Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Is it New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc From New Zealand?

August 30, 2011

There is a difference between New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and here it is.

Not long ago, New Zealand wine commentator Jayson Bryant wrote a column with the title Where Has All the New Zealand Wine Gone?“. Today there are multiple categories of production in the world of New Zealand wine, in fact the industry body lists producers by size and includes three categories of small – medium and large. This has nothing to do with quality – just raw volume of wine produced.

The wines in the Jayson’s photo  are generally New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs – well made wines that are readily available in wine departments from Hong Kong – Tokyo – London – New York – Chicago – Los Angeles & beyond. These wines have won many awards, generally have honorable scores, priced fairly and adequate at most meals. These wines are produced by global conglomerates or large family run businesses. None of this is either good or bad – it is just the way it is.

To understand Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, you have to take a moment and imagine walking through a farmers market filled with vendors who have a dazzling array of fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, eggs, cheese and so on. This market is a true delight for the senses where the creators of these wonderful foods have assembled to sell their goods. This is Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, wines that are only produced in small quantities with limited availability.

In another blog Misha Wilkenson writes about the small New Zealand wine producers and the marketing challenges facing this large group of small producers. In round numbers about 90% of all New Zealand wine producers make less than 25,000 cases of wine. This is the farmers market of New Zealand wines – challenge is finding them.

This is why I suggest Sauvignon Blanc (or Pinot Noir etc) from New Zealand is the proper designation for these special and hard to find New Zealand wines. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is everywhere – Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, not so easy to find.

Back to the farmers market – basket loaded and now home in the kitchen preparing a meal for friends – imagine a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand with the first course and for the second a Pinot Noir from New Zealand – there was an effort to put it all together – the smiles on your friends faces confirm the effort was worth it.

Here is another side story that suggests if you truly want to find these special wines from New Zealand you have to either live there or get on a plane. (Quote is from end of article).

I also met 2 charming Antipodeans from New Zealand who were working in Bristol to whom I apologised beforehand about part of my talk re the additives in cheap New Zealand wines.

Their reply was

“Please don’t apologise. It’s a well known fact back at home that the cheaper wines are produced for the masses and the locals won’t buy it – so we send it over to you!”

Wait – there is a Sticky from New Zealand for desert and a car with driver to take you home!

Introducing Lady Parker – A New Zealand Wine Reviewer

March 19, 2010

I am young woman in wine, reviewing and vlogging the best of what New Zealand wine has to offer – it’s personalities, it’s stories, and most importantly the uniqueness inside each and every bottle.

Sharing no known lineage with Robert Parker (the USA’s Wine Advocate), though a common background – I’m passionate about learning, tasting and enjoying what the world of wine has to offer.

I’m pursuing my passion… It’s been a lifelong one – growing up as a wine makers only daughter, with five brothers – my day-to-day life has hardly been prosaic. I grew up in a family of wine and entrepreneurship.

Now having finished my Law Degree at Otago University, I have chosen to honour my fervour for Wine and am on a journey of discovery – endeavouring to navigate the unchartered world of wine & ultimately seeking to achieve my MW perpetually learning, reviewing (and enjoying!) wine.

Finding New Wines – Wild Rock New Zealand

January 13, 2010

Some time ago I wrote about finding new wines by taking the time to get to know the people behind the wines. Wild Rock is an example of a New Zealand winery with

a group of fun and interesting people. Like to buy wine from people who live life to the max – here they are.

Want to buy a New Zealand wine that might be outside of what you normally do – maybe a Pinot Gris or a Merlot / Malbec blend or what about a Rose? When you go for it with your dollars, it is always good to know you are buying  from real people,  in a real place. Wild Rock is one of those choices.

What’s even more interesting, as you explore the people, you find someone  who is connected to something else. So it is with Wild Rock – while this video will deadpan Steve Smith as just a guy – as he obviously is –  and the website  presents him only as a Wild Rock guy – there is more.

A little research will show that Steve Smith is a shareholder, director and a lot more at Craggy Range Winery. Craggy Range is a special New Zealand story and one worth noting – coincidentally I wrote about them not long ago too.

