It was a dinner at Toscano, the buzzy restaurant and wine bar in UB City, Bangalore, to meet global brand ambassador Steve Meckiff, Pernod Ricard’s Premium Wine Brands, and vintrepreneur (his own description). He is on a whirlwind tour of India, and if he is exhausted by the sheer pace, he doesn’t look it. Why should he, he says, his is a dream job – that of telling the brand story of Jacob’s Creek to new markets around the world, understanding market needs and getting consumer feedback.( In fact, his Twitter handle is @hashtagDREAMJOB.)
To add to the general excitement is the launch of the Jacob’s Creek single pour 187ml bottles in India – another factor that shows the company has understood the Indian market well. This allows the wines to stay fresh when opened by the consumer – no more wondering if the wine you are being poured is from a bottle opened days ago.
So what then does he attribute the success of Jacob’s Creek in India? The wine, currently the top-selling imported brand in the country, and its sales stand out in a market (necessarily) full of value wines. “Jacob’s Creek is known for its consistency wherever in the world you might drink it,” he says, adding that the brand focuses on quality grapes, good packaging and an end product which delivers on value. “Our wine team has over 500 vintages worth of experience amongst them all.”
That, and the fact that the very quick turnover of the wine along with the fact that Pernod Ricard handles its own distribution, means that they control quality and freshness until it reaches the end consumer.
So what are Steve’s impressions about the Indian consumer on his trip? “India has a wow factor to it, there is no doubt,” he says, “People here are intrigued about wine, and wine drinking is growing at a fast rate. In Delhi, I was amazed at the incredible knowledge and trained palates I encountered at my masterclass. People here are very passionate about wine, and they are enjoying their wine journey.”
Pernod Ricard’s re-branded Brancott Estate New Zealand wines – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Reserves, are also at the top of the list for him, in value and quality. “Brancott is currently number two in New Zealand and we have a state-of-the-art facility there. It’s all sustainable viticulture, and we keep rigorous checks on our fruit.”
Steve is also blown away at the enthusiasm he encountered at the Bangalore masterclass he conducted for hotel and restaurant staff. “We expected a few, but there were 120 who finally turned up – they were even sharing chairs! At the end I got a standing ovation. That’s not something I’ve seen often.”
A wine tip from Steve on serving temperatures, a pet topic: “Always chill your reds somewhat, as it is easier to warm a wine up than to cool it. This enhances the enjoyment of the wine with food. Serve at 10-12 degrees for white wines, and about 15 degrees for reds.”
At the end, what makes Jacob’s Creek a winner on the sales front is its commitment to quality, he believes. “It has earned its success. It’s not a brand that has turned up overnight. It goes to prove that wine doesn’t have to be complicated to impress – it is there just to be enjoyed.”