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Larger bottles increase perception of quality

Are Australian producers catching onto the trend among US wineries of using heavier and larger bottles to differentiate their product offering and create a perception of quality?

Tania Brown, operations manager of Peter Lehmann Wines says yes.

“It is an industry standard to use taller bottles for a premium wine to convey quality,” she said. “The bottles chosen for Peter Lehmann wines are an industry standard weight and are the glass is Australian made. Our cues in bottle choice are taken from the market and we are certainly look to create a perception of quality.”

Paul Gordon, winemaker at Leconfield Coonawarra agrees that a taller, tapered and coloured bottle appeals to a wine drinker looking for a premium quality wine.

The winery is currently using the Super Premium Claret bottle ACI 30144 weighing 750g.

Brigitte Lynch, sales, marketing, export and production coordinator of Leconfield Coonawarra says the choice was made because of the bottle’s elegance.

“The bottle lends itself nicely to our labels’ design. The other bottle in the heavy range is the sparkling, which is an ACI15546 weighing about 890g. We use this bottle for our Leconfield Syn Cuvée Blanc and Leconfield Sparkling Shiraz. Again we have chosen this bottle because of its visual appeal,” she said.

Choosing a taller or oddly shaped bottle brings implications that need to be considered prior to bottling.

Tony Royal, managing director of Portavin South Australia says a shift is becoming increasing evident towards using unusual bottles, particularly in the premium wine market as competition intensifies and wineries seek a point-of-difference.

“Bottling companies need to be informed on the job’s specifications sheet if a taller, reverse tapered, heavier or otherwise oddly shaped bottle is to be used. Niche bottles incur change parts on the bottling line but there are usually no problems associated with using an unusual bottle,” Tony said.

“Portavin SA runs through a mocked-up empty bottle according to the specification sheet and once all the dry goods are in place, the wine is called up from the winery. This way there are no surprises once bottling begins.”

While it clear that producers of wine above the $10 price point are conscious of the importance of wine labelling and packaging, some are choosing to only upgrade some of the bottles in their portfolio to match consumer expectations.

High-end wine producers are willing to spend more on bottles and at the same time, volume producers are seeking to save money by choosing lighter bottles.

Constellation Brands vice president of US East Coast Operations, Peter Lijewski told Wine Business Monthly, published by Winetitles’ editorial collaborative partner Wine Communications Group, that consumers who buy wines priced above US$12 are impressed by heavier bottles, saying “heavier glass is one the quality clues they perceive”.

“[The consumer] wants the weight in the right place, where the hand grabs it and in the base, not at the top of the bottle where it seems unstable. A deep punt, which requires more glass, is another clue,” Peter said.

Peter explained that for volume producers, weight costs more not only in bottles but in transportation.

“[Producers] may not even be able to fill a truck because of the weight, but they could with lighter bottles,” he said. “Take 1.5oz (42.5g) out of a bottle saves 600lbs (272kg) in 10 pallets. That’s a significant difference.”

Just add a basic label, says Gens X and Y

The abundance of cleanskins on the market at present is great news for the bargain-hunting consumer and acts as a clearance of bulk wine, but what does it mean for suppliers in the business of labelling and packaging?

Barbara Harkness, creative director of Adelaide-based Harkness Walker Design (HWD) has recognised the market’s acceptance of cleanskin wine and has taken action in order to be a frontrunner in this segment. HWD’s subdivision, Just Add Wine now encompasses a range of labels called ‘Brand X’, created with Generations X and Y in mind.

“I believe that the rise in cleanskin sales are almost a consumer reaction to an over-branded and saturated wine market,” she said. “The proliferation of cleanskin specialist stores popping up in the eastern states prompted us to keep up with the times in the industry and create cleanskin labels that are one step up from an unlabelled bottle, but one step down from a branded wine.”

As the wine industry overall is squeezed down on price, Brand X labels offer a cost-effective means of producing digital labels that do not include foil or other embellishment.

“An evolvement of the cleanskin stores will be a range of labels that reflect the region and the variety, without providing any of the extra information that appeals to the younger and non-brand follower type of wine consumer.

“For these people, wine is not about an animal or a wine brand.”

Barbara said that working closely with the industry and clients provided lots of close-at-hand information for this newly identified cleanskin-preferring market.



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