Monday, October 25, 2010

Portugal's Wine Problem

Portuguese wine is having a bit of a crisis, in fact it's been having a bit of a crisis for a very long time. For a country that produces ten times the amount of wine as New Zealand, sales of Portuguese wines do not exactly set the world alight. (Now admittedly New Zealand out performs in this context) In fact sales of Portuguese wines represent only 1% of UK wine sales, now that in itself might not be a big problem - no the big problem is that 1/3 of those sales is one wine - Mateus Rose' , and another 1/3 is other Portuguese Rose' - the vast majority of which will be supermarket own label versions of Mateus - probably even bottled in similar bottles. What I don't have numbers for are what percentage of wines sold that are things like cheap supermarket own label Vinho Verde, but I'm guessing somewhere in the 10% region - that leaves very little room for wines of any quality.

Some people will tell you that the situation has got better - thirty years ago Mateus accounted for two of every three bottles of Portuguese wines - but thirty years ago we sold more Portuguese wines, we didn't sell many New World wines, so there was less consumer choice and the supermarkets didn't have the hold they have now, and nor did own label wines represent as big a sector.

So there is the problem, Portugal makes terrific, diverse, different wines, quality is improving, infrastructure and investment is happening all the time - now could be Portugal's time - France is struggling, Australia is in disarray - there is market share available to be won but sadly as it stands I can't see Portugal being the ones to take advantage.

Too few companies control too much of the promotional budget - the Consejor Reguladors are answerable to their producers on how they market their wines, but all too often one large producer dominates and prevents money being spent that could take a region global.
ViniPortugal does it's best, but too much money is thrown at supermarkets - and yet Sainsbury sell own label Vinho Verde, Mateus Rose and own label red. Tesco sell a few more, but the range is not exactly mind blowing. What ViniPortugal need to understand is that it is not the supermarkets who set the agenda for what is going to sell, trends start with independents and specialist chains like Majestic (who stock 9 wines which although I haven't tasted all look interesting at least) and Oddbins (7 wines, cheaper but reasonable looking).

What ViniPortugal need to do is to start making a noise, spend the money getting consumers to taste wines and trying to get people to understand them.

I'll soon write my plan for getting Portugals wines taking off.

No comments: