Italian Wine Consortium

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.

This is wonderful for us, the consumer, we have a seemingly infinite choice of wines all striving for supreme quality which is what makes the Italian wine world so interesting to me. However, this is not how the rest of the world operates. In the States there are massive wine consortium’s who buy up producer after producer and standardise and regulate and do such awful sanitary things that decrease my enjoyment of the wine but also, and this is the killer blow, decrease the price of the bottles. What they achieve is excellent QPR.

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.

Of course none of us can tell what is going to happen in the next 5 years, whether Italy will lose its US wine drinkers crown to Australia or if we will see many smaller Italian wine makers going bust but, it looks inevitable from where I stand today. The powers that be have a chance to change the future for Italian wine and Italy’s answer to Yellowtail is still up for grabs. As for me, I’ll continue to support our smaller producers making some of the best quality wines in the world. Perhaps the Slow Food group should help tackle this growing problem and create a Slow Wine section to protect the threat to quality we are facing today.

Question of the day?
What criteria influence your decision to buy wine?

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Lar says:

    The French Suffering at the hands of the new world has been long documented, and it’s due to any number of reasons from the big marketing campaigns down to how they market their wines.It’s simple, if a French wine doesn’t have English on the label with the name of the grape, how it tastes and what food it goes with then your supermarket shopper won’t understand it. If they don’t understand it, they won’t buy it.Instead they’ll opt for an unitimidating Chilean or Australian wine.

  2. YepBland, unoffensive and cheap is what wins the day Lar.I think the French and the Italian are waking up to it, my only hope is that they don’t simply ape the New World methodology.Like I said, I’d love Slow Food to jump all over this topic and raise some awareness. They’re an Italian group and slow food and slow wine should go hand in hand. I emailed them to see what they are doing, if I get a response I’ll post it.

  3. Josh Banks says:

    My gosh! You are being serious today?I choose my wine based on past experience of the producer or recommendations. Not your recommendations of course but recommendations from friends and experts.:oP

  4. Andy B says:

    Choosing wine involves a lot of research for me. I normally go to the wine markets armed with information of Ebob on the palm.

  5. Jen Cole says:

    My criteria is really dependant on what food I’m taking.

  6. Maureen Hamill says:

    Oh no. I have to admit sometimes I do get taken in by the labels. They draw my eye and I end up taking those bottles home. I’m a sucker for marketing. :oX

  7. Massimo Rosso says:

    When I buy the wine I think always to the vintner and the past times I have tried the wines. I do not think to the color of the bottles.

  8. Barbara says:

    We’ve bought 2 Umbrian wines as gifts, and would like to know when to tell the recipients they can drink the wines. The first is a 2005 Sagrantino di Montefalco (Tudernum), and the other is a wine Gambero Rosso rated fairly high, a 2005 (Francore) Merlot, also from tudernum. Any adivce on when these should be drunk?

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