Archive - June, 2010

Virgin to tempt US consumers?

Virgin Wines
Image via Wikipedia

It’s a bit if speculation, but I’m guessing that Virgin Wines is about to start targeting US consumers having been built up in the UK.

Since they started they’ve always been at www.virginwines.com which, when they started (as one if the longest lasting players in this space), was sensible as country specific domains such as .co.uk were still misunderstood and mistrusted.

It seems that they are transferring their existing site to the www.virginwines.co.uk URL and asking bloggers who had included links to their old site to change all their links (a PITA for no specific reward other than doing a favour for our readers and their Google visibility).

Why would they do that? Presumably because they have separate plans for the .com URL

I have not seen any announcement about a US consumer launch, but it makes sense to expect one. It will be interesting to see how the model works in the complex US market, and what that means, also, for the UK business.

If they have a much bigger market they could end up simply sourcing more volume lines, or they could increase their buying power for more, small parcels of greater interest, we shall see.

Anyone know any more about this? Presumably someone at Virgin Wines is watching ;)

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A simple supper

Not much time to post this stuff at the moment, but I had a great evening last night on my (eventual) arrival to Logroño in La Rioja.

[I must say that Vueling are not in my good books at the moment, and I hear similar stories from a lot of people. It's a shame, but maybe best stick with EasyJet!]

Anyway, I met up with some friends in a restaurant called El Portalon and I shared their "chuleton" with a number of bottles of great Rioja wine.

The steak is a massive hunk of rib beef served with the outside fat beautifully charred to a soft creaminess, but virtually raw inside and presented on a HOT plate so you cook it to taste at the table. Beef, oil, salt. Simple. Effective!

The wines were: 

Viña Tondonia Reserva 2000 (the mature, classical style from a not particularly great vintage and not showing the depth of flavour I associate with this wine),
Roda 1 2004 (a much more modern style, concentrated, lots of soft tannin and extraction, but still incredibly young),
Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva 2001 (a fabulous, rich, layered and still youthful wine).

A great experiment I suggest you all try whenever you possibly can – and best tried by coming to Logroño yourselves! 

:)

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Buy your iPhone 4 en primeur

iPhone4 side view
Image by A7design1 via Flickr

Sometimes the wine world seems baffling. Take the term “en primeur” for example.

Every year, for weeks and months (and getting longer), the wine world is abuzz with the “campaign” to sell Bordeaux from the latest vintage. A small selection of wineries from the world’s most famous wine region generate massive enthusiasm for wines that only a handful of “experts” have ever tried, selling them years before they will be bottled and leave the winery, and for figures that make bankers weep for the fact their bonuses simply aren’t big enough.

It seems very odd.

Many point to this complex, elitist and expensive system to demonstrate how out of touch the wine world has become.

Yet, today I find myself in the middle of a series of other “en primeur” campaigns.

Apple is the master at this game. In the last few weeks we have seen the “pre-order” frenzy for both iPads and the iPhone 4. These are products only a handful of “experts” have ever tried, being sold to consumers days or weeks before they will be shipped, and for figures that certainly make YOUR bank manager raise her eyebrows.

This is all stage-managed to generate excitement, the illusion of scarcity, the social value of one-upmanship and the insatiable demand for innovation.

Maybe it is the rest of the wine world that is out of touch? We all like a bit of showmanship and prestidigitation from time to time, … don’t we!?

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