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The Drinks Business Asian Awards 2020: The Winners

Best Launch (Wine, Spirits and Beer)

Winner: Treasury Wine Estates

This year’s winner is Treasury Wine Estates for the launch of Penfolds Lot. 518, a unique blend of Australian Shiraz infused with Chinese Baijiu. Pioneering a new category, a fusion of East meets West, wine and Baijiu, Penfolds Lot. 518 is an innovative creation in the world of wine.

The new product’s PR strategy was based on consumer insight analysis, such as media consumption and preferences for media content, in order to target and engage the right audience.

The highlight of the campaign was the launch event held in Beijing. The brand threw a party for 400 people, together with Penfolds brand celebrity ambassador Duan Yi-Hong and other celebrities, to celebrate the exciting launch.

The event generated a total of 258 press clippings with 334 million media impressions. The post-launch momentum sustained the results with different media angles focused on the product concept, gifting and drinking rituals. In the two months after the launch, TWE secured a further 47 clippings and more than 32 million media impressions.

Best Social Media Campaign

Winner: Viña Concha y Toro 

The “Battle of the Chefs – by Marques de Casa Concha campaign” was an integrated consumer campaign which took place across China, with a grand finale in Shanghai.

Chefs from 18 restaurants across Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen were invited to create two special dishes that could be paired with red and white wine from the Marques de Casa Concha range.

Within a month, consumers visited the restaurants and rated their favourite dishes on a dedicated campaign mini-site. The top five consumer-rated chefs and their dishes were then promoted to the final competition in Shanghai where they competed against each other by demonstrating their culinary skills to the judging panel and 40 media and influencers.

Yang Zhansheng from The Home Beijing won the competition and was awarded a trip to Chile. On top of learning about the local terroir, he also prepared three pairing menus in the winery for 12 key on-trade restaurant chefs, media and the Marques de Casa Concha winemaker.

In all, the campaign generated over 8.8m impressions and over 3,000 consumers placed ratings on the mini-site. The campaign illustrated how a wine brand can engage end consumers through digital media and convert that engagement to offline experience with the support from on-trade partners.

Best Drinks Event

Winner: The Fine Wine Experience

The Fine Wine Experience hosted a mesmerising wine dinner in Arbor in October 2018 that took guests back to the 19th century.

Fifteen wines, spanning 1830 to 1898, comprised the line up for the dinner. These included red and white Burgundies direct from the cellars of Bouchard Père et Fils back to 1846 (the oldest wine at the domaine), 1865 Château Lafite, 1874 Château Lafite, 1892 Château Latour, 1898 Blanc Vieux d’Arlay, Domaine Jean Bourdy, 1896 Château d’Yquem.

The Fine Wine Experience team had also put enormous effort into the decorations for the venue, including researching to producing 19th century wine illustrations, photographs, maps and cartoons. They had also matched the wine’s vintages to historical events. Special guest of the night was Gilles de Larouzière, president of Bouchard Pères et Fils, who flew to Hong Kong especially for the dinner.

He brought along with him priceless artefacts from the Bouchard archives, including a hand-illustrated map of the Montrachet vineyard from the beginning of the 19th century, and the diary notebooks of the vineyard manager discussing the state of the crop from vintages that were tasted, which added greatly to the immersive experience.

Priced at HK$108,000 each, the 13 tickets swiftly sold out on the same afternoon they were offered, attracting connoisseurs from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Honolulu, New York and Paris to participate.

Though small in scale, the ambition and professionalism shown in the event added greatly to the strength of Hong Kong as one of the world’s important centres of fine wine.

Best Online Retailer

Winner: Cru Asia Limited

Launched in 2014, Cru Asia endeavours to build the best digital experience for selecting, buying, storing and managing fine wine. Clients do not need to phone, or even email, to place an order, organise a delivery or do routine account management.

Instead, everything is done through the company’s desktop, mobile site and app, which also offers a market-leading suite of services covering every aspect of fine wine, from research and analysis to checkout, storage and account management.

Unlike the traditional agency or ‘wine list’ model, Cru ‘feeds’ its clients with exciting ideas for what they should buy, from the broadest possible range each day. On promotions, it always strives to have the lowest price and to offer the most price competitive rates on storage and selling commission. The company has range of over 1,100 cases of fine wines – all available for purchase by Asian clients, and which contains one of the broadest selections of old, rare and often single bottles available in Asia.

Backed by well-rounded facilities, for example, a range of over 2,000 client storage accounts in Hong Kong and Singapore and a dedicated storage facility in Bordeaux for over 100 Asian clients, Cru introduced a discount plan of up to 100% on storage fees for active Asian clients. Moreover, the company has also launched a Sustainability Plan to limit the environmental impact of fine wine retailing.

Fine Wine Retailer of the Year

Winner: The Fine Wine Experience

Moving from its 700 sq ft shop in Sheung Wan to a 7,000 sq ft space in Sai Ying Pun in January 2019, The Fine Wine Experience unveiled a brand new flagship retail space that boasts over 6,000 bottles of wine for sale.

The fine wine focus is strong, with an average retail price of HK$6,380 per bottle, and vintages back to 1865 available to browse and purchase in the modern, minimalist designed showroom. The new shop features a main retail space, a dedicated two-level rare wine and large formats room, and a separate magnums-only room.

Half of the space is also devoted to fine wine education and events, where it can host masterclasses for up to 80 participants. Moreover, there is a restaurant and two private karaoke rooms in the new shop to create a truly immersive fine wine experience.

The company also values staff training. In 2018 and 2019, two employees achieved their WSET level 4 Diplomas, and one of them is currently pursuing the MW programme.

The opening of the flagship store in 2019 was also made possible by phenomenal year-on-year growth at The Fine Wine Experience – 11% in 2016, 18% in 2017, and 24% in 2018. This growth has occurred hand in hand with the expansion of its curated fine wine events programme, rising from 41 events in 2017, to 59 in 2018.

The fine wine agency business has also grown. With a focus on Burgundy, the portfolio of domaines has grown from 13 in 2017, to 27 in 2018 to 40 to date in 2019. Working to understand the fine wine needs of Hong Kong’s leading hotels and restaurants, turnover in fine wine sales to the on-trade increased by 30% in 2017, a further 53% in 2018 and 45% year-over-year in 2019.

2018 also saw the opening of the company’s Beijing office, and delivery of the first agency fine wines to the mainland China market from Burgundy, Champagne and the Mosel.

Influencer of the Year

Winner: Chris Thompson

As the Rothschild Estates Ambassador for Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos) for over six years, Chris Thompson manages a network of six key distributors throughout the region to grow the premium brands by working with five-star hotels and finest restaurants. Thompson has a second role as editor-at-large of Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, where he focuses on delivering interesting stories and introducing personalities both local and international with interview features.

Thompson employs his expertise in wine and food and has created engaging content for the magazine while promoting the F&B industry of the region. For example, he raised the profile of mixology and restaurants with the curation of the Mixologist and Chef of the Year categories at the Harper’s Bazaar Star Awards 2019, created consumer wine dinners with compelling themes, and he was the representative for Vietnam on the Board of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019.

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