This is where the story gets interesting because many think  New Zealand is  capable of producing limited numbers and styles of wine. Steve Smith is way out in front and showing the world what New Zealand is truly capable of. And he is proving his Craggy Range New Zealand wines can run with the best in the world.

Wild Rock is a side project with lots of upside for your wine pleasure – Craggy Range is the bonus or maybe it is the other way around. Either way you win!

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Worlds Most Popular and Least Understood Wine

January 22, 2009

New Zealand Sauvignon blanc could be one of the world’s most popular wines and at the same time the least understood. When you pause and consider that over 85% of New Zealand’s wine producers make less than 25k cases of wine per year, yet the world is generally exposed to the production from the remaining 15%.

Granted, this 15% has done a tremendous job of marketing a singular story, the really exciting side of New Zealand is this large group of micro producers.

This group has regional diversity, winemaking styles that vary and generally a very hands on approach in their vineyards. Most are both wine growers and wine makers. In other words they can honestly be viewed as Estates.

New Zealand wine writer Michael Cooper recently wrote about this in the New Zealand Listener. His article has some interesting comments.

  • …the classic French grape variety also thrives in other regions, from Hawke’s Bay to Waipara…
  • … from Hawke’s Bay grapes and modelled on the famous dry whites of Graves, in Bordeaux, swings the spotlight on our alternative sauvignons.
  • UK wine writer Tom Cannavan argues that ‘‘the ‘typical’ New Zealand sauvignon is not a food wine, and is rarely subtle or complex … the style is becoming a caricature: aromatic fireworks and a dollop of residual sugar to balance searing acidity has become a recipe by which some churn out a ‘product’, rather than a wine”.
  • … is critical of the common practice in New Zealand of making sauvignon blanc slightly sweet, “a style where one glass is definitely enough
  • … Surely the world expects sauvignon blanc to be dry white wine. I certainly do!”

The article continues to highlight several producers who understand the difference between “fine wine and a refreshing beverage”.

This is just one of many comments I hear about the current state of New Zealand wine. Some predict New Zealand is following Australia toward the same cliff.

My sense is the world is about to discover the “little guys” scattered across New Zealand who make really nice wines, that lead to memorable evenings with friends and food.

You can read the full article on the Listeners web site. Listener

New Zealand Wine Glut

January 6, 2009

On January 1 the Marlborough Express reported there is a surplus of New Zealand wine on the horizon and also concern how some lower quality fruit might compromise the image of New Zealand wine around the world.

I think the panic is very premature and is the natural evolution of the industry. It is not a bad thing to have bulk wine produced for lower price points coming from New Zealand. California has a very robust bulk or cheap wine industry and the boutique wine industry thrives too.

In fact, the boutique wine industry in California is so robust they have their own group called Family Winemakers of California who offer legislative and marketing support for these micro producers.

It may come as a surprise to some in New Zealand, but you all ready have cheap and inexpensive wine in the USA.untitled-22 This ad from 2006 shows some very low price points at a time when press releases were heralding demand was exceeding supply.

You will notice a couple of very inexpensive wines from California too. The fact they exist has not “killed” the wine industry. It is just a different set of customers and expectations.

Someone has to scavenge the bottom to keep the system clean.

Fearing the dark is silly, put this low end wine in a box and move on.

The New Zealand wine story is very much like California with both large global wine companies and the micro producers who excel at crafting fine wine for a small select group of consumers. California does not produce one and only one tier of quality and consumers do not punish the region for doing so.

It might be time to take a page from the California play book and have a similar group representing “the little guys” in New Zealand.  Or at least, for those that believe they are in the fine wine business to stand up and perform a Haka to the world and share their unique and wonderful stories.

This is where New Zealand excels with a rich mosaic of stories to share that are very real, very personal and most of all, evolving on a daily basis. With easy to use and low cost social media tools available today, everyone should be engaged with the global conversation of wine.

