Friday, May 27, 2005

Is Bordeaux burning??!!

Oh Good Lord! Rioting, monkey wrenching, what is going on over there???

Do you remember when the Big Three automakers in Detroit started getting clobbered by foreign imports? Aging production processes and equipment, poor quality control, almost no customer focus in design and marketing, the result: Declining market share. Who was defending the Big Three in the business press, almost no one outside of Detroit (lots of Americans bashed the Japanese producers but still bought Japanese cars). The expectation was that the Big Three would adapt or go out of business. Chrysler borrowed a BILLION dollars from the U.S. Government to stay afloat, and they overhauled their processes and, essentially, adapted to market conditions.

Now, what is the difference with that and the current situation with the French wine industry?

Here are some of the irrelevant and illogical excuses I have heard recently (all from separate people), if they sound a little redundant too, well, they are:
-France is the PREMIER wine producing region in the world
-No other country can match the quality of wine France produces
-Burgundian wines are without peer in the world
-Even California ‘cult’ wines cannot compete with the premier wines of Bordeaux (note here the author of this statement said ‘premier’ wines of Bordeaux)
-Bordeaux produces the finest red wines in the world, no other region comes close
-France is the center of the world of wine

Sorry, the quality argument is dead. Except for, and in my opinion, inclusive of the ultra premium category brands, the quality of French wines is now BELOW the quality of ‘New World’ wines and Spanish and Italian wines. (I will exclude champagnes from this)

Why apologize for the condition of the French wine industry. As a whole they failed to adapt. They failed to convince the consumer that they should buy French wine instead of Australian wine. They failed to study what the foreign consumer wanted, how they shopped, what they looked for.

Why apologize for that? How can you apologize for that? Remember General Motors marketing the Nova (No Va, in spanish = Does not GO) in Mexico? Remember the Big Three trying to sell left hand side mounted steering wheeled cars in Japan and Asia? Recognized UTTER FAILURES. Yet, the French do the exact wine equivalent and are defended in all quarters??? How? WHY??? TELL ME WHY??? Terroirist apologists just don’t get it, hopefully French producers will.

So where does that leave France? Simple, in the position of having to compete in the world market (exclude the super-premium market, snob appeal will sell those brands), or continue to be marginalized. Sure, get the French government to bail producers out, but if there isn’t a systemic change in the way French wine is marketed in the UK, US, etc., the situation will continue.

And kudos to the Wine Spectator and their article on 2002 and 2003 Burgundy. The top 7 wines listed in Bruce Sanderson’s 2002 Red Burgundy Values have a COMBINED total of LESS THAN 1000 CASES IMPORTED. Merde!! That is a stunning quantity being imported for U.S. consumption. Fan-fricken-tastic strategy!


Anonymous Derrick Schneider said...

I agree in general, but the Nova analogy, being an urban legend, is perhaps a poor choice.

May 27, 2005 3:14 PM  
Blogger Huge said...

Derrick, while I appreciate your thinly veiled attempt to demonstrate your knowledge of urban legends, I don't think that the use of the Nova is really a "poor choice". Are you saying that you think that selling a car called the Nova in spanish-speaking markets is a strong business decision?

Either way, you're splitting hairs a bit, don't you think?


May 27, 2005 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Derrick Schneider said...

"Either way, you're splitting hairs a bit, don't you think?"

Oh, certainly :) The point in the post is clear enough and true enough for that matter.

It's just that, if snopes is to be believed, the Nova didn't flop but in fact sold well enough (supposedly better than expected in Venezuela). So it might not be a strong business decision, but I'd argue it doesn't mesh with the "utter failures" description.

Of course, the thing about the Nova urban legend ("thinly veiled"? There was a veil there?) is that most people get the reference, so it illustrates the point even if it's not technically correct. It's taken on a life of its own (like "it's a moot point," I suppose).

May 27, 2005 5:57 PM  
Blogger Huge said...

"It's a moot point"

That's prety much what I was getting at...

Thanks for commenting.

May 27, 2005 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bordeaux is one of the best French wine region!

November 14, 2007 6:52 AM  

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