Screwcaps and New World Wines – a Marketing Innovation? Charlotte Read – Villa Maria Estate, New Zealand March 21 2010
Presentation Outline • The Premise for screwcaps • History of screwcaps use in wine • Impact of Screwcaps - the rapid spread of screwcaps – especially in the New World • Does the use of screwcaps represent a Marketing Innovation in the wine industry? • The future
Why Screwcaps?A picture says a thousand words Screwcap Range of different Closures - 28 months after bottling P. Godden AWRI
Why Screw Caps • Elimination of cork taint • Elimination of random wine oxidation • Wines which taste fresher and livelier • Prolonged and controlled ageing of both red and white wines • Consistency of ageing, from one bottle to the next • Convenience – easy to open • Upright or lay down storage & re-sealable for convenience • Feel positive when pouring the wine knowing it will be in pristine condition
Urban Myths • A cork is required for wine to develop and age properly • Screwcaps might be OK for wines you drink young, but • Great wines need corks to age • Wine needs to breathe and only a cork allows this • Screwcaps can cause reductive characters in the wine THEY ARE ALL WRONG - LIBRARY OF WIDESPREAD EVIDENCE NOW AVAILABLE TO DISPEL MISCONCEPTIONS
The Beginnings • 1889 • Dan Rylands, UK patents screw cap • 1913 • Widespread use of screw cap in whiskey industry. • Late 1950s • Wine screw cap developed by French Manufacturer, La Bouchage Mecanique now the registered trademark of Pea-Pechiney. • 1970s • First commercial bottling with screw caps at Hammel Winery, Switzerland's • 1977 – some producers in Australia and New Zealand including Yalumba Wines in Australia & Selaks in NZ adopt screwcap for some of their wines. This is not commercially successful • 1999 • Australian Wine Research Institute’s Closures Trial commences
Decade of the Screwcap • 2000 • Clare Valley Riesling vintage bottled under Screwcap. “Riesling with a Twist” Campaign • Napa Valley’s Plumpjack release top red wine, 1997 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, under Screwcap. • 2001 • New Zealand Screwcap Initiative formed – 28 initial members. • 2002 • UK Supermarkets demand Screwcap closures. Tesco launch “Unwind’ range/ campaign. • Villa Maria first major wine company to commit to having 100% under screw cap. • 2003 • Wine International Vinexpo tasting - comparison of 40 fine wines sealed in both screwcap & cork • 2004 • First international Screw Cap Symposium, Marlborough NZ • Andre Lurton, Paul Blanck and Laroche use screwcap on their ultra premium wines
The Impact of Screwcaps 2004 2010 Over 3 Billion 100 million = A growth of 3 000 %
Screw Caps Today • Quoted in Decanter, March 2009 as 2.5 billion units - 14% of the 17.5 billion global wine market.
Highest percentage of screwcap market share Estimation for Chile : 40 % on the total volume of bottled wine
New Zealand and Screwcaps • Such high uptake from New Zealand producers due to a number of factors: • History of innovative attitude (stainless steel, refrigeration canopy managements etc) • Not bound by traditions/ legislation. • Collective approach - big and small producers • Willingness to include breadth of offering: red and white/ all price points. • Signature variety of Sauvignon Blanc particularity suited to screwcap, but quickly adopted for all varieties.
Not Just New World Producers • New World countries driving this, but also estimated 1 billion sales from European wines Jamie Goode, Decanter March 2009 • 2002 Domaine Laroche, the first French producer to use screwcap on Grand Cru wines. • In 2005, Burgundian négociant Jean-Claude Boisset announced its move to screwcaps in these words: "The tasting which triggered this off was that of a distinguished Mercurey 1966 closed by a screw cap, presented by a dignitary of the Chair of Oenology at the Université de Bourgogne…. It turned out that the wine had an absolutely fantastic freshness, great body, and was in superb condition."
Is the Screwcap a Marketing Innovation? • Widespread introduction of the screwcap, driven by winemakers, seeking improved quality and reliability in their wine. • Without 100% commitment to screw cap to guarantee quality Villa Maria could not remain true to its commitment to be New Zealand’s most awarded winery which is the centre point of its positioning • However Michel Laroche back in 2004 stated that innovation is one thing. Transforming it into a reality that is widely accepted by the consumer is quite another...
Innovation in Marketing • Innovative Marketing strategies needed to overcome initial resistance from some trade and consumers with regards to lower quality perception/ loss of ‘romance’. • Breadth of offering crucial – not just drink-now, lower priced wines - top quality wines (red as well as white) offered. (VM along with other NZ wine producers started using screwcaps with our Reserve wines first rather than lower priced wines) • Hit the influencers – use of comparative tastings crucial: • Media – “I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to experience one of the most profound wine comparisons I have ever encountered”. Tyson Stelzer at comparative tasting for Felton Rd 2001 Pinot Noir in 2007 • Trade/ distributors • Sommeliers /restaurateurs - “ screw caps.. offer better freshness and overall quality”. Joelle Marti, wine buyer Great Eastern Hotel, London • Retail :supermarkets /independents • Examples of how Villa targeted these audiences
In Summary.... • Screwcaps use in the wine industry has been a dramatic and very positive development over the past decade and the customer is getting a better quality wine – they are very unforgiving of clumsy wine making • Will be great to observe wine consumers’ screw capped bottle aging expectations rise. As the wines—commercial and great, red and white—live longer and develop better in bottle • Cork producers will continue down their own path of innovation • The growth in the use of screwcaps has been rapid and will continue. According to the world's best known wine critic, Robert Parker, wines bottled with corks will be in the minority by 2015