Rod Phillips is a wine writer , author and judge , based in Ottawa , Canada. He writes on the wine on the main newspaper of Ottawa , and other Canadian adn British Wines Magazine. He is judge in one of the most important wine competitions in Canada , and has also judged competitions in Italy, France , Chile and New Zealand
What is your perception of opportunity’ for the Italian wine in the Canadian market, especially in Ontario and Quebec ?
Italian wine has a long history on the Ontario and Quebec markets, from entry-level to ultra-premium wines. There is now fierce competition at all levels, with many less expensive wines from New World regions, and wider range of premium-and-higher wines from many countries. There is opportunity for Italian wines, as for wines from anywhere else, but for the last few years consumers have been looking for value. This doesn’t mean inexpensive, but it means value at all price-points. Producers need to stress not only quality, but that consumers are getting their money’s-worth when they buy wine.
What are in your opinion the actions that should do the Italian wineries to improve the performances in terms of sales and positioning in the Ontario and Quebec market ?
Following my answer to Question (1), Italian producers need to convince consumers of quality and value. This means telling good stories about their wines. It’s not enough to talk about “place” and “terroir,” because everyone does that, and I get a sense that people are tired of being told that the vines grow in this or that soil. Better, I think, to talk about geography and landscapes, the history of the peoples, about the region and its food — to give wines a cultural depth. At another level, engaged consumers like to see winemakers and winery principals on the ground. Regions like California, New Zealand, Chile, Germany, and Australia mount wine fairs regularly in Canadian cities, and participate in wine festivals. Italy is largely absent as a country, although some individual producers participate. It’s also my sense that fewer Canadian journalists are invited to Italy these days, and that means less exposure of Italy in the wine and other media.
What are the main mistakes that Italian wineries are doing in these markets?
I don’t think there are mistakes, as such, but some missed opportunities, along the lines of what I noted in Question
Do you think that the Made in Italy is an added value for these markets compared to the other wine producing countries?
I think Italy is definitely a positive brand in wine, far better than many others, but no more so than countries like France and New Zealand.
What are the Italian wine territories that you believe have greater potential to develop today and in the future?
Some regions, such as Tuscany and Piedmont, are well established, as are some styles, such as Chianti, Barolo, Amarone and the “super-Tuscans”. They represent the bulk of premium (and higher level) wines in Ontario and Quebec. IGT/IGP wines are popular, but few consumers pay attention to region. Regions becoming more familiar to consumers include Puglia and Sicilia. From my perspective, the regions that have a lot of potential on our markets are Marche, Puglia, Umbria, Sicilia, and Trentino-Alto Adige.