July being a calm season (we are just nervously watching the effects of the drought and doing rain dances in the vineyards), I thought I should turn my attention to the whos, whys, whens, hows and whats of the wine business, especially the way we communicate about wine.
This, you may think, should come easily to a wine author who finds the art of writing easy and fun. Perhaps too easily sometimes since we risk sticking in a rut and communicating in the ‘same old, same old’. A few events in the last few weeks have made me question the art of wine speak. The first was the ‘Fine Minds 4 Fine Wines’ conference that I attended, along with Steven Spurrier, in Bordeaux. This was a think tank for the great and the good of the wine trade looking into the future of the business. I was struck by the boldness and the brashness of the young Americans among the speakers, who had a completely new outlook on the wine industry. Tasting notes and scores out of 100 are ‘so yesterday’; words such as acidity, tannin, bitterness are turn offs. We should avoid too much vino babble and instead let our readers know the name of the winemaker’s dog. That is far more of a turn on.
We should be looking at the diversity that shapes the global wine world be it ethnic, gender or generation based. We need to create a place of belonging, we need to be more visual, we need to tell stories. We need to adapt our messages to the younger generation. This doesn’t mean that books published by the Académie du Vin Library are no longer relevant. On the contrary, they tell stories, they link the generations and affirm our heritage. I look at two of the most successful shows on the global scene as examples; both are firmly rooted in a narrative:
First, the American musical Hamilton which recounts the rise and fall of the most brilliant founding father. We know the story from the beginning, but it is the recounting of the story, the beautiful tapestry of character, action and emotion, that brings the facts to life. Secondly, Tomorrowland, the fantastic festival of electronic music held in Belgium each year that has become a global music sensation. Jacques and I went last Saturday and we were embraced and saluted for our presence; certainly, we were some of the few grey heads amongst a sea of beautiful, international youth! The main stage was a library, set up with books with a strong storyline running through the festival. We loved the energy; the nations united, flags held high, Israel next to Korea, Australia next to Russia, Singapore next to Argentina, but especially we loved the power of this youth.
Both these events Hamilton and Tomorrowland were made possible by today’s technology. But technology was absolutely not the story. The story was about quality and persistence, about authenticity and simplicity. A story well told that gave its readers or its listeners a sense of belonging to a community. That is the power of Tomorrowland.
by Fiona Morrison MW