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High-quality wine on a budget : French winery targets Koreans looking to save on luxury drinks

Feb 16,2017
Mailys Deville, new brand Ambassador for Baron Philippe de Rothschild for Korea and Japan, talks about the company’s daily wine on Monday during her first visit to Korea.[ALLIED YOUNG FBC]
A photo of a vineyard that grows grapes for Mouton Cadet in Pauillac, France. [ALLIED YOUNG FBC]
A bottle of French wine Mouton Cadet, left, and a bottle of Chilean wine Escudo Rojo. [ALLIED YOUNG FBC]
Would you be able to afford drinking a three-hundred-dollar or more bottle of wine everyday? For a majority of people the answer would be no, but that does not mean that they cannot drink quality wine. French wine maker Baron Philippe de Rothschild, best known for its world-class Chateau Mouton Rothschild, offers up its more affordable daily wine: Mouton Cadet made in France and Escudo Rojo made in Chile.

The two wines, which have been on the market for years in Korea, will now extensively target younger consumers who want to dip their toes in the world of wine, and newly named brand ambassador for Korea Mailys Deville has been charged with making bottles of wine appear on more dining tables throughout East Asia.

Deville, who is also in charge of analyzing the market for Japan, plans to use social media and other new technologies that young people in Korea use the most, such as Instagram and mobile programs that enable augmented reality. As a first time visitor to Korea, one thing she noticed was people taking out cameras to take photos everywhere, especially at restaurants soon after their food is served, to post their whereabouts online.

“We are one of the oldest wine brands, but we are always trying to find a new way to reach consumers,” said Deville in an interview Tuesday.

“And we are developing some creative ideas with our Korean partner on [programs that execute] augmented reality or virtual reality to give consumers easier access to the information on the wines simply with their phones by scanning [labels to learn] more about the world of the brand.”

The brand has seen a steady 10 percent increase with its sales of French wine Mouton Cadet since 2013 and the same rate of increase was seen with its Chilean wine Escudo Rojo last year in Korea.

Korea is the fourth largest market for the brand, after China, Japan and Hong Kong. Korea has set a meaningful history for Escudo Rojo, as it was the first-ever country to place an order for the wine in 2001 prior to the 2002 World Cup held in Korea and Japan. The red-labeled wine was imported to appeal to fans of the Korean national team, who are known for wearing red while cheering for the squad.

Pushed by the steady sales it has seen in the country, the France-based company has been working closely with its Korean partner Allied Young FBC to launch a mobile service using augmented reality technology as early as the second quarter of this year. Although the details of the service are still not known, the brand and the local partner said a game will also be available so that players can get coupons they can use in real life when buying wine or wine-related accessories. The service will be exclusive to consumers in Korea at first, but if the brand sees positive results, it may become available worldwide.

“The Korean market is really competitive,” Deville said. “I feel like Korean consumers are getting more and more knowledgeable on the wines they drink and [accordingly] their expectations are getting higher, and I think that [makes me] see a huge potential in the market and [even expect] better results based on the performance we have seen so far.”

The attention given to wines from the brand was further bolstered domestically after Korean artist Lee Ufan made a label for its prestigious Chateau Mouton Rothschild’s 2013 vintage which was released to the local market last year. Although its daily wine Mouton Cadet and Escudo Rojo are completely different from the wine with Korean artist’s deisgn, the brand has seen a trickle-down effect assuring consumers that the other wines made by the same company are of a higher quality than others.

“I think it is insurance for consumers as even if they don’t know much about wines, they know that when they choose a [familiar] name brand’s wine that they are buying something that are high quality,” said Deville.

“Wine is not just for people who have money or who have knowledge about it, and that’s what we want to show- that everyday wine can be good quality as well.”

As the goal is to have people enjoy wine everyday, the ambassador refrained from suggesting what type of food would go well with wine. Instead, she encourages matching the wine with any food one eats comfortably.

“We do give out suggestions but they are just one opinion,” said Deville. “We want people to freely come up with their own food they eat at home and match them with these two wines. That’s also what makes [drinking wine] more exciting for many - and also fun for us to see how people match our wines with different food.”

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]