An invitation to judge wine competitions in Japan and China last month gave me an irresistible opportunity to take a good look at the fledgling wine industries of these two Asian powerhouses side by side. Comparisons are, as they say, odious and the differences are far in fact far more interesting and extensive than any features they have in common.
Offers for Bordeaux 2011 are now closing or closed. Did you notice? The ‘campaign’ to sell the Bordeaux 2011 vintage is a candidate for the most disastrous ever. How such a normally savvy region can get it quite so wrong is hard to grasp, but the Greek word hubris comes to mind. With a unique system known as the place, all the donkey work of selling is done by the city’s merchants, so the châteaux don’t have to get their hands dirty. But the châteaux do the pricing and they came unstuck this time round thanks to overpricing a little better than modest vintage.
In its efforts to communicate the pleasures of wine, this column tends to focus on supermarkets because they sell eight in 10 bottles. Some of the best wines though are often only available in a few branches or online. Worse, some still promote the half-price (or less) offer as if the wine is a bargain. Twitter at #wineripoff focused on this cynical ploy recently with Tweeters sending pictures of ‘shelf barkers’ showing both Tesco and Sainsbury’s claiming big price slashes for wines worth nowhere near their stated price.