French wine labels will have a new look as the French government has unveiled its 5 year plan to modernise the wine industry with the aim of making French wine more competitive and mass marketable. The plan hopes to give the French winemakers a more even ground when competing with New World producers. Basically the labels can now include the grape variety (as do New World Wines), the château, region, year and the place where the wine was made.
French wines will now fall into 3 categories:
Vignobles de France – (Wines of France) replaces Vins de Table (Table Wine)
AOP – Appellation d’Origine Protegee which tallies with the old AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee).
The major changes are that growers can now plant any type of vine anywhere in France – Gewurztraminer will no longer be restricted to Alsace, for example, blended wines from different regions of France will be available for the first time, and producers will be able to use New World additives such as oak chips and tannins in their wine making – but only in the Vignobles de France category. Wine making is taken so seriously in France that the use of these additives had to be approved by President Nicolas Sarkozy and his cabinet.
Although French wine accounts for 35% of European production and Bordeaux fine wines and classified growths are an investable commodity it is worth remembering that 99% of wines bought globally cost less than £7.50 – and it is here that French wine has failed to market itself properly, trailing behind the Australians and Californians. This is not because the French wines in this price bracket are poor – far from it – it is because they are relatively unknown . . . which is where Bordeaux-Undiscovered comes into its own as we do our best to discover and promote superb wines which simply are unheard of here in the UK.
Clearer labels should help the French wine producers react to trends more quickly and market their wines with much greater efficiency. The Houston Chronicle’s article Wine Wars: The French Strike Back reports on a recent study at Oregon State University which has shown that we do judge a wine by its label and although the demographic is based in the USA the results relate to us here in the UK too.
The study, “Holistic Package Design and Consumer Brand Impressions,”by Professors Keven Malkewitz and Ulrich Orth asked 125 experts — graphic or industrial designers — to analyse the aesthetic attributes of photos of 160 wine bottles from mostly of less-recognized brands. The responses were sorted into 5 primary design types: massive (or bold), contrasting, natural, delicate and nondescript. Next, the photos were shown to 268 consumers in Oregon. They asked 15 questions about each bottle’s “brand personality,” including whether the brands seemed sincere, exciting, competent, sophisticated or even rugged.
“Consumers found “massive” packaging (Wine by Joe was an example) and contrasting designs (the label on Australia’s Yellow Tail) to be exciting and eye-catching. But they also expected them to be low in competence and sophistication, of lower quality and less expensive, the study found. Additionally, wines with highly contrasting designs were thought to be rugged.
Natural designs — like Washington state’s Château Ste. Michelle — were thought to be sincere, competent and sophisticated wines, but not especially exciting. Consumers also expected these wines to be expensive but of high quality and a good value.
Delicate designs — Italy’s Travaglini, for example — also scored high on competence and sophistication and were expected to be of high quality, classy and expensive. Consumers found nondescript designs — California’s Fusee — insincere, and believed they were corporate and of little value for the money.
Malkewitz said the results showed some wineries — Yellow Tail’s colourful kangaroo set against a black backdrop — have successfully aligned their packaging with their content and pricing, sending a clear message to consumers.
“Yellow Tail is accurately signalling who they are and what they do with their packaging,” said Malkewitz, a former marketing executive at Adidas.”
It will be interesting to see what the French come up with in the way of new labels – I’ll keep you posted!
Images Courtesy of www.flickr.com