Bulk wine blues

(Image via International Bulk Wines & Spirits Show website)

A miffed winemaker writes,

“I wonder if you have seen this? Probably sent to every winery in New Zealand…

I felt as though something needed to be done with it, but couldn’t decide what. Therefore, send to Uncle Bob!

I just find it staggering and horrifying that any market would even want such crap, let alone have the gall to specify it in tender form. Especially a wealthy and supposedly sophisticated one like Sweden.

Worse than that, they will probably be inundated with offers!”

Tender details:

I am looking for a wine that meets all the requirements for a new tender to Systembolaget (Sweden)

New Zealand, East Coast, 2017, Bag in box, 150 cl or 200 cl, Systembolaget (Sweden)

Price in €: max 4.6 (150 cl)

Minimum quantity (in litres) of initial vintage: 60,000

Deadline documents: 12/07/2017 A-classified

Launch month: March 2018

ID: 14-19

Other requirements:

1. At least 20% pinot noir.

2. The remaining part shall consist of pinot gris

3. Max 5 g/L sugar

4. Pinot noir and/or pinot gris must be mentioned on packageing

5. Packaged and quoted manufacturer must be located in New Zealand.

Taste profile: We are looking for a youthful, dry, fresh and fruity wine with elements of raspberry, citrus and herbs. The wine should be light pink.

If you have a wine that meets all the criteria listed above, and which fits with the taste profile sought, then please send me the details of your wine and I will tell you how to proceed.

In summary, the Swedish importer is looking for wine packaged in bag-in-box (1.5 or 3 litres) and shipped to Sweden for a price of NZ $4.73 per litre.

How does that compare with per litre export prices for the year to June 2016?

The average price of all wine exported in 2016 was NZD$7.36 per litre, but that included both bottled and bulk wine. I would expect a higher average price for wine exported to countries that take more bottled wine and less bulk. China may be an example, the average price of wine sent to China is NZD $13.61/litre. The U.K now imports a fair bit of bulk wine which could explain a lower average of NZD $6.43. Last year Sweden’s average price of imported NZ wine was NZD $8.29, a significantly higher figure than the price the tender document is seeking.

The winemaker’s frustration centres around the fact that sub-standard wine quality damages New Zealand’s reputation in export markets. That is certainly true but it’s a fact of life that’s just as true in Bordeaux and Burgundy as it is in New Zealand.

However, I have some sympathy for the anonymous (my choice, not his/hers) winemaker’s gloomy view of the low-priced wine market. The thought of a pinot gris/pinot noir blend packaged in a bag-in-box costing NZD $4.73/litre produces a burning sensation in the back of my throat and a slight wave of nausea.

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