With the end of the year looming, just-drinks takes a look back at 2019. Here are the ten most-read comment articles written by our wine experts, led by category commentator Chris Losh, over the last 12 months.
We’re all used to the rumour mill churning out the well-worn trope, and March was no exception: Pernod Ricard is mulling an offload of its wine business, the headlines screamed – again. I’m less interested here in the pros and cons for Pernod of having wine brands alongside spirits: Lord knows, we’ve discussed this enough.
The wine category has long had a reputation for being too slow to react to changing trends, both among consumers and within the industry. Wine commentator Chris Losh highlights a bold move to right these wrongs, from – of all places – France
In his March missive for just-drinks, Chris Losh voices his concerns about what he sees as the over-complication of the category at a time when consumers are craving less detail, not more.
While the efforts of brewers and distillers to create products with lower alcohol content are well-known, the wine industry has garnered far fewer such headlines. Chris Losh looked at the difficulties affecting not only the production of ‘lighter wine’ but also the consumers’ uptake of the concept – despite their purported interest.
The times, they are a-changing. As newer consumers consider what to drink, Chris Losh suggested the answer for wine is already here – provided the category can get away from its obsession with glass bottles.
Goodness me, they’re all at it! Wine’s major players all appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet, the title of which is ‘Premiumisation’. Since appointing Michael Clarke as CEO five years ago, Treasury Wine Estates has sung loudly about its moves in the direction of value rather than volume. Speaking to just-drinks two years ago, Clarke laid this new strategy bare: “We’ve been asked if we could allocate more wine into the current year,” he told me. “We’re not going to do that.”
Chris Losh has been around long enough to know ‘category change’ when he sees it. As a wine commentator, however, he hasn’t had too much change to report on. Until now.
Climate change is having a seismic effect on the global wine industry, but not only in the vineyards. Chris Losh believes consumer sentiment towards companies is also taking a hit from freak weather spates.
Michael Clarke’s tenure as CEO of Treasury Wine Estates has been remarkable. The hard-headed South African brought his FMCG nous to a company – and a category – that five years ago was in a far worse state than it is today. That many wine companies have tried to ape Clarke’s focus on growing value to the detriment of volumes – Pernod Ricard and Concha y Toro, for example – shows the effect he has had not only on Treasury, in particular, but on wine, in general.
Chris Losh spent some time on ‘the other side’ and returned from his recent visit to the spirits world armed with some challenging advice for the wine trade.