Does anybody care where the bubbles come from?

Does anybody care where the bubbles come from?

I'm at something of a crossroads when it comes to knowing what it is that today's consumers - particularly Millennials - want to drink. On the one hand, the big spirits brands are targeting the demographic using heritage and authenticity while, on the other, Millennial wine drinkers appear to want their wine brands to keep things simple.

Earlier this week, Treasury Wine Estates announced plans to launch its Californian wine brand, Blossom Hill, in Australia. What is of note here is that the Blossom Hill for the Australian market will be produced not in California, but in Australia. According to TWE, it is Blossom Hill's "accessible, uncomplicated, fruity style" that has a strong appeal for Millennial consumers. "Many people simply want to enjoy their wine, not to debate it or be confused by it," the company's Australia MD, Angus McPherson, said.

This coincides this month with Kingsland Drink's marketing controller, Jo Taylorson, telling us that UK consumers "don't care" how sparkling wine gets its bubbles. Drinkers often "assume that sparkling wine is carbonated in the same way soft drinks or beer is", Taylorson said, as she championed the company's new wine carbonation line.

If big-brand consumers don't care where grapes are grown or how wine comes to be fizzy, then what does this mean for the more established and traditional appellations and producers that have built their entire identity on terroir and historic production methods?

Confessions of a Millennial consumer - Comment

For some appellations, their 'big brand' is often the name of the appellation itself. How many Rioja, Chablis or Prosecco brands can you name, compared to, say, vodka brands in your market?

The beauty, then, of championing brands - such as Blossom Hill - and not appellations is that you can pretty much do what you like, provided you get the consumer on board.

On the traditional appellation side, companies seem to be waking up to the need for more prominent branding. Chablis producer Simonnet-Febvre's MD, Jean-Philipe Archambaud, recently told me that branding had become much more important to his company. Until about two years ago, Archambaud said, the brand name was overshadowed by the appellation on its labels. "Branding is important now," he said. "That's a new thing".

The hope for the wine industry as a whole, then, must be that as these younger consumers move into wine via accessible brands such as Blossom Hill, they will become more interested in concepts like appellations and detail such as how sparkling wine gets its fizz. 

One piece of advice worth heeding, though: Don't lie to consumers. They really hate that.