Tackling Bordeaux’s image……..

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………….. 12×75.com style



What a strange 12 months it has been for Bordeaux.  While we were hardly expecting Bordeaux to spend very long revelling in the glory of the rather ordinary 2011 vintage, on reading most articles about French wine you would almost think they had slipped off the map completely.  Burgundy, on the other hand, is rapidly becoming the investors’ first choice.

We’ve blogged at length before on 12×75.com about Bordeaux’s ongoing image problems.  Bordeaux just isn’t cool, unfortunately.  It doesn’t seem to matter how much they love it in China, and how many rich people are drinking it, it will never have the sexy and charismatic allure of a stinky mature red Burgundy or a velvety Super-Tuscan or a rock and roll Californian belter.  It lacks the boutique appeal of wines that are produced in much smaller quantities, and in spite of Mouton Rothschild going against the grain and commissioning (or pandering to) artists to put a bit of effort into their labels, they just don’t look cool.  “I know what we should put on the label – a small yet accurate illustration of a Chateau” is not a marketing idea that would be used under any other circumstances.  Ancient laws seem to dictate the rest.  So re-branding seems to be out of the question.

We love our Claret at 12×75.com and so maybe it is time we stepped in to save the street cred of our favourite uncool beverage.  Scanning the net for inspiration, I came up with a few ideas.  Bordeaux producers, I hope you are paying attention.

  1.  Sexing it up with an erotic Bordeaux calendar for 2014… as you can see here on The Drinks Business website, the racier the better.  Sexy images of all our favourite Bordeaux hotties writhing around in the fermentation vats, frolicking amongst the vines, and so on.
  2. Becoming the new mavericks of the wine scene by uniting together to ignore all French wine laws regarding permitted varietals, labelling and the 1855 classification.  Remember that when the Super-Tuscan wines first came to our attention, due to their use of non-indigenous grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, their only option was to carry the humble “Vino de Tavola” status, until the relevant authorities realised they were onto a winner and developed the Indicazione Geografica Tipica status for wines that didn’t fit neatly into their rather outdated quality wine classification system.  And it certainly didn’t do their reputation any harm.  This could be a chance for maverick winemakers to really strut their stuff; bring on the sparkling Petrus!
  3. Spread rumours about itself…. Everyone knows that the best way to get a cool reputation is to spread carefully selected rumours about oneself.  “Burgundy is the new Bordeaux” and “The New World is far more interesting than France” had to start somewhere.
  4. Stop messing about with ridiculously high prices that exclude people from actually drinking it.  I mean honestly, most of us wouldn’t have a clue whether Bordeaux is cool or not, because we so rarely get to taste the top wines.  And we never will, as long as Chinese millionaires keep drinking them while they still tastes like the barrels they were matured in.
  5. Bordeaux should disassociate itself from Robert Parker.  We love Parker but he is hardly the young, hip posterboy for a cool product.  Try to lure him into a cellar with a plate of food, and then unveil Gary Vaynerchuk as the new, cool face of Bordeaux.  Or possibly Matt Damon or even J-Lo, why the hell not?
  6. And finally, to launch Bordeaux’s hip new image, how about some sort of ridiculous stunt to get people’s attention, like that Red Bull fellow who came from outer space?  (Or something, I didn’t really pay enough attention to that story)  Or how about killing two birds with one stone and launching Parker into space?  Once the media frenzy has died down we could just leave him there as some sort of intergalactic wine superhero.

It isn’t easy to change the image of a product that takes itself so seriously, nor one so immersed in laws and regulation.  And let’s face it, when a product sells itself before it has even been bottled, what’s the point in changing it?  But as long as average vintages seem to generate more headlines than good ones, there still might come a time when Bordeaux’s loyal customer base find themselves sipping Burgundy and slating Parker and flicking through the Babes of Burgundy 2014 calendar and wondering what all the Bordeaux fuss was about.  And then, Bordeaux producers, you might just wish you had listened to our ideas….