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Is it time to take a fresh look at Bordeaux?

The Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) has launched a new marketing campaign to show the modern face of this historic wine region, reports Louis Thomas.

Titled Join the Bordeaux Crew, the campaign, which will be properly unveiled at upcoming trade fairs, will consist of digital activity in the major markets of France, the US, Belgium, and the UK this year. In the UK, the campaign will take a prominent role at The Big Feastival, Blur bassist Alex James’ food and drink summer festival. It will then be rolled out to China and Japan in 2025.

Consisting of photographs of the figures involved in Bordeaux wine, from winemakers to merchants, restaurateurs to wine shop managers, the notion of “community” is at the core of the campaign.

CIVB marketing manager Caroline Vigneron told the drinks business: “Join the Bordeaux Crew puts our people and our commitment to them front and centre,” she continued. “Indeed, winegrowers and merchants have worked closely with creative experts to ensure that the campaign truly reflects their identity: a group of people with character and determination, driving innovation, all united around a collective commitment to sustainable viticulture.”

Vigneron revealed that the campaign is partially about helping Bordeaux’s wine industry attract workers, a problem not unique to the region: “As a whole, the Bordeaux wine sector provides 60,000 direct and indirect jobs and we are committed to supporting the industry through its highs and lows. This new campaign echoes the Bordeaux Cultivons Demain initiative launched in 2021 and is dedicated to making the sector more attractive for workers through integration, job creation, health and safety and more, ensuring the livelihood of the region with local jobs, solidarity, preserving the environment and opening dialogues to ensure fairness and transparency at all levels.”

Image problem

Bordeaux has arguably suffered from being seen as un-trendy, old hat even, by younger generations of consumers and members of the trade. But Vigneron suggested that this reputation for stuffiness is unfair.

“We are aware that people still perceive Bordeaux wine as ‘serious’,” Vigneron shared, “and that many of our consumers are older and tend to drink Bordeaux for special occasions, and this is exactly what needs to change.”

“Bordeaux has a wine for everyone,” she argued, “from Millennials and Gen-Zs to Baby-boomers, whatever the budget or occasion. Our region offers so much more than powerful reds. We are the original home of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. We make deliciously refreshing white and rosé wines, light and fruit-forward wines made to enjoyed young, clairet, sweet wines and even sparkling.

“Also, more than three quarters of our vineyard area boasts an environmental certification. With our campaign’s eye-catching creatives and call to action, we want to show the world that we have evolved, using our differences to meet the requirements of the world today.”

Beyond refreshing the image that some consumers may have of Bordeaux wines, Join the Bordeaux Crew seeks to show that the region is not pale, male and stale, with the marketing materials for it emphasising that the “crew” consists of both men and women.

“Like many wine regions around the world, Bordeaux was predominantly male-dominated for many years,” Vigneron explained.

“However, this isn’t the case anymore. We have many women working in Bordeaux’s wine industry, in roles ranging from driving tractors in the vineyards and blending in the wineries to production, sales and marketing. This is hugely important to us and the sector actively encourages equal opportunities.”

“The purpose of our campaign is to show that we are diverse and inclusive, sharing one voice and all coming together to achieve a common goal – to show that Bordeaux wines are for everyone.”

For Vigneron, Bordeaux’s wine community “transcends borders, generations and social categories”.

“We have more than 5,300 winemakers, but in recent years as we faced the challenges of climate change and then Covid, we have become even more united,” she said.

“Our winemakers come from all walks of life – some are third or fourth generation, others are new to wine, some are from famous, well-established families, others are young, we have collectives. We may all have unique stories to tell about our backgrounds, our wines and our forward-looking vision, but we share the same expertise and the same tradition of Bordeaux wine.”

But Bordeaux’s wine industry is also facing an existential threat when it comes to the environment. Vigneron explained: “Winegrowers are adapting and evolving to be able to work efficiently and responsibly within the new climate conditions we are facing. Today, more than 75% of the Bordeaux vineyard area has a certified environmental approach and 25% is organic or in conversion to organic viticulture.”

the drinks business recently discovered how producers in Saint-Emilion are dealing with the climatic crisis, and the hazards that come with it.

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