A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
Initially the Italia del Vino-Consorzio, which comprises 11 producers*, aims to target China through Hong Kong.
The consorzio said: “Let’s all work together to conquer the Chinese market, one of the most promising in the immediate future, and create a ‘central command’ that can maximize the effectiveness of the many individual operations that have been launched so far in China: that’s the invitation going out from the ‘Italia del Vino-Consorzio’ to the entire Italian wine sector.
Consortium president Ettore Nicoletto was speaking on the eve of the IWS Fair in Hong Kong. He said:“Italy has to rediscover on the Chinese market the extraordinary strength and creativity that it put into winning over markets that we now consider almost ‘domestic’ and where it has been able, even in the recent past, to make excellent use of the resources at its disposal. The same thing has to happen in China: a huge, far-off and complex market where we have even been all too ‘prudent’ in the past”.
“It is in the markets of the future, such as China, that the games of strategy will be played over the next few years. But Italy’s overall production is, in spite of the signals we are receiving from consumers, too fragmented for us to be able to obtain major results,” said Nicoletto
“If we start to look at the specific characteristics of the Chinese market, we have to take into account that there is a very high share of consumption of domestic wines and that there is a more consolidated presence on the part of some of our competitors, France above all,” said Nicoletto.
According to the consorzio, in 2011 China consumed 156 million cases of wine, of which 130m were of Chinese wine. Of the remaining 26m, 8m were of French wine and 1.4m came from Italy.
“That’s simply too little,” said Nicoletto. “We have to invert this situation and improve our overall performance. In three years’ time, consumption in China will amount to 240m cases, an increase of more than 50%. For this reason we all have to act together and take advantage of this great opportunity that is opening up. Otherwise, we will always have a marginal position that does not befit the true role and substance of Italian wine,” said Nicoletto.
Nicoletto said:“The Italian wine sector has to find the means to set up a ‘central command’ that can launch a global Italian strategy in China, picking up on the positive signals that are coming from the marketplace: we have to construct an overall image for Italian wine, make consumers more aware of it and educate local sommeliers, restaurateurs and members of the trade.
“We also have to help Italian producers to equip themselves so that they can present themselves in the right way on the Chinese market. It’s a tremendous effort for a single entrepreneur. All together, though, we can do it,” said the consortium president.
At the IWS in Hong Kong Italia del Vino-Consorzio will be among the sponsors of the VIP Lounge.
*The Italia del Vino-Consorzio comprises:Banfi; Cantine Ferrari Fratelli Lunelli; Casa Vinicola Sartori; Casa Vinicola Zonin; F.lli Gancia; Gruppo Italiano Vini; Marchesi di Barolo; Medici Ermete & Figli; Santa Margherita; Società Agricola Drei Donà and Terredora.