Belgium a Split Nation When it Comes to Wine Drinking

Belgium wine lovers in the Priorat

Manu Meyers owner of Wijnhuis Merchx based in Muizen and Herent, Belgium along with 30 or so international wine importersfrom around the world will be descending upon Catalunya for the very first edition of the Workshop Buyer meets Catalonian Cellarfrom 10 – 12 November 2010 to meet boutique producers of wines from Catalunya.

What follows are a few brief questions we posed to Wesley regarding brand awareness of wines from Catalunya . Enjoy and be enlightened!!

1) As the name of the Workshop implies, the venue for the Workshop is in Catalunya. Had you already heard of Catalunya and do you have any previous experiences working with wines from the region?

The region Catalunya is well known in Belgium, especially because of Barcelona. We have no experience with wines from Catalunya, except for Cava.  For your information, we are mainly importing wines from France and Italy. From Spain we only work with one bodega in Alicante.  Therefore this workshop is an ideal way to know the wines from Catalunya.

 2) As a wine importer based in Belgium, what could you tell us about wine and consumption preferences in your area?

Although Belgium is a small country, there are two different regions in Belgium, the northern part (flemish speaking) and the southern part ( french speaking). This is also the case for the wine consumption. Generally the Belgians like red wine.  In the northern part the consumption of red and white is equal.  In the southern part rosé wines are more popular. Country of origin is also different between North and South. France is still the number one, but in the northern part of Belgium, France is loosing market share very rapidly to Italy and Spain in particular, but also to Chile, South-Africa etc.

In the southern part it still is France who is leading the market, and in particular Bordeaux and Bourgogne.

Another fact is that the consumer is looking for wines that can be drunk very young, they don’t want to wait for several years, before a wine can be consumed. So we need fresh and fruity wines, that can be drunk very easily.

For daily use, the consumer is willing to pay between 3 – 6 euros for a bottle.  Wines between 8 – 12 euros must reflect something special.  Wines above 15 euros are only sold for special occasions.  In this case the consumer goes back to the traditional wines ( St Emillion, Pomerol, Margaux) or Brunello, Barolo etc.  In this price range it is very difficult to sell Spanish wines.

I would suggest that the Catalunian wines must position themselves in the range of 5 – 12 euros.

3) How much do you think your customers know about wines from Catalunya?

3.  Our customers will not know very much of wines from Catalunya.  This is mainly, because we are still specialised in Italian and French wines.  As we want to attract new customers, we started last year with importing Spanish wines from Alicante, and we now want to add wines from Catalunya.

4) What activities or services do you combine with wine importing. How do you find these activities help you?

 As a service to restaurants and bars, we also distribute a wide range of alcohols, such as whisky, rum, tequila, cognac etc.

5) What kind of wine styles/types would you hope to find in the upcoming Workshop Buyer meets Catalonian Cellar? 

As I explained earlier, we will be looking for wines, that can be drunk rather quickly, easy to drink and with a good relation between quality and price. We also want to work together with a winery, that is passionated about their products, wines that are not available in the supermarkets.

We only want to work with wineries for a longer period of time.  We want to build up a relationship with our suppliers.  It is not our intention to have a one time shot.  If we make a selection, it has to be for a period of 3 to 5 years, otherwise we are not interested.

Workshop Buyer meets Catalonian Cellar in collaboration with CataVins, Fira de Sabadell 10 – 12 November 2010