Saturday, June 9, 2007

Local Wine Importers Part 1: The New Wave

This is a series of three posts/articles about local importers.

This is all about perception, not a discussion about business plans. I'm no more an MBA than I am an MW so what I'm going to talk about is how I perceive the various local importers, where the're positioned and where they're headed.

Recently, there has been a wave of small, boutique importers, carving out niches in wine regions they have a special affinity for. The problem is, as is obvious from this post, is there are so damned few of those importers.

Giaconda

It's obvious I love the wines imported by Giaconda (mostly German wines right now, some New Zealand wines) and they're one of my main sources these days. They have a fantastic catalog with some good deals to be found on the Kabinett level though some wines are expensive to begin with and, in general, are not cheaper in Israel. Now that the tarrifs on low alcohol wines seem to have been rationalized, I would guess that other importers, WineRoute comes to mind, might want to get in on the action. But they'd have to bring in wines of similar quality to make a similar dent on my wallet.

Mersch

The Australian wines imported by Mersch are not really my cup of tea but I'm such a lovable democrat, I'll willingly defend any importer who tries something new. Seriously, more power to them; remember, Australia isn't just a country, it's a continent, and it galls me that until now only the big corporate labels have been imported for the most part.

The Doosh

The Doosh has been importing Piedmonte wines for a couple of years now, so it's not actually a new import business but as he was perhaps the harbringer of the new wave, he deserves a mention here. How much competition can he offer WineRoute's new Piedmonte catalog, though? The producers he carries are less "sexy", arguably of lower quality, quite often can very good value for money, but they need to be tasted before purchase because it's not easy to find international reviews for these wines (unlike WineRoute's imports). And he does bring some wines I don't see WineRoute ever bothering with (Ghemme, Gringolino d'Asti).

The bottom line is we need more small, passionate, specialist importers. There are so many niches waiting to be filled. And as long as it's not an obvious rip-off, I'm willing to pay a premium for buying from a small outfit. I just hope the fact that there have only been three such new enterprises over the past two-three years is not a sign that the market has played itself out.

Next Part - The Big Boys

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