Consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt calls on negociants to get proactive over Bordeaux bashing

Thursday February 04 2021 by Vitisphere

 “Up until now, we have been selling wine. Now we have to sell ideas, and Bordeaux has that”, says Stéphane Derenoncourt. “Up until now, we have been selling wine. Now we have to sell ideas, and Bordeaux has that”, says Stéphane Derenoncourt. - Photo credit : Iconic Winemakers

With his colleague Michel Rolland, Stéphane Derenoncourt has released a new label – Iconic Winemaker – designed as a ‘manifesto’ to illustrate the potential of Bordeaux wines.

The Iconic Winemakers range was devised to combat Bordeaux bashing. How would you define the way Bordeaux wines are disparaged?

Stéphane Derenoncourt: I see it as unfair treatment compared to many producers. The way Bordeaux’s image is ridiculed has reached new heights, but it's only natural considering Bordeaux's behaviour – its outdated conventions and a kind of bourgeois attitude are not suited to this century. The issues are about communication, marketing and positioning in relation to the expectations of today’s consumer. More importantly, distribution needs to be reviewed.

There are too many middlemen in the Bordeaux marketplace. The model works for classified luxury wines, but not for everyday wines, which are consumer goods. The Bordeaux wine trade makes a fortune out of speculation, not only on wines from Bordeaux, but also from Italy, Chile and California for instance. It does it very well, but this doesn’t resolve the problem [of Bordeaux bashing]. The breakdown in relations with the consumer is not because of the taste of Bordeaux wine but because of its distribution.

Consumers seem to expect a special relationship with the wine producer. Is there not a risk that emphasising the consultant's name might sever ties with the vineyard?

When you launch an initiative in a weak position, you run the risk of being criticised. We are expecting it [with Michel Rolland]. In terms of image, the consultant is not the one who severs the ties between consumers and the production side. We need to renew distribution and trade to put the winegrower back centre stage. We need to create demand despite strong competition. Bordeaux wines need sales representatives and people who support them. There is a story, but it is not being told.

At Derenoncourt Consultants, we have been trying for some years now to shake things up, which is what drove me to partner with Michel Rolland. These first two wines show the range of possibilities in Bordeaux. They are different wines, in terms of vineyard sites and grape varieties, but are also flavourful and accessible. The aim is not to make money, but to get a dialogue going. We have a presence in vineyards the world over and are demonstrating our attachment to the region.


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