Sunday, April 23, 2006

Labels sell wine!!

Especially when they show cuddly, feathery or other critter creatures. Sales of "critter " label wines have seen dramatic increases over the past five years. When a critter is on the label, Americans buy a new wine twice as often as the competition, according to the marketing information company ACNielsen. This whole phenomenon started with the introduction of Australia's [yellow tail] Even Robert Parker has good things to say about this success story from down under. (More about Mr. Parker in my next blog entry.) Last year 7.5 million cases were sold in the US alone. Jon Fredrikson, a California wine industry consultant, calls it "the perfect wine for a public grown up on soft drinks." All the more remarkable when you consider America's love affair with white zinfandel: 35 percent of US consumers drink this wine, accounting for sales of twenty-one million cases last year. But the trend is changing as the American palate matures. According to AC Nielsen, sales of Pinot Grigio ( Pinot Gris) increased 18.6 percent last year. Pinot Gris is predicted to surpass white zinfandel as the fourth-largest varietal in just two years.
It is also predicted that by 2009, the US will become the largest wine consuming country in the world. Italy will remain in second place and France is expected to fall from first to third spot. A number of factors account for this increased consumption of wine in North America. An increased awareness of the health benefits from moderate drinking as well as the fact that wine is becoming much more a part of our culture. There is a keen interest in anything relating to wine. Wine tourism, along with culinary tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry.
For "critter" labels to be effective, the wine in the bottle has to be at least consumable. No one will buy the wine again, if it isn't at least good. Yellow tail delivers more wine than the price would indicate. Not great, but it satisfies the fruity style that Americans have grown to like. There are actually some "critter" label wines that are quite exceptional.
Venturi- Schulze Vineyards on Vancouver Island has a remarkable wine behind a different kind of critter label(shown at the top of this post). Not only is this an outstanding Champagne method wine but it also answers the question of which came first: The chicken or the egg. There is no doubt that it was the Grape that came first. The label was created by Cowichan Valley artist Angela Beltane. This fresh, lively, sparkling wine is made from Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine. It is named for the mix of small and large grapes in the Siegerrebe bunches.
How long will critter label wines stay popular? Anybody's guess. But I think only long enough for the next fad to come onto the marketing scene
Happy drinking and don't forget to pet your pet.

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