Welcome to the newest chapter of the New Zealand wine experience and Web 2.0.

The article mentioned can be read here Marlborough Express.

PS. The word glut was theirs not mine.

Wine Additives

December 11, 2008

I came across this post by Nick Stephens  the other day and naturally the comment about New Zealand wine caught my attention. I suspect the wine served with dinner at Nick’s would be pretty special.

The comment was:

“I also met 2 charming Antipodeans from New Zealand who were working in Bristol to whom I apologised beforehand about part of my talk re the additives in cheap New Zealand wines.

Their reply was “Please don’t apologise. It’s a well known fact back at home that the cheaper wines are produced for the masses and the locals won’t buy it – so we send it over to you!”

The additive comment reminded me of an article some months ago in the LA Times about exactly this subject. It is a pretty lengthy article and very informative to read thru. These methods are most likely used in all wine producing regions and not exclusive to New Zealand.

It is a good reminder that some wines begin in the vineyard and are finished in the lab.

Good effort by Bonny Doon to lead the way in telling us what goes in the bottle.

The  two Kiwi’s did get it right when they replied they keep the good stuff at home. Finding these New Zealand gems really is a treasure hunt. When you find them, you will know you are in a good wine shop or restaurant.

Wine Reviewers Part Two

October 15, 2008

Yesterday I shared part one of an article published by Peter Klann from Little Raven Vineyards in Denver.

Part two is below. Peter’s contact details are at the end.

I think you will enjoy Peter’s thoughtful comments.

The problem with wine rating systems is that the score of the wine depends on the person doing the rating. While Mr. Parker is indeed consistent in his ratings, others may not be. Then add in the fact that so many people are giving scores; it is often difficult to know who gave the rating.

Michael De Loach, Vice President of Hook and Ladder Winery in Sonoma County, wonders if scoring mania is healthy for the industry. He says, “If Parker or Spectator don’t give you a high enough score, you can make up your own.” So what really does the “Number” mean?

The “Number” limits the spectrum of wines that sell well. There are grumblings in the industry that some wine makers care about their scores too much. Some will say that winemakers are fashioning their wines to please the palate of Mr. Parker and other high-profile critics. Some fear this worldwide influence of Mr. Parker who has been described as the planet’s most powerful critic will eventually lead to the homogenization of wine. (For more on the homogenization of wine, check out the 2004 documentary called Mondovino directed by Jonathan Nossiter.)

What if wine was judged by its human and geographical context? Can a “Number” capture the relationship between a place and the people who live and grow the grapes?

What if wine were rated by how it tasted when it is swallowed rather than spit into a bucket? What if wine was evaluated by how it paired with food? Can a “Number” account for the intersection of aroma, memory and pleasure that gives wine its enduring appeal? What if ratings were given to small, artisan producers and not just large “corporate” producers?

You won’t find a lot of numbers and scores at Little Raven Vineyards. Scores are fine for some things, but we don’t think you can “count” taste. We choose our wines the time-honored way – we taste them ourselves.

We understand the best wines express a place, a person and a point in the historical continuum. We know that individuals have a wide variety of preferences when it comes to style and stock our store accordingly. We seek out small producers and unusual grapes. And most importantly, we look for wines that are made with honesty and passion, so that we can offer our customers the same wines that we’d be pleased to put on our tables.

By Email:

By Phone:

Visit us:
We are conveniently located in LoDo near the corner of 15th and Little Raven Street, right at the Millennium Bridge . If you need help finding us, try mapquest or give
us a call.

1590 Little Raven, # 175
Denver, CO 80202

Welcome to Bannock Brae Estate and Central Otago

October 14, 2008

Heres an exciting find for fans of Pinot noir! New Zealands southerly Central Otago region has rapidly developed a reputation for expressing a special “terroir”, one that is unique throughout the world. Though this region shares a similar latitude with Burgundy, Central Otagos warmer, drier climate allows this persnickety grape to ripen more fully. The resulting wines exhibit distinctively deep, fruity attributes that are much-loved by Pinot noir enthusiasts.

