Tuesday, May 12, 2009

All the Fun of the Fair... And more about Three Dollar Bill

The first day of the London International Wine Trade Fair was horribly revealing of the state of the wine world in Britain. The exhibition hall was smaller than in previous years, and there were convenient seating areas where exhibitors had pulled out at the last minute. Despite the more limited space, however, numbers of visitors felt decidedly light. Even so, the fair remains a good place to pick up gossip. Among the stories that were going around was the news that New Zealand has once again had a bumper harvest (though not quite as excessive as last year) so cheap Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc will make another appearance in UK supermarkets. (Readers may recall that Tesco recentky sold 1.8 million bottles at under £3.50 within the space of a week. A well-informed Australian also explained how Fred Franzia, inventor of Two Buck Chuck Californian wine is going to be able to sell Australian wine in the US at $3. Apparently Franzia will buy the wine in bulk from bankrupt companies and bottle it in America. For those - like me - who admire well-constructed machines, it is hard not to admire the devilishly clever mechanism that lies behind Franzia's scheme. Wine producers go bust because their wine is to expensive for the US market. Franzia buys their wine from the liquidators at fire sale prices. The arrival of Franzia's cheap Aussie wine (which I've nicknamed Three Dollar Bill) drives the perception of Australia down still further, and helps to drive more Aussie producers out of business. Which will, of course, serve to ensure that Franzia has another flood of give-away wine. Repeat ad-infinitum. Or until sufficient bankruptcies have taken place for no wine to be left...

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