The People's Voice Awards are, in effect, a popularity contest. We make no apology for that. They are not based on critics' and self-appointed consumer advocates' tasting notes, but instead based on what people buy and what people are told to buy. In this day and age, mass media, and social media in particular, are the cutting edge of marketing, advertising and brand support. Snooth's People's Voice Awards reveal not only the most popular brands, but also the brands with the largest, most engaged and most active social networks. This is particularly true at the value end of the spectrum.
Where the Details Matter
It's pretty easy to divide the marketplace into three levels, though there are of course more than that. We all have our clients who buy by price at the low end and points at the high end, so we are all fighting for the middle. That is where social media is likely to find the biggest audience and have the biggest impact.
By encouraging brands to harness their social networks and motivate their fans to vote in PVA, Snooth has created the first wine awards driven both by the consumer and social media. The results speak for themselves. We're seeing popular labels, great wines and socially savvy brands dominate the premium pricing categories ($12-$25).
It's a fascinating blend of wines and one with which you could stock a small store. I've attached some screen shots of our leaderboards for the most popular categories, take a look and see how many soon-to-be PVA finalists you currently carry, and consider which ones you should add to your inventory soon.
Premium Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is a great place to start examining the current standings. Six finalists in each category will move on to our second round of voting, which will determine the eventual winner of each People's Voice Awards category.
Here, we have mostly big brands, with the value leader Chateau Ste. Michelle out in front, no surprise. Seeing both Schug and Alexander Valley Vineyards, a personal favorite of mine, shows me that both have active and engaged consumers. Have those consumers been looking for these wines near you but found them difficult to track down?
This category also holds a few surprises mixed in with the regular suspects.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is in the running here, as well. It comes as no surprise to me as they have been producing great values throughout their entire portfolio for quite some time now. Jadot has great name recognition and has been doing the same for a different audience for sometime as well. Wente, on the other hand, has really made a move to quality recently and while their Riva Ranch Chardonnay is not my style, it is well made and people definitely seem to like its richness. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Rustenberg from South Africa. It sneaking in at sixth place is a very interesting development. What's driving it?
Premium Italian Reds
I've pulled Tuscan wines into their own category. Since they include the Italian brands with the biggest marketing budgets and widest distribution, I thought it would have created a bit of an unfair advantage for the remaining Italian nominees.
Here we have some big brands. Masi, Allegrini and Zonin all represent from the Veneto, which is a bit of a surprise since it certainly has not been the 'hot' region of Italy for sometime, even decades perhaps. Zaccagnini is a wonderful value. The bit of grapevine attached to each bottle has served as a great marketing campaign for the wine, so the wines of note here are the last two. Foradori Teroldego and Il Papavero Primitivo are wines that evidently are making their mark on U.S. consumers.
Premium Pinot Noir
Three from California, three from Oregon. This race looks like the presidential race with the country split down the middle. Here, both Belle Glos and Cline are being driven by dedicated fans as well as an enthusiastic social media push. They are both brands that continue to be forward-thinking and thus have captured their audience's attention. It's nice to see Erath competing so tightly with the leaders. I get the sense that fanatical fans are to blame. It's a wine that more retailers should be stocking since it captures the Oregon ethos quite nicely at an affordable price.
Premium Sauvignon Blanc
This is a fascinating set of wine and one that really could be a fine selection in either a restaurant or retail operation. New Zealand is leading the list with both top spots, but we have wines from Chile, South Africa and California filling in the rest of the list, making for a truly global selection. This might be a nail-biter going into the final round, but I have to say that it's one of the most interesting and competitive sets of wines on these lists. It would make for a fascinating comparative tasting and seems to show that the marketplace certainly prefers the crisper style of Sauvignon Blanc
Premium Spanish Reds
Spanish wines have become an important part of the premium market segment. Judging by the early results here, Rioja continues to be the most important player. I'm thrilled to see Bierzo sneaking in here in the fifth spot, but the consumers' familiarity with the Rioja brand is proving to be a tough hurdle for other regions to overcome. Couple that with a general idea about what to expect with Rioja and their competitive pricing and these results hardly come as a shock. Still, I would have expected a bit more regional variety here. I would love to hear from you out there, do Rioja sales continue to dominate your Spanish wine sales?
And finally there is Zin. I don't know what it is about Zin that ellicits such reactions from consumers, but when I write about Zin I almost always get a tremendous response. Though, reactions are normally along the line of my being a moron for not preferring or writing about the reader's favorite wines.
Here we have a somewhat predictable line-up, lots of solid wine here no doubt, but not a lot of smaller players. The Klinker Brick is vying for first. Zinfandel, especially single vineyard, small producer Zin, is a niche product, there is no doubt about that. This line-up is really pretty solid when you think about it, so it just might be the best place to start if you're building up your Zin list for the coming cool days of Autumn.