Wine drinkers appear to apply a different set of standards to sparkling wine. For starters, they’re willing to pay a whole lot more for it – for the price of an ordinary non-vintage Champagne one can buy a seriously amazing bottle of still wine (which in many cases they’d never countenance purchasing). Then there’s the issue of the corks – sparkling wines are just as prone to cork taint as still wines, but wine drinkers seem to be very much more forgiving on this issue as well.
We recently shared a bottle of Veuve Clicquot yellow label (non-vintage) with some friends. The wine was obviously corked, and I put my glass aside. However, there was no way that my friends were going to discard a wine of such cost and prestige. It was only after some fairly determined argument that I was able to convince them that the bottle truly was faulty.
As the bottle was a gift I was unable to do what I would normally do when encountering a corked bottle – return it to the vendor. So, I turned to the Veuve Clicquot website (www.veuve-clicquot.com), which does a fantastic job of supporting the brand. It’s a really good ‘corporate’ site for an international lifestyle brand.
What rocked my world, though, was the very quick and easy route to the Contact page (it’s amazing how many websites carry no contact information) where I was able to report the quality issue. Within 24 hours I had a response from a real, live person requesting further information. Once I’d provided this I received a reply advising me that the offending bottle would be replaced, which it soon was.
Full marks to Veuve Clicquot in every respect! At no point was there any opportunity for me to get frustrated, and Clicquot used the experience to build their brand even further.
I tell anyone who is willing to listen that the Champagne producers are the wine world’s best marketers. There is no-one that entertains more graciously, nor more generously. They live and communicate their passion extraordinarily well. And Veuve Clicquot has taken this all one step further, by connecting their product to consumers’ lifestyles.
Wine drinkers are perhaps not wrong in applying different standards to Champagne, because marques like Clicquot have clearly applied different standards in their relationship with the market.