July 26 2011
Within the span of 24-hours this past weekend, I had a conversation with an Australian wine marketing representative who described her role as, “The toughest job in the wine business,” and word spread about a wee wine accident Down Under.
In a story that was picked up by Time, CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post and most major news outlets, it seems 461 cases of a 462 case parcel of the 2010 Mollydooker “Velvet Glove” Shiraz destined for the U.S. was dropped by a forklift while loading a container, creating broken bottles and, at the least, damage to the bespoke bottles with a velvet label and a $185 per bottle price tag.
Initial news reports were quick to point out that the wine was insured.
I was in the company of wine writer’s this past weekend and they pondered whether this massive wine spill was actually a bad thing—the Mollydooker wines having a certain reputation for their over-the-top blowsy style favored by Parker and Wine Spectator who reviewed the 2009 vintage with scores of 97 and 96, respectively.
On Monday, July 25th the winery issued its own press release answering some “whys and wherefores” in how the accident happened after news reports were largely based on the scant original reporting from the Associated Press.
Yet, interestingly, Decanter.com subsequently reported that the winery press release with the headline, “Years of Tears and Sweat and More Than $1 Million Worth of Fine Wine Go Down the Drain” was rescinded and replaced with another press release titled, “Years of Love and Care, and More Than $1 Million Worth of Fine Wine, Go Down the Drain.”
If you’re ever curious about what happens when a press release is pulled online go ahead and search for the first headline I mentioned and you’ll see pages and pages of empty pages from syndicated press releases that serve as content for news sites.
Aside from the curiosity of all of this – broken bottles and the vagaries of press release headlines—the reality remains that this is probably the best thing that could possibly happen for Mollydooker and their “Velvet Glove” brand. With an insurance policy, millions and millions of dollars of free press and the not inconsequential fact that despite its incredible critical scores, the 2009 wine (called a “Cult” wine by some) is largely available in the U.S. with plummeting pricing, winery owners Sarah and Sparky Marquis should be just fine despite the quote from Sparky where he noted, “This wine is our pride and joy, so to see it accidentally destroyed, and not consumed, has left us all a bit numb.”
Wine-Searcher tells a more interesting story. The below graph illustrates the drop in price at U.S. retail over the last 12 months, which is decidedly, non-“cult-ish.”
To respond to the rhetorical statement from my new Australian wine marketing friend who described her job as, “The toughest job in the wine business,” I would say: The toughest job in the wine business is convincing a retailer to buy the 2010 Velvet Glove when the 2009 with insanely good ratings is still widely available below suggested retail price.
While the Marquis’ may be “numb” and crying over spilled wine, U.S. wine retailers are crying over dead inventory and there’s no insurance for that.