Tag Archives: Yellow Tail

Winebits 499: Rose’s popularity, Yellow Tail, Texas wine

No need to put this on Instagram. We’re not drinking rose.

This week’s wine news: Instagram made rose popular – who knew? Plus Yellow Tails’ profitability and a Texas wine overview

Hipster rose foolishness: The reason for rose’s surge in popularity? It’s not quality or price or improved availability. It’s Instagram, the social media network that is popular among young people. The Wine Curmudgeon does not dispute the power of social media, but I will point out one thing that the woman who wrote this post apparently didn’t know. The people who buy the most wine in the U.S. are older than 40 or so. Nine out of 10 Instagram users are younger than 35. That’s a contradiction that needs to be explained. Until then, I will settle for quality and and price.

Yellow Tail profitability: Want to know how the family that owns the Australian Yellow Tail brand makes so much money selling cheap wine? David Morrison has one answer on his Wine Gourd blog: Look at the exchange rate between the U.S. and Australian dollars. Every one penny movement in the currency equated to around $A2 million in higher sales revenue for Yellow Tail. Hence, a weak Aussie dollar means more money for the Casella family. That Yellow Tail and Barefoot can make money – lots of money – selling $6 wine in the age of premiumization speaks volumes about how well they understand the wine business and how well so many of their competitors don’t.

Spot on on Texas: The Wine Curmudgeon regularly laments the poor coverage regional wine gets from the Winestream Media, as well as from the non-wine press. But that’s not the case this time, with a well done piece from Courtney Schiessl on Vinepair. Other than the very tired “things are bigger in Texas” opening (where was an editor?), she gets Texas right – what has happened here, what is happening, and what we need to continue to do to improve quality. That’s not always easy for someone not familiar with a region to do, but good to see when it happens.

private label wine

When you know way too much about cheap wine

cheap wineBring on the cheap wine; who else but the WC can identify it blind in a competition?

Is it possible to know too much about cheap wine? That’s what happened to the Wine Curmudgeon during last month’s judging in the TexSom International Wine Awards.

We did a blind tasting of a sauvignon blanc in a category called “Multiple countries, all other white varieties,” which is about as odd and unusual a category as possible. But I thought I knew what the wine was, since it’s my fate to know more about cheap wine than almost anyone else in the world.

“That must be the Yellow Tail sauvignon blanc,” I said. “They blend New Zealand sauvignon blanc with sauvignon blanc from Australia. It wasn’t bad the last time I had it.”

The other three judges, each of whom was incredibly accomplished and who I liked and enjoyed tasting with, looked at me as if I was babbling baby gibberish. And why not? Yellow Tail is probably not something they drink regularly, and there is no reason why they should. And they probably didn’t expect to be judging with someone who could identify cheap wine the same way they can recognize a bottle of high-end cabernet sauvignon from California’s Santa Cruz Mountains (which they did during our judging).

So when the competition results were announced last week, the sauvignon blanc in the “Multiple countries, all other white varieties” category was, in fact, the Yellow Tail (which got a bronze medal). How many people in the world who don’t work for Yellow Tail would have been able to identify the wine just from the category?

I will leave it for you to decide if that’s a good or a bad thing.

The horror, the horror: Return of the Yellow Tail TV ad

Yellow Tail TV adBrace yourself: Yellow Tail says its Super Bowl ad worked so well that it’s going to make $40 million more of them

Who needs movies with an alien jumping out of someone’s chest? Or a lunatic running around with a chainsaw? We’re going to have more Yellow Tail TV ads.

The horror, the horror!”

The Aussie wine company, whose $7 label is the best-selling import in the U.S., was so excited about the success of its Super Bowl TV ad, reports the Wine Spectator, that the company plans “to pursue a three-year campaign (estimated to cost more than $40 million) centered on TV spots. It’s an unusual venue for promoting wine.”

No kidding, especially since the ad – to put it nicely – was terrible (and you’ll have to click the link to see the ad, since I’m not linking to it again). It caused a furor in its native Australia, eliciting comments like “it humiliated my country,” while the humor that was supposed to be its selling point was about as funny as a Dostoevsky novel. “Pet my roo?” indeed.

But an official for Yellow Tail’s U.S. distributor said the ad boosted sales and social media impressions, so they’re ready to spend the equivalent of 476,190 cases of Yellow Tail for the next round of TV.

Perhaps. But the Wine Curmudgeon should note two things, as part of my campaign to rescue TV wine advertising from its decades-long misery. First, increasing Yellow Tail sales 19 percent by volume and 13 percent by dollars in the ad’s aftermath doesn’t necessarily mean the ad did any good; it could just as easily reflect steep discounting by retailers to move wine that they bought in anticipation of the ad. Second, that the ad generated social media buzz may not be a good thing, since I have a feeling many of the tweets were like this one:

Please, Yellow Trail, change your mind. The wine world has enough problems as it is without any more roo petting.

The fifth Super Bowl wine post

super bowl wineCan Yellow Tail pull off a Super Bowl wine ad winner?

