The Italian Wine world is composed of thousands of individual winemakers. 60,000 producers squeeze out 50 million hectolitres of wine each year and compete against one another to create the best Barolo, Brunello, etc etc.
When I buy a bottle of wine I don’t simply think about the price, my key criteria is not always even the taste, but when I buy wine I’m buying into the whole story. I want to know everything, about the grape, the conditions at the vineyard, the vintage, the producer, I am buying into the life of the wine. It’s a romantic, old fashioned notion, and I am in a vast minority.
Price is what matters today. With wines from all over the world becomingly increasingly available the Italian market can not even rely on the loyalty of Italian wine drinkers anymore. Top quality wines, hand picked grapes, low yields are exceptionally expensive and this cost is passed onto the consumer. Young Italians aren’t interested in the tradition or the story of the wine. They want quality wines yes, but with a jazzy label. Braida and Planeta are doing their utmost to embrace the young Italian wine drinker with cool commercials and hip marketing and are carving out a niche for themselves with the wealthy younger generation (consider a bottle of Planeta/Braida is still usually over €15)
This is a step in the right direction by Braida and Planeta but much much more needs to change. Italian wine makers need desperately to set up consortia in order to promote their wines at home and abroad. The New World is going to bite us in the ass. Not by the quality of their wine as was feared but their ability to market their products and face marketing costs together.
Take for example Chile, a hugely successful emerging wine country has only 130 producers creating some 10 million hectolitres of wine. Another example is Australia, 300 of their producers account for 75% of their total export.
Italian wine is the worlds leading importer of wine into the States but nowhere near enough is being done to fend off the New World attack. Personally I hope the Italian wine producers can strike some kind of balance. I don’t want to see huge Italian wine consortium’s and have an unavoidable decrease in quality with a higher importance placed on the brand yet I don’t want the smaller producers to disappear unable to sell their expensive wines and unable to compete with their marketing. We’re in a time of change and can’t rely on the simple fact the wine is “Italian” with all the romantic notions attached to that label.
Question of the day?
What criteria influence your decision to buy wine?