The wine trade is "obsessed" with provenance and needs to find other ways to persuade consumers to pay more than £5 for a bottle, delegates at the London International Wine & Spirits Fair were told this week.
"Provenance might be a marketing buzzword for everything from ice cream to crisps and that is great. But we have to remember these other categories have been adding value in other ways for years," said Mike Paul, the man behind South Africa's number one brand Kumala, who addressed the trade at a seminar entitled 'Terroir is Dead, Long Live Terroir'.
"In the meantime we haven't come up with any other marketing tools to promote wines. It is imperative we get out of the trap of thinking that provenance is all that matters and engage consumers in other ways if we want to grow value in the category."
The other panellists at the seminar organised by Orbital wines were Jason Korman, CEO, Stormhoek Wines; Jason Handford, owner of Handford Wines; Terence Kenny, export director, Champagne Pannier; and wine writer Joe Wadsack.
"The idea of terroir and provenance is being misused in the wine trade in the same way organics is," Wadsack told the audience. "If every wine out there has a place name on it then it ceases to have any meaning. Terroir is really only relevant at the top end."
Champagne was hailed as an example of where provenance has been successful in persuading consumers to pay more for a product.
"Speaking about wine without mentioning where it is from is like talking about clothes without mentioning the fabric," Pannier's Kenny said. "Give anyone a glass of wine and they will ask you where it is from."
Paul warned: "Proven-ance is a great marketing tool but it needs to be one of many. I hear people saying 'Oh they're only buying that because it's a nice bottle'. So what? Consumers buy all sorts of things just because of the packaging."