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Massive Changes

Friday, May 01, 2020

Picture this: It is Easter 2019, you are having a quiet drink with a few friends and a person walks in and tells you that in 12 months’ time tens of thousands of people around the world will be dead, every restaurant will be closed, there will be no planes in the sky, people will be confined to their houses unless they have a very good reason to go out, nobody is allowed to go away for Easter – You would have pissed yourself laughing and wondered which nut house that person had escaped from.  Well, today it is our reality!!

So what will the wine world look like for Easter 2021? Nobody knows or can tell, but there are some pointers which indicate what might be happening.

The first thing is that a substantial proportion of businesses will not survive this pandemic. This includes many restaurants and quite a few wineries (current estimates are that one-third of all Australian wineries will fold) – these numbers will be considerably mitigated by the Federal Government’s excellent JobKeeper support package, without which a massively larger number of businesses would fold.

The biggest future indicator for me, is what has been happening in China for many years, and will become the “norm” soon here – Internet shopping. I have written before about the high percentage of Chinese who order online (long before Coronavirus) and now that we have no option but to do so here, we will become a lot more familiar and comfortable with it.

We are seeing social media (especially Facebook) being peppered with ads for wineries offering special COVID-19 deals. As the number of ads increases, the effectiveness decreases as these ads just become part of the “white noise” in the background – unless they have a USP – Unique Selling Proposition. For example the Topper’s Mountain Wines advert which rather than just saying, “Hey were are here and will give a great deal if you punch in this “secret” code, simply has a great outdoor bottle shot and says: 

“Topper’s Touriga & Tintas 2016. Lots of character here. In fact it’s a very good wine full stop. Leathery, perfumed, ripped with tannin, glossy in some ways, resinous even, but savoury at heart. Fruit, graphite, cloves, something sweet and musky, something sour and dry. Many different things. There’s a huge swerve of tannin to the finish it’s part of the wine’s shtick and charm.”


It makes the wine very appealing, interesting and desirable to potential consumers. I had four friends flick this post through to me asking what I thought of the wine.

So, to stand out from the wine “white noise” that is inundating social media, you need to do things differently or else you are just wasting your time.

For those about to implement an online focus to your sales, please, please re-structure your price list (before launch) so as to offer FREE delivery to capital cities. Nothing puts a perspective buyer off more than seeing free delivery for orders over $XXXX – especially when what they had planned on ordering comes out a smidge below that figure. By the same token nothing endears people more than reading “we offer free delivery – because we value your business”.

So to achieve this level of service without compromising your profitability, you may have to consider putting the price of all your wines up by say $1 to $3 per bottle across the board to cover the postage. If so, then so be it as Post COVID-19 the number of cellar door visitors is very unlikely to rebound to what it was before, and the number of on-premise outlets to sell to will be significantly smaller as well. Therefore more and more of your business is going to have to be online if you are going to survive.

Now is the time to think carefully and deeply as to what you want your business to look like in a few months’ time when we come out the other side of COVID-19. Remember, “The early bird catches the worm”.

Food for thought!!!

Cheers and get cracking on formulating that plan!!

THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:

This week I am talking about a type of wine that has gone from being an integral part of fine dining, to being a rarity in todays’ politically-correct world, the divine temptation that is dessert wine.

I have always been a sucker for a good “sticky” with dessert at the end of a great meal. But alas mounting kilograms, alcohol intake limits, etc., mean that these days I very rarely indulge in the sheer pleasure of a sticky with fresh fruit or with a rich dessert.

I recently came across this divine sticky – the Hickinbotham of Dromana Mornington Peninsula Sauv Blanc Noble.

It is a gorgeous botrytis affected Sauvignon Blanc – a fairly rare thing as usually here in Australia, botrytis wines are made from Semillon or Riesling, along with the occasional botrytis Chardonnay.


This wine has a light, bright, golden-yellow colour, awesome aromas of citrus peel, dried apricots and honey, with a little dollop of Christmas pudding, making the bouquet intoxicating.

The palate is gorgeously sweet, very creamy, rich, flavoursome and beautifully balanced with just the right amount of acidity on the finish so that it doesn’t cloy. Boy, what a finish! It lingers for ages making the palate beg for more of this superb nectar.

To sum up its FRICKING BRILLIANT, and so thought the judges at the 2018 Victorian Wine Show where it scored a Trophy and Gold Medal.

Go to www.hickinbotham.biz and check this scrumbunctious wine along with the rest of their excellent range of wines. If you are looking for something different in the way of emerging wine varieties, their Aligote (French white variety) is also a cracker and one of only two wines made from this variety in Australia. Their Chardonnay is the epitome of Mornington cool-climate Chardonnay, whilst their Lagrein is an excellent example of cooler-climate Lagrein and similar in style to those from the better, warmer sites of Alto-Adige in Italy.

So, crack open a divine bottle of sticky to make the “lock-down” a bit more bearable and make your day at the same time. Whilst any sticky is “good stuff”, if you can get your hands on a Hickinbotham of Dromana SaUv Blanc Noble, your palate will love you and the world will seem a better place.  Cheers!