Classic wine marketing

WA’s iconic white wine, Houghton’s White Burgundy, is to be renamed Houghton’s White Classic. This is necessary because of the 1994 Agreement between Australia and the European Community on Trade in Wine, and Protocol (Wine Agreement). In signing this, Australia agreed to respect French Geographic Indications (GIs) including the name Burgundy.

You wonder why they’ve chosen a generic name. “Classic” is a pretty meaningless descriptor which signifies “blend”. Wines with this name account for progressively less and less of the wine market.

You wonder why they didn’t give the wine a distinctive name to mark it as a distinguished wine.

It’s a national brand but it’s known to come from WA. I would have been inclined to trade off that. Houghton’s WA White or if you must, Houghton’s WA Classic. Promoting WA as a sub-region is sound strategy for the parent company (Constellation Brands) as they dominate this state. In other states their competitors (Foster’s, Orlando, Yalumba) are much stronger.

Or consider this option: although a blend, the wine contains a generous amount of chenin blanc and Houghton’s could have used the renaming of the product to raise the profile of this varietal. Houghton’s White Chenin. You might think this invites competition from other chenins but chenin blanc is not widely grown outside WA (apart from the Loire where it is noted for exquisite sweet styles *my mouth is watering* where was I?)

By announcing to the world that the wine is chenin-based, Houghton’s would have had a new story to take to the trade and they would immediately dominate a “new” varietal.

The name “classic” is a marketing cliché. It is used by so many indifferent quality wines it has become meaningless. The moderately well-informed consumer knows that buying a “classic” is a lottery. It does not do Houghton’s White Burgundy justice.

A final alternative, since Greg Norman has missed the opportunity, it’s still possible to call it Houghton’s Great White.


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