The Korea Wine Challenge winners have been announced but what does it mean for Korea?
700 wines were blind tasted this year with five trophies and gold, silver, bronze medals awarded. So what does this say about the market and does it reflect the ‘Korean palate’?
There are at least 400 companies importing wine in Korea and 150 of these can be considered to be actively distributing wine rather than being Korean company chairman’s personal wine import company. (Exact numbers are hard to verify as Korean tax office issues one licence type for alcohol importers and does not issue data on which of these companies import wine each year.)
There are 10,000 wine labels in Korea and thanks to free trade agreements with the EU and more recently the US, new labels are arriving every day. This means less than 10% of the wines in Korea are entered into the competition.
So why do wine importers enter the competition? Competing for a consumers won is most fierce in the 20,000-50,000KRW retail price range ($17-43 USD). In the cluttered world of supermarket and department stores, award stickers and point-of-sale signage more often than not do make a difference in sales volumes. But given that department stores and supermarket contract with only the five largest importers the wines entered into competition vary little from year to year.
But isn’t this what wine competitions are all about? Providing some guidance on what’s good to drink and what to avoid? Certainly, but isn’t any wine contest that advertises itself as an international competition worth it’s salt?
In Korea we currently have wines availiable in wine shops from Moldova, Kazakhstan, India, Japan, and Lebanon. (I had a wonderful pinot noir from Moldova in a blind tasting last month in Seoul.) Yet none of these countries were represented.
For wine producers new to the market the competition can help launch a brand. I know of one New Zealand winery that had it’s inital order tripled after winning a trophy this year. And that is certainly good return on the competition entry fee.
Click here for a full list of awards.
By Joshua Hall