italian wine selection is becoming more and more appalling all over town. yesterday at threesixty, a speciality food store in central, i was seriously disappointed that italian wines represented the smallest selection. in fact, i have been noticing in the last 6-7 months that italian wines in hong kong are more and more ordinary and take less and less space on the shelves of food & wine shops around town.
i find this trend disturbing and, quite frankly, i only have the italian wine makers and italian trade bodies to blame for this.
yes, how many italian wine dinners have i heard of in the last 2-3 months? none. yet, the french and bordeaux in particular are all over town. there is not 1 week that goes by without a presentation of some kind from a french wine makers, australians, new zealanders, and americans. education is the most important marketing tool at this point time in this very immature market. yet, no efforts seem to be spent by the italians.
are they taking the chinese market for granted? do they think that brand "italia" will have enough power and strength so that consumers will simply flock to them in troves when the market will be mature enough ? i do not think so. italians wines are too complicated to pronounce for chinese people and the diversity of grapes, regions, and taste is just so much that there is really a lot of work to do. the french are doing such a good job at this and, in doing so, shaping the taste of consumers that they are really locking in the market. the work will just be harder to do later.
in fact, looking at sales figures in hong kong over the last few years, italian wines have seen a steady decline while just about every other wine regions of the world have seen increases with australia, chile, and of course france each with steep improvements.
why is it so?
i think italy is making a mistake by not investing (or investing too little) in the chinese market. they need to come here, organise wine dinners, tastings, and sponsor educational activities. this is critical otherwise, they will certainly miss the wave of the future.
a pity and a shame.