With Wine, Bigger May Be Better—Or Preferable
To the latter question I’ve always answered, “Yes-sort of”. It’s the first question that takes some good reasoning.
In an interview with The Shout, Treasury Wine Estates CEO David Dearle offered one means of measuring something like quality that is at the very least interesting and even a bit convincing.
“Size matters, but it matters only because of what it enables us to do, and that is to make better, higher quality, wine. I have no doubt that, because of our size, we are able to offer consistent quality at every price point.”
For those unaware, Treasure Wine Estates is among the largest wine companies in the world. Its brands include Beringer Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean, Stags’ Leap Winery, Lindemans, Penfolds, Catello di Gabbiano and numerous others.
Dearle then goes on to make the key argument in his case for Big Means Better:
“But don’t just take my word for it, the results speak for themselves! Across our brands TWE wins more medals at the world’s leading wine shows than anyone else. In the last financial year, 21 trophies and 101 gold medals, with an overall medal/trophy success rate of 61 per cent – versus an average rate for our competitors of roughly 40 per cent.”
Assuming all these statistics are correct, and I have no reason not to, isn’t TWE’s medal/trophy success rate an important indication of something? I think it is. I think it is a clear indication that TWE’s wines are preferred by judges more often and at a higher rate in wine competitions than those wines of his competitors entered in wine competitions.
What I don’t think you can necessarily say is that TWE’s wines entered into these competitions are of a higher quality than his competitors. “Quality” is a fairly arbitrary idea when it comes to wine and certainly isn’t objectively determined, nor can it be measured. But, PREFERENCE can be measured. In fact, wine competitions are pretty good place to measure preference since, unlike the general marketplace, you don’t have marketing and label recognition to impact a measure of preference driven by sales figures.
Mr. Dearle cited these figures in support of his attempt to bust a “common wine industry myth: only small, family-owned wineries make authentic, quality wine.”
Mr. Dearle is correct in painting this a myth or at least an unfounded assumption.