How a dumb idea became a marketing institution

Seemed like a dumb idea at the time – releasing Wynns new vintages on a Wednesday and calling it Wynnsday. Instead, five or six years on cynics eat crow while the trade and consumers alike buy up on something altogether more tasty .

The success of ‘Wynnsday’ demonstrates the increasing quality of Australian wines, the better capitalisation of the industry, and a growing sophistication of how producers market the product. It also marks a fundamental shift in power from the retailer to the producer, in the process strengthening the big supermarket chains at the expense of independent operators, now witnessing (most without realising it) the demise of their dominance of the fine-wine market.

The power shift occurs because in creating strong brands, producers trigger demand directly with consumers who then buy what they want wherever best suits them, assuming good distribution. And that’s where ‘Wynnsday’ as a marketing tool has become so effective.

Wynns not only captures the attention of wine drinkers, but gets the trade onside. Hence the flurry of retailer advertising on top of the corporate push.

Good marketing does this all the time. But in the past there have been few notable successes in the wine industry where so many sales have been driven by retailers discounting into a glutted market. Rationalisation at the production end is the main forces bringing about brand creation.

Of course, Wynnsday would not succeed were it only a gimmick. Exceptionally high quality underpins its popularity. The whites can be seen as cheap for the high quality delivered. They fit into mainstream styles and don’t really bear any flavour characteristics we can put down to the region. But who cares? White varieties in Coonawarra are planted largely in secondary locations, leaving the best plots to the area’s great specialties, the reds.

The shiraz and cabernet based reds are distinctive wines now making a mark globally. These are stamped with a character unique to Coonawarra. And in Michael Hermitage, John Riddoch Cabernet and the Centenary shiraz cabernet blend we see exempary reds built for long-term cellaring.

In short, these are wines demanding review, products of perhaps the greatest high-quality wine estate in the world. Southcorp Wines now owns around 1200 hectares in Coonawarra from which the Wynns wines are sourced.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Rhine Riesling 1993

Terrific medium-dry, fruity, crisp drinking often specialing at around $7.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay 1992

Very much in the mainstream Australian chardonnay mould: a rich, full-bodied dry white with ripe fruit flavours and a strong influence of oak both in the fermentation process and subsequent maturation.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Pinot Noir 1991

A pleasant pinot for current drinking and short-term cellaring. However, it’s not in the class of shiraz and cabernet from the area. I predict it will disappear from the range.

Wynns Coonwarra Estate Hermitage 1992

A very good red at the price, showing strong regional flavour. After the rich, tannic 1990, and smooth, supple 1991, the 1992 displays flavours expected of a cool vintage being leaner and more tightly structured. Great value.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Hermitage Merlot 1991

Here’s a blend that’s been looking for an identity over the years beginning as a mix of leftovers but moving in recent times to a pre-conceived style. This vintage shows more sweet fruit than the 1990 did and I rate it a better wine. A touch more richness and flesh and it’ll be a boomer.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1991

An absolutely brilliant red at the price ($13 to $15 a bottle) with rich, classic Coonawarra berry flavours. Back to text-book Coonawarra after the unusually rich and tannic 1990s.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 1991

Like the above reduced to an essence. Quite simply a great wine for long-term cellaring and now perceived as exceptional on world markets.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Michael Hermitage 1991

Another ‘essence’, of exceptional richness and power. Overwhelming now, but fifteen years plus in the cellar will see the emergence of a ‘Coonawarra first growth’.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Centenary Shiraz Cabernet Blend 1991

A magnificent blend assembled by wine maker Peter Douglas to mark the 100th anniversary of John Riddoch’s planting of vines in Coonawarra in 1891. This is an opulent, fleshy red, solidly structured for long cellaring – a unique Australian blend with Coonawarra’s distinctive flavours.

The wines were widely distributed early this month and readers should find no difficulty finding the riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir, hermitage, or cabernet hermitage merlot. The cabernet is scarce but still available at most outlets. The rest are on allocation and should be grabbed at the first opportunity. Many retailers have already sold out.