Is there something intrinsically “Italian” about a website built in Italy like there is something uniquely Italian about the country’s wines (beyond the obvious language issue of course)?
I don’t think so. However, there might be something uniquely Italian about how a problem is addressed and solved. For example, I’m attending a “wine” conference in Genoa, and amongst the 20 or so speakers at yesterday’s “unconference” were two olive oil producers and a producer of wonderful balsamic vinegar – all talking about the same issues of building their brand, sharing their personality and delivering expert content using the web. Who knows, maybe this cross-fertilisation of ideas might bring new insights or opportunities?
This is the sort of “outside the box” thinking and discussion we hope will emerge from bringing together bloggers who have an interest in wine, including food, travel and maybe other bloggers, at the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference (EWBC). Maybe it will be the Italian balsamic vinegar, or the Spanish wine tourism or maybe the Portuguese designer that will spark the discussion that will lead to a new approach to sharing wine online. Who knows!?
In the meantime, I must say I’ve been reminded of, and impressed by, the range of wines made in Italy, but which are so hard to find outside of it. It is a shame it is so hard to find wines such as the indigenous Pigato, Ciliegiolo, Cesanese and Cannonau – instead of the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio (does anyone know of a great resource on Italian grapes to link to?). I urge you to explore these further.
And on that note, I’m off to taste more wines from 125 producers at TerroirVino. A presto!
On Wednesday I was invited to taste through a small range of examples of 2008 vintage Chablis with Arnaud Valour of the Burgundy Wine Board. Naturally I accepted – and it had nothing to do with the branded gifts I took away (although I’m particularly grateful for a copy of Rosemary George’s wonderful book; The Wines of Chablis)
I’d say that the wines were great, but they were only a selection of 6 bottles (blind – i.e. without saying which they were) and chosen to be the best of the region in this vintage, so you’d expect them to be. I was particularly impressed by the quality and easier drinking style of the Petit Chablis wines – they had more character than I really expected. For those unfamiliar with the Chablis hierarchy, this is:
Petit Chablis – the least expensive, simple, crisp wines
Chablis – a range of wines, but fresh, delicate and with hints of “minerality” (like the aroma of shells on the beach – see video)
Chablis Premier Cru (or 1er Cru) – more complex wines that must come from only 40 or so vineyards
Chablis Grand Cru – the most intense, age-worthy and usually stunning examples; only 7 vineyards on one slope go to making these
I asked Arnaud what he though were the unique style characteristics of Chablis, and why people should chose Chablis, and I recorded the answer (I apologise for the poor quality sound):
Of course, the wines got better as we went up the scale, getting more rounded, more complex and showing those classic Chablis characters. It does seem that 2008 will be a good vintage for the region. It also seems that sales of this premium region are as affected by the credit crunch as everyone else, so you may be able to pick them up for a decent price when they hit the shops and merchants.
For the premier cru wines (I tried an interesting organic 1er cru) and above, it would be a crime to drink a 2008 now as they’ll develop over the next decade, but the trouble will be finding someone who will keep them for you, so it might be worth getting a few and keeping them in a cool corner for a future special occasion.
But this blog isn’t about tasting wines or about specific regions. I also spent a while asking Arnaud about the online marketing and social media plans of the Chablis region. After all, Chablis already has brand recognition around the world, you would think it could leverage this to its advantage online too.
It seems that there are plans to launch a new site at http://www.chablis.fr – I see there is a site there now, but it has numerous flaws, so I’m hoping it is a work in progress. Considering how controversial internet marketing of alcohol is in France these days, it is good to see that not everyone is abandoning these efforts. Apparently Chablis is out to broaden its appeal to “women and younger consumers”, mainly, it appears, through tasting events in Chablis itself. For the rest of us, the plan is to focus on the wine trade. Unfortunately the wine trade is already familiar with the wines, and with hundreds of regions competing for their attention, I wonder how effective this will be (it got me writing about it I suppose). I was specifically told they had no plans for Facebook fan pages, blogs or twitter accounts, which unfortunately fits the stereotype of French wine marketing.
Arnaud himself was very articulate, friendly and spoke excellent English, but there are only so many people he can meet in person. Surely they could find a way to “amplify” his message through social media channels easily enough?
