The Moodie Davitt Report is delighted to feature a regular column, Vintage Valuation, in which we assess airport wine stores around the world. In each edition we rate the wine offer, merchandising and service by a number of key criteria, including:
- Size, depth, excitement of assortment: Is there a diversity of countries, regions, styles and varietals? Are (where applicable) the wines of the region or country well represented (where a store is located in a non wine-producing country, we will reallocate these points) – 20 points
- Price range and value: Is there a balance of price-points, from entry and mid-price level to the high-end? Is pricing competitive with the local market? – 15 points
- Is there innovation in the offer? Points of difference? Exclusives?– 15 points
- Is there an effort to engage the consumer via tastings and other promotions? – 15 points
- Do the staff display enthusiasm and knowledge in selling? – 15 points
- Overall impression: Does the merchandising, design and ranging create a true “wine experience”? – 20 points
Airport: Nice Côte d’Azur Airport
Retailer: Aelia Duty Free
Introduction: As the name of the airport implies, Nice is the (unofficial) capital of the Côte d’Azur. It’s also the (official) capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department on the French Riviera.
Moreover it’s wine country within a wine country. The wines of Côte d’Azur, the Alpes-Maritimes, of Provence and the south of France in general may not be as famous as their lofty cousins from Bordeaux and Burgundy to the North but recent years have seen an impressive lift in winemaking techniques and overall quality. There are regions, sub-regions and wines waiting to be discovered. Throw in some of the world’s most glorious scenery and why wouldn’t you want to embark on that voyage of discovery?
Here’s an airport that takes its role as gateway to a region seriously and that is manifested in a wine department that acts (along with the gourmet zone across the aisle) as the centrepiece for the whole duty free store, and features an outstanding array of wines from the south of France and beyond.
Local, regional or national labels are all to the fore. If it’s great Bordeaux you’re after, you’ll find it here. If your taste is for outstanding Burgundy, look no further. A perfect Provence rosé to remind you of the colours of the south. It’s Vive La France all the way. Don’t go asking for any New World wines though. You might just be chased out of the shop…
The wine assortment is as good as it looks – and that’s very good indeed. The Picture Galleries on this page (courtesy of local photographer Nicolas Gavet) capture both the brilliant merchandising and the sense of theatre that these wines bring to the store.
Pétrus 1982 and 2005; Château Lafite Rothschild 1982 and 2011; Cheval Blanc 2005; Château Lynch-Bages 1998 are just some of the great Bordeauxs on offer, all forming part of a magnificent Grand Crus selection presented in a temperature-controlled humidor. But there are plenty of value selections to be had too; four premium wines available for sampling; clear segmentation by region, style and colour; superb lighting and beautiful fixturing. The well-ranged Champagne section is a particular delight.
This feels like a wine department curated by a wine aficionado. It’s not just a matter of throwing in some high-price, high-margin blockbusters backed up by a mainstream offer that could be found in any airport or wine store. The offer feels tailored to this airport.
The staff are animated, engaging and knowledgeable. I asked a charming assistant called Angela about a wine on promotion, a 2011 Chateau Martet from Bordeaux. “It’s unusual to have a straight Merlot from Bordeaux,” she replied without hesitation. “It’s very nicely balanced. Would you like to try?” I did. And I purchased. This whole department oozes conviction, knowledge, assurance. You need that with wine.
I watched the same assistant deal expertly with two very fussy young Chinese shoppers determined to buy fine red Burgundy but keen to get value for money. They walked away happy and weighed down with wine.
The offer also includes a nice cross-section of Côtes du Rhône, Languedoc, Loire and Sud-Ouest wines and a splendidly vibrant display of Provence rosé and red.
If you’re going to be serious about wine in travel retail you have to give it prominence and treat it with panache. Aelia has achieved both here in great style. How refreshing to see the category for once not playing second fiddle to spirits and beauty. I am sure the incremental sales that result are very significant indeed.
The offer is cohesive, well-structured by price-point, region and style. It looks good. Is good. First rate in fact.
OVERALL VINTAGE VALUATION RATING (OUT OF 100): 90
PREVIOUS VINTAGE VALUATIONS
A VENETIAN AMBASSADOR
Masi has always been an ambassador for the values of the Venetian Regions. Its story began in 1772, when the Boscaini family, now in its seventh generation, bought prestigious vineyards in the “Vaio dei Masi”, in the heart of the Valpolicella Classica zone.
With Masi Historic Venetian Estates, the Boscaini family sanctions its work in promoting the cultural traditions of “territories of excellence” through single vineyard wines (crus) and historic noble estates.
In Valpolicella, Masi collaborates with the Conti Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante, owners of the estate since 1353, and in Rovereto it collaborates with the Conti Bossi Fedrigotti family, a prestigious aristocratic estate since 1697.
Cantina Privata Boscaini is made up of precious cru selections and great vintages of Amarone, produced in limited quantities and only when nature is at her most munificent. A family inheritance, to be conserved with the maximum care and shared with the best friends and closest wine passionates.
World leaders in the production of Amarone Classico, Masi has developed recognised expertise in the Appassimento technique through its Technical Group. The technique dates back to the ancient Romans and involves leaving grapes to dry on bamboo racks for the winter months to concentrate aromas and flavours in the resulting wine.
And an aptitude for innovation has resulted in the production of the widest and most expertly made range of Amaroni, Recioti and Double Fermentation wines – which together form Masi’s calling card in the world.
COMING NEXT IN VINTAGE VALUATION: Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International.