Lessons learned at the Adegga Wine Market 2011 (#AWM2011)

On the first of December I attended the Adegga Wine Market (#AWM2011 on twitter) in Lisbon. The Wine Market is a project of Adegga, Portugal’s largest wine review site. It started out rather small 3 years ago when the Adegga team (Andre Ribeirinho, Emidio Santos, Andre Cid) contacted 13 premium Portuguese wineries and invited them to show and sell their wines to Adegga members. Last year the Adegga team added another 10 wineries, and this year they added the concept of the Premium Room and invited 35 wineries. It is a fact that the Wine Market has proven to be a very successful concept, growing from about 150 visitors the first year to around 900 this year. Visitors paid to visit the tasting (€ 7.50) and if they wanted to visit the Premium Room they had to put down another € 20 Euro’s. Whilst this may seem logical for a lot of us wine lovers – I would like to stress that this event was organised in Portugal – where the average bottle of wine retails for around € 3 – so € 7.50 to attend a tasting requires a certain commitment and believe of the consumer that the tasting really IS value for money. And obviously a lot of people shared this believe :-)

Adegga card system to help consumer remember the wines they tasted - Picture ©Adegga - Ricardo Bernardo

The wine market used a very easy card system with 3 categories: Tasted, favourite, to buy. All the wineries had stickers for the wines they had to taste and the consumers could ask for a sticker to add to their card. Once they had completed the tasting they could hand in the card and purchase the bottles they wanted to buy. This simple system really proved to be effective as a few thousand bottles of wine were purchased directly at the event. This is quite impressive especially as the average sales price was € 15/bottle.

It is a common fact that the best way to sell a wine is to have the consumer taste it. Add to that the simplistic card system and all at once the price becomes a lot less important… The statistics above show that the average Wine Market visitor is easily convinced to trade up when he/she likes the wine.

Learning and asking questions about the wines tasted at the Adegga Wine Market - Picture ©Adegga - Ricardo Bernardo

The wineries gain as they have direct access to the consumers, they can answer their questions directly, and have the ability to show off their more expensive wines and get just about the full retail price for the stock that is sold at the event.
Whilst it generally is not advisable to sell directly in your distributor’s territory I do feel that this event is different… First of all it is a one off and can in a way be compared to a winery visit… Consumers get the full winery attention, buy there and then, and because they now understand and know the winery’s story they will look for these wines again through the general distribution channels. In this way I believe that the exposure and the opportunity to hand-sell their wines at the Wine Market will convert into sales during the rest of the year as well. Remember the consumer gets to keep the card and even if he did not buy at the event, he probably will purchase the wines he liked at a later stage, in the same way as he will be likely to re-purchase the wines he did buy at the Wine Market.

The busy ground floor at the Adegga Wine Market - Picture ©Adegga - Ricardo Bernardo

I also feel that the Portuguese wine industry as a whole benefits from the event, as the overall focus really lies on the more premium wines… As mentioned earlier, the event encourages the consumer to experiment and trade up – hence investing in the quality wines produced in their country and becoming an ambassador for them. This year there also were a small number of influential international bloggers invited, and I was very happy to be one of them, which ensured international coverage of the event, but more importantly had several messages go out on all major social media sites of the outstanding quality of the wines tasted.*

A personal lesson I take away as a sommelier is that the Portugal Premium Wine Industry is a lot more than just the excellent ports… I was astonished by the high quality/price ratio of the wines that I tasted and will look to add more Portuguese wines on the lists I put together… I also learned a great deal by having the opportunity of tasting so many indigenousness Portuguese varieties – Loureiro, Encruzado, Bical, Maria Gomes, Espadeiro, Tinta Franca, Tinta Roriz, Alicante Buchet and Trincadeiro – just to name a few… It is one thing to learn about them out of a text book but it is only by tasting that I feel that one really can understand and appreciate this rich wine culture…

A small; selection of the super wines poured at the Premium Room

I would like to end this article by writing a little about the Premium room – which was a new concept this year. This room showed off some real Portuguese wine gems. Unfortunately I never got to taste the red wines as the room was so very busy, but the Ports shown were really out of this world! Both Luiz* and Onne* wrote excellent reviews of the fabulous rare wines which were on show. The Premium Room encompasses for me the most important lesson I learned at the Wine Market 2011: that there is a wealth of excellent Portuguese wine around, which age beautifully and can easily compare with some of the great French wines in taste, complexity and exquisity. However these wines were made available to the general public for a relatively small fee, which is something which is unheard of in France. Furthermore some of these gems are still for sale and are actually affordable and priced maximum at 1/3 of their French counterparts:-)

* I decided to focus on the more commercial/marketing benefits of the Adegga Wine Market, however my international colleagues did write up some of the excellent wines we tasted – please check their notes out:

    Just a few of the wines that really impressed me here below in no particular order

  • Quinta dos Carvalhais Sparkling Rose
  • Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Douro 2010
  • Quinta dos Carvalhais 2009 Encruzado
  • Aveleda Grande Follies 2009
  • Horta de Gonçalpares Soc. Agrícola Lda -Raya 2008
  • Herdade de Peso Icone 2007
  • Donna Ferreira Port 1863
  • Graham’s 1970 Vintage Port

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at http://www.tastingswithatwist.wordpress.com as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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