113 Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR Tel: 0207 6922700 fax: 0207 6922710 Email: agency@bibendum-wine.co.uk Web: www.bibendum-wine.co.uk Key contacts Managing directors Dan Jago Michael Saunders Agency sales manager Darrell Jones Key brands Valdivieso Catena Zapata Michel Laroche D'Arenberg Graham Beck Viña Bajoz Bodegas Borsao Calatrasi Primi Rioja, Gurpegui Muga Melini Chianti In whatever corner of the business world one looks, the talk is of creeping, or even rampant globalisation. This may be logical and even acceptable for the motor or insurance industries ­ but the wine industry? For many, even the notion of wine and industry in the same sentence is anathema. Bibendum managing director Dan Jago says: "Wine is all about diversity, craft, individuality and sense of place ­ hardly industrial attributes!" The big picture Jago has a broader vision of wine ­ from easily available consistent examples at one end of the spectrum to the most finely defined and complex esoterica at the other. He explains: "One of the factors those who would put themselves up as defenders of the faith' need to consider is the dramatic growth in the consumption of wine in the UK. In the 1970s wine was a pretty exotic tipple drunk by a very small percentage of the population ­ consumption was around three litres per capita. Today we are fast on the way to consuming 20 litres a head, and according to a recent report by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter consumption will grow 34% by 2005. "The simple fact is that most of us are now doing it! So, since wine drinking is now no longer the exclusive preserve of the moneyed chattering classes, it is inevitable that there will be a huge demand for reliable and affordable wines that can be bought and consumed with little fuss, less ceremony, and at relatively low cost." Creating a fine wine Bibendum believe that supermarket shelves and the wine lists of many chain restaurants and hotels are bulging with confusing labels at fighting price points that have little to differentiate them one from the other. Jago says: "Most are styled to suit the UK preference for clean fruit' and low prices. The great majority of affordable wines inevitably lack the three defining attributes: individuality, complexity, and a sense of place. How could they... when the vast majority of the purchase price pays for everything apart from the wine in the bottle? "In order to stand any chance of offering real points of difference, identifiable character, or a sense of place at price points consumers are willing to buy regularly, it requires highly organised and professional producers with critical mass in production to amortise the fixed costs required to optimise quality at a low cost. This is the major driver for consolidation and the ascendance of brands in our market." Jago predicts that there will be a shrinking number of wines in UK supermarkets and mass-market on-trade outlets as stronger regional and style-definitive big brands emerge to cover the main foundation bases of choice at the entry level. He says: "Also, they really don't have to be vinous versions of Coca Cola! That some of the early big brands have proved under-whelming is probably inevitable, but when we at Bibendum look at the sophistication and passion that goes into the crafting of some of the latest big brands' we see every hope that the consumer is going to get better and better entry level wine." Branding means choice Bibendum does not think that diversity will be lost as as a result of branding. Jago explains: " While the big producers have been getting bigger and more branded, an incredible array of small, often young, producers have been transforming lacklustre areas in the Old World into producing some stunning wines with that holy trinity: great complexity, individuality and incontrovertible sense of place. And their counterparts in the New World too have been pioneering to the same ends in interesting corners of every country. The fact is that today, and more especially tomorrow, the consumer will be confronted with a broader and more exciting spectrum of fabulous choice than at any other time in the history of fine wine." The logical future for supermarkets and everyday restaurants will be to offer up a range of really well made, affordable wines of vinosity and reliability. "That's the best way to get consumers to start drinking wine," says Jago, "and then to feel confident to order it more often and to go on and try even more complex examples. "As the terms globalisation and industry have started to be used alongside wine, a whole new counter-culture revolution is also ensuring that for all the consolidation at the entry level, diversity is being assured where it really makes sense; at the higher end of the quality and inevitably, price scale." {{Z SUPPLEMENTS }}