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Archive for October, 2011

Jordan Sauvignon Blanc – 2009 “The Outlier”- £12

Friday, October 28th, 2011

There are too many wines these days which are, essentially, “wines by numbers”. This has become, in my view, a bit of a problem with entry level Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Not many winemakers seem to be going out on a limb and producing wines with that little bit of character, that certain something which makes a wine stand out. To be fair, price constraints may dictate this. They’re knocking out the standard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and you can kind of understand this. Brits in particular have been falling over themselves over the past five years to snap up anything containing the magic words of “Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc” on the label.

 

I’ve taken lately to focusing on South African Sauvignons (admittedly not helped by recently winning a year’s worth of New Zealand Wine in a competition…..) and this wine shows why it’s worth having a deeper look into what South Africa can offer from this brilliant grape.

The minute I took a sniff of this wine I knew it was not another mindless Sauvignon Blanc drone. The smell is almost quite earthy. Once you taste it you’re struck by the pungent nature of this wine, it tastes like the winemaker has left it to get on with it rather than fiddling with it for hours, days and weeks on end. It is absolutely jam packed with green pepper notes and a very nice hint of oak which is wonderfully well integrated into the wine. In short, it is an enormously character packed wine.

Do give this a try, it really made me smile and it really is just that little bit different!

Available at www.findwine.co.uk on the main buying page…do not miss out!

 


Champagne

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Do you really like Champagne? I mean actually genuinely like it, do you really get £30 worth of benefit out of a single bottle? And when did you last go into a wine shop and spend £30 on a bottle of still wine?

I am sure I have written before about how remarkable the marketing behind the big Champagne brands is, it should be they spend a fortune on it. However the cache that has built up around the word Champagne over the years does as much to contribute to the the fact that whenever there is something to celebrate, people blow the budget on bubbles. This historic reputation for celebration is more complex to explain, but essentially, anything that is more expensive to make, is more expensive to buy and therefore more impressive to serve- an idea that has filtered down through generations to make people who would turn green at the idea of buying a bottle of Burgundy for £30 reach straight for any bottle of fizz at the slightest whiff of an occassion, no matter what the contents of the bottle actually tastes like!

I have been considering Champagne this evening, as someone has just poured me a glass of Moet et Chandon…without wanting to sound like a wine snob…it’s awful, not helped by not being cold enough. Luckily I didn’t buy it myself! Firstly, Moet is not  a bad Champagne, just young, keep any bottle for 2-3 years and you will notice a stark contrast in quality. Secondly, as I come to drink more wine I am beginning to realise that Champagne just doesn’t do it for me that much. Of course I enjoy it from time to time, I really enjoy it if it is good- not necessarily expensive but good. But rarely, if ever have I been blown away by a glass of Champagne, unlike wine, which shocks and surprises me on a regular basis.

Of course there is the climatic pop and fizz when a bottle is opened (although any good butler will tell you that the sound should never be louder than a Duchesses fart!), then the heady moment when your mouth fills with a gently frothing foam and the bubbles rush to your head in such a way that just makes you want to misbehave…It’s all very exciting! But would it be so exciting if it were cheap?!

Asti is full of bubbles, it opens with the same satisfying pop and the physical experience of drinking it is not dissimilar, other than a bit more sweetness…but I have never seen P-Diddy or Snoop Dogg rapping about it, nor has any polo event been branded by a top Asti producer!

As festivities flirt their way into the wine trades consciousness , Champagne begins to loom. I know I will sell a large amount of Champagne over the next few weeks, lots of people will ask what I recommend- Of course I will tell them I think Lallier Grand Cru is the best, it is £25 from www.findwine.co.uk and blows the socks of anything else in it’s range- I still wouldn’t buy it for myself though just to drink.

By all means if you can afford to drink lovely Champagne followed by lovely wine then do, as much as I have criticised it, a fine glass will always bring a smile to my face. However if you are going to splash out on lash this Christmas I would highly recommend you spend your hard earned cash on some decent wine and don’t worry too much about Champagne for Champagnes sake…you could even be very brave and try some Asti, it is the best hangover sure I am yet to find!


Where To Find New Customers?

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

We have been selling wine online for a while now, well two years actually and there is a question I seem to always ask myself. Where to find new customers?

Now obviously we have managed to find some customers, in fact you are probably the ones actually reading this blog…if you are, thank you, carry on buying wine please! You are the people that have helped build this company, our loyal followers but how to find more of you? (maybe you should tell your friends!)

Companies such as Naked Wine have proved that building a large database of customers is easy if you partner with enough companies and organisations and give away massive vouchers to draw them into the first purchase. The latest I have heard about is that if you are a member of DenPlan you get a £40 voucher for Naked. Soon it will be difficult to buy or sign up to anything without being given a voucher for Naked Wine. I can’t criticise them, it makes a lot of sense and it demonstrates how to very quickly grow a wine business, the only issue is what it costs them to give such large introductory offers. Unfortunately the wine trade is plagued with miserably low margins, therefore given away that much money to find a new customer is tough, if not impossible. Plus I wander how many of those customers then repeat without the incentive of a large discount? They probably did when they thought Naked was a very cool, unknown online merchant seeking out fantastic unheard of wines. However now that it is hard to buy a newspaper without being given a discount at Naked, their little club of Angels does not seem quite so exciting.