In short, Chablis continues to be a great wine, it continues to be a reasonably expensive wine, and it doesn’t have much new to say about itself from a marketing perspective, so continues to speak to the same consumers. If you buy it, you’ll probably keep doing so. If you don’t, what reason have you to start?
Question: What does Chablis mean to you?
I wonder if I could urge you to go and taste a bottle of Chablis, any style, any vintage, and let me know what you think of it? How did you find the wine? Did you like it? Was it good value for money? How was it being sold compared to the competition? If you would consider undertaking this mission, please do let me know what you thought here in the comments.
TerroirVino is a conference and tasting. On Sunday I will be taking part in Vinix Unplugged, an unconference to discuss wine, food and marketing online. I will be on at 15:00 (I think) to present the 2009 EWBC (European Wine Bloggers Conference) and some of this may be streamed live here. Monday promises a wonderful array of top Italian wines as there are 125 exhibitors pouring their wines in the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa. Expect a few tweets and twitpics from me to make you all jealous.
I hope to let you know what exciting things are happening in Italy that might have an impact beyond that country, and hopefully also meet some of the marvellous range of Italian wine bloggers attending the event. Most of all, I look forward to sharing information about the 2009 EWBC with everyone.
If you are coming to the conference or tasting, please say hello – or even Ciao!
Here’s an idea for wine brands – it’s free, or should I say “there is no charge attached”
As the BBC pointed out yesterday, people in Britain consider Broadband at home “essential”, like water or electricity. I agree. I’d also add, that the next move will be to demand it outside the home too, so they can continue their daily business – work, shopping and conversations, on their mobile devices.
There are more and more hotels, bars and restaurants are offering Wi-Fi (although hotels try to charge for it which is just wrong!) which is a great idea – although few are using this properly to their advantage (I’ll post on that as well soon). But as this becomes more common, it will lose its power to impress. Once it is expected, it will only be an issue if it is NOT available.
What no-one has yet done in the restaurant trade (to my knowledge) is address a major shortcoming of all this mobile interaction – access to POWER. CHARGE. ELECTRICITY.
A customer could easily walk into a bar with any combination of laptop, iPod, mobile phone, camera or games console. Want to be their friend for ever? Offer them access to power points (or should I say sockets). The clever bar manager will also have a set of chargers for the most common tools & brands (iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, PSP, etc.) available which customers can borrow FREE.
There have been many times I could have been sharing my experiences of the food, wine, and the location but I couldn’t for fear of running out of battery (in my vocabulary for obvious reasons this is now called “twitter juice“). You should have seen the look I got when I asked recently if they happened to have a charger.
If you are a wine brand with ANY form of online presence, why not brand these tools and make them available instead of just sending out more ice-buckets or menu covers?
I’ve even got a name for the branding campaign – “No Charge”
Just a thought. If you do something like this, let me know!
I was off to The Wine Theatre in Southwark for lunch to meet a fellow blogger, Oliver Thring of Thring for your Supper. As I had not tried the restaurant before, but it billed itself as a wine destination, I was hopeful that there would be interesting wines to try. They have their food and wine menu available online (I can’t believe all restaurants do not do this automatically), so it was easier to prepare.
Rather than choosing the wine myself, I opened up the choice to my followers on twitter and “crowdsourced” the choice – hoping they would be inventive, creative … and kind (and not force me to choose the most expensive wines). I’m a little busy with other tasks at the moment so I wasn’t able to encourage lots of participation, but one follower (@philippav) did respond with some excellent suggestions, and mostly ones I would not have made myself.
The result was that we ended up sharing a bottle (I know, it was supposed to be a glass, but we did have starters AND mains) of a Barbera d’Asti 2007 called Teis from Ca’Bianca – a lovely, light bodied and fruity wine (though with great Italian acidity) that matched the mood and conversation perfectly (though you’ll need to read Oliver’s review to see how it matched the food).
I wonder whether this is an interesting challenge for future outings; to allow certain choices in my vinous exploration to be dictated by a group of like-minded individuals and thus encourage greater experimentation – a little like “Yes Man” (but with wine, and more style – not that I’ve seen the film, but I somehow doubt I need to bother based on the cast and the trailer)
Based on today’s results, it is at least worth repeating, but maybe with a little trepidation
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