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12.04.2005

Some French Continue To Get It Completely Wrong

I continue to be amazed at what seems to me to be the jaw-dropping stupidity of the major marketing and trade bodies of the French wine industry. Their houses are on fire, and they are holding meetings at which they are basically deciding, well, instead of putting out the fire, why don't we just decide that we don't live there anymore -- problem solved!

OK. Maybe that's too obscure of a metaphor. Basically, though, the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur unions (the marketing and trade bodies which represent the Bordeaux chateaux) are acting like the steel industry in the Nineties -- trying to prop up the price of their product when really the problem is that it's too expensive in the first place and they're doing a lousy job of marketing it to boot.

Bordeaux wine prices (that is, what people are willing to pay on the market for wines from Bordeaux) have been falling as of late, especially in the mid- to low-priced wines. I (in my highly opinionated and partially informed state) attribute this to two main factors -- 1. The prices got driven up too high by general economic upswings in the 1990's and 2. People are less and less interested in buying Bordeaux because they don't understand and appreciate the wines, and because many people don't like the way they taste.

Now France can't do anything about the the first reason, but they can do something about the second, which would entail actually figuring out how to market to the world wine drinking audience, and relaxing some Appellation regulations to allow winemakers more freedom to make wines that might actually sell.

Instead, though, they are trying to fake the market out and "reduce the supply of Bordeaux" by simply telling many winemakers that they can no longer call their wines Bordeaux.

Riiiiiiiiight. So let me get this straight. You have 10,000,000 gallons of wine, or something like that. And the best price you can get on the market for it per bottle is $5. So one day you decide to tell everyone that actually only 5,000,000 of those gallons aren't real wine, and you expect the world to jump and say, "Oh. Well then. I guess we'll pay $8 a bottle for it" ? Meanwhile the people who own the most elite classed growths (the First Growths, Grand Crus, etc.) say that they have nothing to do with the problem, and that working with the lower and mid-range wineries isn't "relevant" to them.

Please ignore the clueless unions behind the curtain.
Somehow I don't think this is going to make the guys with the ski masks, sledgehammers, and baseball bats any easier to deal with. (Not that they should be appeased or mollified in any way -- they just need to be locked up, and quickly).

Who, or what, is going to come to the rescue of our beloved France?

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