So that is the massive introductory offer method out- plus unfortunately we don’t have the cash to back up such a campaign, otherwise it is more likely I would be paying someone to write this blog for me!

So what else to try? Social media? A colossal buzz when I entered the wine trade, bloggers were emerging as worthwhile critics, Twitter was their vehicle to promote their activities and to tell the rest of the world which tasting they had blessed with their presence that day. But who is reading these blogs and Tweets? Look through Twitter and you will find that most communication is limited to discussing stuff with each other, not members of the public hanging on their every word waiting to be told what wine to buy next. Before I go on, I must say that actually there are a handful of bloggers who have been a huge help to Find Wine and before you through your iphone at your mac book and refuse to read on, please do…I am building up to make a relevant point!

So, what about the traditional media? Famous wine journalists with fancy national paper columns, surely read by hundreds of thousands of people desperate to know what to drink. You see them at tasting, sweeping through the room, furiously making notes on hundreds of wines, their highly honed taste buds analysing every last flavour within the wine. Companies spend fortunes on sending their products to these people, probably even more taking them out for dinner but what for? We have had specific wines written up in every top column in the country and never once have we noticeably sold a bottle on the back of it. So what’s the point of playing the game, other than to keep Tim Atkins thirst quenched?

So, you see my predicament. Sure given endless funds I would take over Victoria train station, have lot’s of people dressed as grapes appear from nowhere, do a dance to commuters and give them all a glass of wine, film everything and play the footage during the adverts of Downton Abbey. But in the real world what should I do?

I think the secret is to do all of the above (except perhaps the train station stunt!). No one of these activities will find new customers but a sensible combination of them all and you will be reaching the people you want, the ones that really care, plus a few others that don’t really care but will spend some money on the way through!

Imagine this- You are someone who isn’t that fussed about wine, you wouldn’t normally spend time reading about it but are interested enough to take note of good advice. You buy some clothing from your favourite mail order store as a treat and as a thank you they offer you a (sensible) discount off some wine from a company they know you will like. Perhaps you don’t take up the offer right away. Then you are playing around on Twitter, finding out what Phillip  Schofield had for breakfast and a random wine blogger you happened to follow recently, mentions a great wine they have just tried from the same company, you take note and remember to look at their website sometime. Then over your bacon and eggs on Sunday morning you are reading the Daily Mail, Live magazine and Olly Smith has managed to tear himself away from his comb and gel and has produced a column about the latest, coolest sauvignon and that same company crops up. You give it a go, you love the wine and the service and then you tell your friends and they forget until again they see this same name crop up here and there and it starts again.

It may not explode instantly into massive sales and a threat to Tesco but slowly but surely a a loyal customer base will grow and in the long run that will give the brand real value!

We need to get back on track with this plan, we have been neglecting certain elements and it is amazing how quickly things slow down. Who knows you maybe checking out a wine website, read a blog on it and think, they sound like lovely people, I think I will give them money!


Everyday Wine

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Everyday wine- it is a well used phrase to describe wine, something that suggests anything from £4.99 to £10, that could be anything from the most obscure German riesling to the biggest Australian Shiraz you could find. But what do people want to drink everyday?

I find myself using this mysterious phrase a lot, especially when people ask what sort of wine we sell on Findwine.co.uk- we sell everyday wine, i.e. it’s not that expensive or flash. But it says nothing about the character of the wine, should everyday wine be simply bland and functional? something to serve a purpose and nothing else? Have we got to the stage where people reach for a bottle of wine as if it were a can of coke? Something predictable and without any variation.

I reckon the the average UK consumer will reach for a bottle of wine when returning from work and spend minimal time considering what it is, where it has come from or whether they even like it or not, all that matters is that this is a drink which contains alcohol and taste slight fruity. Is this everyday wine? Should I, as a UK retailer be pandering to this market and be seeking out the most generic of wines to satisfy the needs of the many for who wine possesses no pleasure beyond a relaxant and thirst quencher.

I appreciate that the chief function of wine is to be a drink and therefore being liquidy is all that is really required of it.

However personally I think that however cheap, drinking wine should be joyous and inspirational experience and not just a function of the day, even if it is £4.99 (and if you don’t think you can be inspired or made joyous for £4.99 then let me point you in the direction of Les Trouveres red!).

Everyday wine should really be about wine that you can open, not feel guilty about what you have paid for it and feel lifted, whether it marks the end of a long day or the beginning of a celebration, wine is for pleasure and not for function. The wine is in the market place, it is up to the UK trade to educate the consumer as to what is available beyond the dull and predictable drinks that dominate the marketplace.

Everyday wine can be exciting!