Marketing by Dan Brown

Wine marketing has to be the least imaginative in the world. It takes one of two forms: there’s the plea to authenticity. So even wines from young countries such as Australia feel that they have to have a story about how in 1834 Hector McDougall arrived from Paisley and planted some grapes etc etc etc. Or there’s the lifestyle one which you see on the rare moments when wine makes it on telly: it’s all Pinot Grigio, chatty but sophisticated women, big sofas and a little Simply Red to get the party started. Compared with other alcoholic drinks, beer sold through humour, gin sold through culture (Hendricks) and whisky sold through national identity, wine is lagging behind.

That was why I was delighted to receive information from a new wine that is being launched over here called Apothic as it seems that Dan Brown was involved with their marketing campaign. Here’s an exert from their press release:

“Named after a mysterious place, Apotheca, where vintners stored their most coveted concoctions in 13th century Europe. . . ”

The fiction angle is continued on the bottle which looks like the cover of an upmarket horror writer, John Connolly perhaps. And, most audaciously, this angle is continued in the bottle because the contents actually have nothing to do with medieval vintners. The wine isn’t even from Europe, it’s Californian.

And the wine itself? Well I don’t think it’s really aimed at me. It’s a smooth, sweet red without any of the tannin or bitterness that red wine lovers learn to love. Basically it’s a red wine for people who wouldn’t normally drink red wine. Top wine writer Jamie Goode sums up its qualities rather well here.

Let’s hope that Apothic encourages wine marketing people to come up with something a bit more interesting in future. If Apothic can be inspired by Dan Brown, why don’t Tio Pepe do something with PG Wodehouse or KWV with Wilbur Smith?

Apothic Winemaker’s Blend 2011 soon to be ubiquitous for around £9 a bottle. 

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About Henry

Henry Jeffreys was born in London. He has worked in the wine trade, publishing and is now a freelance journalist. He specialises in drink and his work has appeared in the Spectator, the Guardian, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Oldie and Food & Wine magazine. He was a contributor to the Breakfast Bible (Bloomsbury 2013) and his book Empire of Booze: British History through the Bottom of a Glass was published in November 2016.
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6 Responses to Marketing by Dan Brown

  1. A very fair and sensible post. Predictably perhaps, as someone who’s a fan of neither Dan Brown nor Apothic, I have no problem with this concept or the marketing. As you say, it’s for people who haven’t acquired – and may never acquire – a taste for “real wine” and are none the worse for that. It’s Nessum Dorma sung by Madonna. Robert de Niro in Meet the Fockers…

  2. Worm says:

    …or Irvine Welsh on Buckfast Tonic Wine…

  3. Emma says:

    Actually, the most interesting thing about this is the price point. £9? That’s pretty ambitious. Combined with the packaging, it’s nice to see someone aiming a bit higher than the lowest common denominator CA / Oz wines. I’ve not met many wine drinkers who started on tannic reds (and even fewer on classic Italians), so there’s probably a good place for it in the market, from which people will hopefully migrate to more traditional styles. Hopefully.

    NB: I find that English red wines based on Rondo or Dornfelder are easiest to sell to the “I don’t like red wine” brigade for exactly the same reason – they’re more about fruit and lack of tannins than standard red wine.

  4. Henry says:

    Actually it’s £9.99. I didn’t read the press release. It’s a lot of money for a non-red wine drinker to spend on a bottle. Still it certainly tastes luxurious. My choice for red wine for beginners is NZ pinot noir or Fleurie, Fleurie when it’s good is almost indecently silky.

  5. Simon says:

    £9.99, but priced to discount, inevitably: it’s £7 at Tesco until tomorrow and currently £7.98 at Asda. I love the bottle design, but at the risk of sounding like the most awful snob, which I’m really not I promise, I’m not remotely interested in putting what’s inside into my mouth.

  6. Ewan Murray says:

    Apothic? As in apothecary, or pharmacist? So artificially chemical, really. I’m not a natural wine aficionado, but neither am I for wines designed for a specific market or taste profile. Good marketing, as Robert says, for non-red-wine-drinkers, and good luck to them. But I’m with Mr Burnton – there’s too much proper stuff out there. And don’t get me started on the mendacious RRP …

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