Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

France's top consumer group sues Internet giants

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to South Korea ferry victims

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

  • Why Syria’s cash-strapped jihadists let hostages go

    Read more

  • Freed French journalists arrive home after Syria ordeal

    Read more

  • The Great War's unsung four-legged heroes

    Read more

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken South Korean ferry

    Read more

  • UK’s Hamilton cruises to victory at Chinese Grand Prix

    Read more

  • Syria’s Assad visits recaptured Christian town at Easter

    Read more

  • Curfew call after deadly clash at Ukraine checkpoint

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Militants kill Algerian soldiers in deadly ambush

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

France

French wine industry ponders shift in marketing strategy

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-06-25

French winemakers are gradually giving in to global marketing trends, focussing on grape type rather than the region of production. Though it may boost sales worldwide, in a country with a proud wine tradition, this shift is hard to swallow.

The French wine industry is increasingly focusing on grape type, rather than region of production, as a key factor in marketing to boost wine sales and resist competition. In a country with a proud wine tradition, the shift is not easy.

The French wine industry—a source of national revenue and pride—is changing to adapt to a globalised market, with labeling practices the latest focus of professionals in the field.

Whereas France has historically considered its wines to be products of various regions (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Médoc), other major wine markets frequently market wines as products of specific grape types (Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, or Malbec, among many others).

At this week’s Vinexpo Wine Fair in Bordeaux, the consensus seemed to be that France, too, would increasingly have to focus on grape type in order to boost flagging wine sales and distribution. But that shift may not be a smooth one in a country with a deep attachment to wine and its own way of producing, selling, and drinking it.

‘Terroir’ versus commercial viability

A recent study carried out by Sopexa, an international food marketing group, found that up to 60 percent of wine importers from 12 different countries across Europe, North America, and Asia were anticipating an increase in orders of “varietal” wine (wine made from a single type of grape and marketed primarily with that grape name). Varietal wines are especially sought-after in Britain, the US, and Canada. Cabernet Sauvignon is the grape poised to be most in demand, according to wine experts, ahead of Pinot Noir and Merlot.

But most traditional French wines do not even display the name of the grape on the bottle. And despite a 2004 reform that authorised in France the sale of wine marketed by grape type rather than region, there is resistance to adopting that practice. According to Toulouse-based wine merchant Philippe Chaumont, “it’s easier for countries with less wine history. They can invent a system for marketing their wine from scratch. They’re trying to sell to the entire world. In France, when wine sales first started, the point was to sell to the next village over, and then the next region, and so on.”

That deeply ingrained mentality has, according to Chaumont, “penalised France in wine sales abroad, since the name of the vineyard or the region doesn’t mean anything to the average customer looking for an affordable wine”.

Popular French wine stores like the Nicolas chain, considered a middle step between supermarkets and independent wine merchants, have nevertheless been boosting their varietal wine offerings. Indeed, for France—which lost its title as world’s biggest wine producer to Italy in 2008, but remains the top wine exporter – the name of a grape will be a more effective marketing tool in its competition with thriving wine markets in various countries, from Argentina to China. It’s also a way to attract a younger, less wine-savvy clientele.

But the shift toward an emphasis on grapes in selling wine is, for France, a shift away from a tradition of geographic appellation that placed emphasis on the cherished French concept of “terroir” – the impact of region, climate, and land on the taste. “Each wine should represent its particular region,” said Chaumont. “When I’m drinking a Tuscan wine, I don’t want it to taste like a Beaujolais.”

Bordeaux is generally considered the most popular appellation, or geographical indication of wine, particularly in Asian markets. Five of the ten top-selling wine regions in Europe are Italian—but the top three are French.

That fact perhaps explains the feeling of independent wine merchants like Chaumont. “I understand that varietal wines are better adapted to today’s market, but wine is a cultural product,” he said. “It’s history, a past, a region, an exchange between people.”

If France ends up gravitating decisively toward an industry catered around grape types instead of regions, “we’ll all lose”, he said.

Date created : 2011-06-23

  • FRANCE

    French champagne giant to plant vines in China

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Vintage 1773 French wine fetches record price at auction

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)