Drinking Outside The Box

With Simon Woods – wine for people who have a life

New World Wine Alliance July 15, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Published by 9 Comments

Breaking news! In an effort to maintain their share of the world wine market, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal have decided that they will be collaborating in the future to present a combined front against the onslaught of New World wines…

OK, OK, it could never happen. Even the idea of the folk from Burgundy and Bordeaux, or Tuscany and Piedmont combining under a French/Italian banner to promote their wines side by side just doesn’t happen – indeed, the idea of the folk in Barolo and Barbaresco working together requires an adventurous imagination.

Yet the news today is that Argentina, California, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa have combined to form something called New World Wine Alliance and will be grouped together in a single hall to showcase their wines at Germany’s annual ProWein in March next year (Australia apparently is now concentrating on the Far East and hasn’t mucked in with the others). The press release says, ‘All five regions [sic] have continued to grow exports despite the global credit crisis and believe that by working in concert they stand a better chance of competing against the EU, whose own wine-producing members are supported by substantial subsidies in their international marketing initiatives.’

It goes on to list the number of ways in which the five have succeeded in building their wine trades – aggressive branding; demystifying wine; focusing on technical, packaging and marketing innovation; and putting an increasing accent on sustainable wine-growing and wine production.

All well and good, all commendable. But in the middle of this list, one initiative sticks out like a sore thumb – ‘by playing up their regional strengths.’ Now forgive me if I’m being naive, but how on earth does lumping five rather large and quite disparate countries/states together under one banner accentuate the regional strengths? What does Valle de Uco Malbec have to do with Awatere Sauvignon Blanc or Walker Bay Pinotage?

Yet I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Alliance succeed. The five might make quite different wines but what unites them is the lack of Old World baggage. All of them still realise that they need to keep the smiles on their customers’ faces, something France especially forgot about a long time ago. So while the Old World section at next year’s ProWein may have several great wines on offer for those prepared to seek them out, I imagine the hall housing the New World Alliance will be the noisiest, the friendliest and the place where most business is done – not to mention the scene of the greatest consumption of that wine trade essential called ‘beer’ at the end of each day.

Categorised in: Argentina, Australia, California, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa


  • Ben Smith says:

    Also New World Wine Alliance has a distinctly Star Wars ring to it – and you bet they would be the good guys…

  • Simon says:

    …with the army headed by Luke Skywalkerbay. Just returned from your Leeds tasting…

  • Charlotte says:

    Thanks guys – you’ve given me interesting costume ideas which I shall put my fellow colleagues in the federal alliance. (Bagsie me Princess Leia)!

  • Simon says:

    …with your former colleague Wozza as Chewbacca

  • Oh, yea. Successful. And the website is… where?

  • Simon says:

    Hi Ken & Francesca
    The website? Or perhaps the twitter feed? Or the Facebook page? We live in hope. But to get to such a stage would probably require so many committee meetings that they might not even be ready for ProWein 2011. Which of course would be several decades before any collaboration between France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal would be ready…

  • Margaret says:

    There still seem to be more questions than answers at this point… but certainly an interesting move on the part of the “little guys.”

  • Simon says:

    What’s also been interesting is the lack of comment from the European wine producing countries. Is it that they haven’t heard of it, are pretending they haven’t heard of it, are just ignoring it because it doesn’t relate to them, or are planning to do something about it when everyone has returned from holiday and they can schedule an extraordinary committee meeting on the subject?

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