Blog: Chris MercerOn the Floor at LIWF - Day Two

Chris Mercer | 18 May 2011

It's day two, I've unjustifiably escaped a hangover and a press release for Motörhead Shiraz wine has just landed on the just-drinks stand.

Is it possible to get bored of Champagne? At last night's aftershow boat party, nicely set up by Cube Communications, a few of us searched for an answer.

By rights, it should have been a hazy start to day two of the London International Wine Fair (LIWF). But, just-drinks is made of stern stuff. We were up bright and early to scour the scene at Excel, and even managed to both tweet and take notes on a Euromonitor seminar about the prospects for wine in Western Europe.

Of course, you can hear more about prospects in the UK at the just-drinks briefing at 1615 this afternoon.

One of the most sensible outlooks on the UK wine market that I have heard so far this week came from Constellation Europe's commercial general manager for Europe, James Lousada.

Of course, Constellation aren't here officially at LIWF, but I found time for a clandestine chat with James on the fringes of the show. Lousada's argument is that, with so many wine consumers in the UK, there simply has to be a way to improve returns and make the market work.

Granted, Constellation must take this approach due to its size. It estimates that it has an 18% volume share of the UK wine market and Lousada reiterated that the UK is "critically important" to the business, which is soon to morph into Accolade Wines under new owners CHAMP Private Equity. Still, Lousada's simple premise is relevant. The demand for wine is there.

Anyway, enough of that. Let's move on to Motörhead, who are publicising their namesake Shiraz here at the show. It's made by Australia's Broken Back Winery, but band founder Lemmy is at the forefront of the move, according to the press release here in front of me. "My advice is - approach with caution," he said. Thanks, Lemmy, we will.

Continuing the lighter theme, I've just met Dave Smallwood of Funky Bottle. He's started a business that specialises in alcohol in unusual bottles, such as this Red Army Vodka packaged in a mock-up AK-47. Good luck getting that through customs, but an interesting idea.








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