The fortunes of top end SA wine in Europe are reflected in entries for this year’s Concours Mondial which are down over 20% to 184 while Australia’s are up by the same margin and New Zealand’s have rocketed over six fold. This for a competition widely regarded as the most credible and which has attracted a record number of entries this year: 8200 from 50 countries with 2500 from France alone. Which could explain why Fiona McDonald is the only other SA judge in Bratislava this year. But is SA wise to give CMB the cold shoulder and to follow the lead from WOSA which focuses on the UK market and competitions? The future for wine exports in Europe lies outside the traditional WOSA comfort zones with management seemingly stuck with SAA destinations to earn Voyager miles and to visit family and friends while claiming a handy per diem.
Russia is now #3 export destination for SA wines, with sales almost trebling to 37 million litres last year. As the late Boris Berezovsky would have told you, London is not the place from which to do business with Mother Russia. Meanwhile Jean Smullen, spokeswoman for Bacchus in Ireland, wonders if WOSA are still active as she gets harvest reports from every other major new world producer.
But then generic wine marketing bodies are all on the skids with the #1 man in Australia about to be given the flick while the Chilean marketing powerhouse is headed for hard times due to ill-health of a key player. Seems likely the Beautiful South show in London in September will be a swan song for more than just Su Birch.
It’s also bad news from Brussels on the SA Sauvignon Blanc front. Seems that €9 Sophie Terblanche (the category, not the bought-in brand) is under huge pressure from aromatic Portuguese whites at €6 while gin is all the rage as an aperitif, displacing formerly buoyant MCC by the glass. Every two weeks Belgian supermarkets launch another “4 for 2” promotion of French or Spanish wines. With production of SA Sauvignon expanding, watch out for price decreases for 2013 vintage wines.