This year’s Super Bowl wine post combines two of my least favorite things – the Super Bowl and TV wine advertising. Because Australia’s Yellow Tail, the best-selling import in the U.S., is advertising during the game on Sunday.

Which fits neatly into this almost annual post, which started when I discovered that Super Bowl Sunday was the worst day of the year for blog visitors, even worse than Christmas. I don’t know why this is, and I don’t want to think what it says about Americans, pro football, and how we celebrate Christmas.

Know that I haven’t watched the game since 1986, which was more or less the last time I got paid to watch it. Know, too, that I have tried desperately to raise the quality of TV wine commercials over the blog’s history, and to little avail. Rose and local wine were easy, compared to TV wine ads. For the most part, they’re still as awful as they’ve ever been – not very creative or clever while reinforcing every annoying wine stereotype.

Hopefully, the Yellow Tail ad will be different. For one thing, the company went to a lot of trouble to advertise, piecing together time in 70 local markets because it couldn’t buy a national ad; a beer company bought those rights for all booze ads for the game. Second, it is spending what the normally authoritative Ad Age reports as more than $5 million for a 30-second spot – the equivalent of some 60,000 cases of Yellow Tail.

But I don’t have high hopes. The company’s last TV ad was – to put it politely – a dud, and this quote, from Yellow Tail’s U.S. importer, doesn’t make the Super Bowl ad sound much better.

“And we think that if we bring the message that wine can be fun and that wine can be present in all of these occasions where you celebrate, we think we can make a big impact.”

Because that approach sounds a lot like this 1970s ad, which was also someone’s idea of fun.

More Super Bowl wine posts:
Once more into the Super Bowl breach
Why the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t like the Super Bowl

Winebits 312: Sales trends edition

? YellowTail growth resumes: Remember all those stories about how the strong Australian dollar and YellowTail’s financial problems were going to mean the end of an era for Aussie wine? Not true, apparently. The biggest imported brand in the U.S. expects 2 1/2 percent gorwth this year, reaching almost 9 million cases. Driving that growth are the brand’s two sweet red labels, including a sangria. That YellowTail has rebounded from its problems says much about its marketing skill, but also speaks about its clout with retailers. How many other brands could have slumped the way YellowTail did, but not lose shelf space and even added space for two more wines? In this respect, Big Wine is becoming more and more like other consumer goods, be they ketchup or detergent, with all the means — good and bad — for the consumer.

? Is craft beer headed for a bust? This matters to wine not only because craft beer competes for drinkers with wine, especially in the younger demographics, but because the growth in craft beer (“But even such a healthy rise in consumer demand won’t be enough to sustain the many new breweries jumping into the marketplace“) has similarities to what happened in California with “boutique” wineries heading into the recession and with the unprecedented growth in moscato and sweet red over the past couple of years. What’s interesting is that someone in craft beer has noticed what ?s going on, while almost everyone in wine was in denial before the recession and during the moscato and sweet red boom.

? If you can sell wine on-line. ..: You can sell a lot of it. That was the experience of the British supermarket chain Tesco, which doesn’t face the three-tier restrictions that U.S. retailers face in this country. The story, on the drinks business trade magazine site, says sales may have gone up as much as 51 percent over the same period last year, and offers all the reasons why that is so. Contrast this with Amazon’s wine marketplace, which after nine months still can’t sell wine in all 50 states.

One billion bottles of Yellow Tail

yt.jpegOr more than 10 billion glasses, if you’d prefer.

Despite everything — the jeers from critics, the blame for sinking the Australian wine industry, its role as one of the first livestock wines — Yellow Tail has thrived. How about these numbers?

The company, despite its struggles with the pricey Aussie dollar, recorded its best year ever in fiscal 2013, with sales by quantity increasing 8 per cent. Meanwhile, some 11 1/2 million cases a year are sold in the U.S., making it the most popular foreign wine in the country. That’s impressive to begin with, and even more so for a brand that didn’t exist before the beginning of the 21st century.

In all of this, Yellow Tail helped change the way Americans drink wine, as important as Two-buck Chuck and the arrival of the multi-national wine companies. If nothing else, it was one of the first of the international style wines, fruity and easy to drink, and it was cheap.

Yellow Tail boss John Casella makes no apologies for this. I’ve met him twice, and each time I was part of a group made up of wine types much more highfalutin‘ than the Wine Curmudgeon. Casella just stared them down, politely, and his refrain was the same: “If consumers want a simple, fruity wine at a fair price, what’s wrong with giving it to them?”

Nothing, of course, which is why his company has produced 1 billion bottles. I’m not a Yellow Tail fan, and only one of the wines has been reviewed here in almost eight years. They are too fruity and too simple; I prefer wines that are more interesting, and there are many at the same price.

But lots of people don’t like those wines, or can’t find them, or even know they exist. And this has helped Casella build what may be the most successful wine company in Australia. That’s the thing to keep in mind when you read the other pieces about Yellow Tail’s milestone, articles that will almost certainly focus on the stuff in the second paragraph of this one. Yellow Tail’s success makes the company so easy to dislike that too many of us lose sight of why it is successful — and what that means for wine.