Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

Interview: Allan Sichel, President, Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux

April 18, 2018

Bordeaux has rebounded in the U.S. in recent years, with shipments expanding by 63% from 2010-2017 to surpass 2.2 million cases.Bordeaux remains the largest French AOC in the U.S., although the Côtes de Provence is gaining quickly due to the skyrocketing rosé segment. While Bordeaux has made strides lately, Allan Sichel, president of the Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux trade group, believes there’s ample room for further progress. SND managing editor Daniel Marsteller recently met with Sichel to discuss Bordeaux’s evolution in the U.S.

SND: What are the key areas of focus for Bordeaux in the U.S. market currently?

Sichel: We’re very encouraged with the numbers for 2017, with Bordeaux up 6% by volume and 12% by value. But we still should be doing better. Bordeaux accounts for about 2% of the world’s wine production, so we should have at least that share of the U.S. market, and we’re not there yet. We’re targeting the intermediate price category of around $12-$25 a bottle.

SND: How has Bordeaux’s approach to the U.S. changed in recent years?

Sichel: Something that’s gradually changing is the idea of protecting one’s customers and understanding where one’s wines are sold. It used to be a free-for-all. You would sell your wines anytime to anyone anywhere. Many growers still have no idea who the end-consumer is. That’s one of the reasons we’ve underperformed in the U.S. market. Importers, distributors, and retailers historically have found it too difficult to invest behind the wine they’ve selected, because no one could guarantee that one of their competitors wouldn’t come in with the same wine a few weeks, months, or years later. Negoçiants need to have closer relationships with the growers they buy from, and growers need to understand where their wines are being distributed to avoid potential conflicts. Otherwise, distributors won’t invest to build those wines in the market.

SND: Do you foresee more Bordeaux producers striking exclusive import agreements in the U.S.?

Sichel: Probably. We’re seeing growers start to work with three or four negoçiants, which is manageable, rather than 30, which is not, because you can’t keep track of what everyone’s doing. It also requires the negoçiant to report back to the grower on where the wines are being sold. It will be a slow process. But it’s worth it, because you can develop a true relationship with a distributor, who is then much more inclined to give you feedback about how the wine is performing, and has more commitment and interest in building its distribution.

SND: How are you marketing Bordeaux to key gatekeepers at the retail and on-premise levels?

Sichel: The perception is that Bordeaux is one big mass, dominated by a few prominent names. What sommeliers like is something very specific, very unique, and produced in small volumes. But the truth is that most of Bordeaux matches that exactly. We need to put forward the stories of individual growers who are doing something unique—and there are many of them. The difficulty is getting those stories across, because that little grower at the back end of Entre-Deux-Mers is not able to spend weeks in New York visiting each retailer or sommelier. This is where digital tools can help us enormously in conveying those individual stories.

Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.

Tagged : ,


Previous :  Next :