Wine Reviewers

October 14, 2008


Peter Klann at Little Raven Vineyards in Denver recently published some history and comments on the role of wine ratings. The paragraphs below are his. Part two will be republished tomorrow. His contact details are at the end of the commentary.

In 1978, Robert Parker Jr., lawyer turned self-employed wine critic, introduced the 100 point scoring system to the wine world. Consumers intuitively understood this system with 96 to 100 being an extraordinary wine, 90 to 95 an excellent wine, and 80 to 89 is above average to good. Mr. Parker fashioned himself as a crusading consumer advocate on a mission to enlighten the discriminating wine buyer.

The method for determining “The Number” is to taste batches to wine together with each bottle covered in individual paper bags. Each wine is swirled, sniffed, and spat into a bucket, and notes are taken on the aromas and flavors. After tasting several wines against each other, a score is attached to each wine according to the taster’s judgment.

As Mr. Parker’s influence grew, retailers started quoting Parker points in advertisements and other promotional materials. “The Number” became an excellent way for marketers to promote wine. And soon its effects were felt throughout the industry. “The Number” helped elevate the overall quality of wine, contributed to the growth of the wine market in the U.S., and perhaps even influenced the popularity of certain grapes. But its most direct impact may be in the way wine is sold.

For better or for worse, “The Number” is proving an effective stand-in for the knowledgeable, wine shop sommelier sales person. Instead of relying on your wine shop sommelier to know your specific likes and dislikes and to assist you in selecting good matches for your palate, retailers simply fall back on “The Number.”

So whenever a good number is available (and a good number is anything 90 or above), the wine is heavily promoted through distributors, retailers, magazines, on web sites, and in “shelf talkers.” The wine flies off the shelf based on the taste of one individual determining a rating.

Does this person have the same tastes as you? A rating system that draws a distinction between a Cabernet scoring 90 and one receiving an 89 implies a precision of the senses that even many wine critics agree that human beings do not possess. Ratings are quick judgments that a single individual renders early in the life of a bottle of wine that, once expressed numerically, magically transform the nebulous and subjective into the authoritative and objective.

Mr. Parker tends to favor the very big, alcoholic and fruit-forward wines; he rates this style in the 90 to 100 point range. The wines he dismisses in the 80-point range tend to be the kind of more subtle and often elegant wines. If you like big and fruit-forward style of wine, you will most likely agree with most of Mr. Parker’s ratings (He is very consistent.) Others have jumped on the numbers game and there are many others rating wines too such as The Wine Spectator, The Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits Magazine. These publications also use a 100-point scale.

But is a review from Robert Parker more or less valid than a Wine Spectator score? Some wine shops require distributors to submit scores when they offer wines for placement, but how valid are these scores? Does any number or piece of press constitute a valid measure? Is the wine critic for Sacramento Bee a solid source, or the Albuquerque Journal? Do they know what you appreciate about the wines you drink?

The bottom line is wine preference is highly individualistic; so unless your tastes are the same as the reviewer, disappointment is sure to follow. If you are interested in buying wine based on numbers, it’s always a good idea to go back and read the notes to see who produced the score. The important point is to find someone whose taste in wines runs parallel to your own and see what they thought about that wine you’d like to try or buy. Stay tuned . . . more to come next week.

By Email:

By Phone:

Visit us:
We are conveniently located in LoDo near the corner of 15th and Little Raven Street, right at the Millennium Bridge . If you need help finding us, try mapquest or give
us a call.

1590 Little Raven, # 175
Denver, CO 80202

New Wine Magazine

September 26, 2008

Looking for a different slant on the world of wine?

Check out Sommelier Journal who is about to celebrate its 1st year anniversary.

Their home page describes the magazine as follows:

  • – “Whether you’re new to the business or you’ve been in the industry for years, Sommelier Journal brings all the up-to-date information a professional needs every month. From the latest trends to overviews of wine regions, from recommendations of interesting, food-friendly wines to wine news, Sommelier Journal is the Essential Guide for Wine Professionals.”