Le Beast at LeWeb’08

I read recently in Off License News that American wines have now bested the French in terms of sales here in the UK. Sales have gone from 5% to 17% in the last ten years while in the same time period French wine sales have fallen from 35% to 17% . Good and bad news. The good news is we’re No. 2, behind Australia. The bad news is that the wines that are leading the way are the entry level (read Blossom Hill and others of  their ilk) wines. Not the best we have to offer but hey, ever heard of “trading up”? Maybe now that UK consumers are becoming familiar with American wines, they might want to take the next step up.

le-beast1

Le Beast

So are the French just going to rest on their laurels? Apparently, yes.  The French state secretary for the internet, Eric Besson was challenged by “Le Beast” recently about what he was going to do about wine advertising on the internet. I know, Le Beast sounds like a bad French knock off of a Hollywood blockbuster but Le Beast is real (well, he’s a furry puppet) and terroirizing (sorry, I couldn’t resist) the French bureaucrats who won’t let French winemakers or wineries advertise on the internet. In effect, they are not allowed to sell alcohol on the internet or have winery websites.  Le Beast is the mascot/ambassador for the winegrowers of the Languedoc-Roussillon region who are fighting to change French internet alcohol laws and raise awareness of the region.  

 When the furry muckraker demanded to know why French winemakers were not allowed to advertise on the internet  at the recent LeWeb ’08 conference held in Paris, Monsieur Besson replied that they did not have to advertise because, and I’m not making this up, “they (the wines) are so good, they don’t need to be advertised.” Like they say, with friends like that, who needs enemies?

Here’s hoping Le Beast gets through to those lunkheads in Paris. Check him out jousting with Secretary Besson here

8 Comments

  1. Thank you Beast for your, ummm, rebuttal. As you know, furry beasts have always been persecuted by mankind and I can only surmise that yet another smear campaign has been launched against you. I am more then happy to help you set the record straight. When I originally wrote the post the only thing I knew about LeBeast was what I had read in Decanter online or your site so when a winery from the Languedoc commented on one of my posts, I natually thought they knew more then me about what goes on there.

    Thank you for setting the record straight, that’s what this forum is for. I do apologise if any misinformation that has been given out regarding your wonderful wines, which I had the opportunity to taste at the France under one Roof show the other day.

  2. What is zee le nonsense from lapeira?! Eeez no US wines. EEEz no CLICK wines. Eeez Clink! Wines (i.e. le clink le bottle eh!). Eeez in le UK! And yes, we are selling to le USA, but le information above is totally incorrect Madame! By the way we do not buy le wine from le co-op at all. Sheet sheet sheet. We produce our wines with le fantastique winemaker – eez all from le family…

  3. lapeira /

    Le Beast is a wine by the US based Click! Wines (working with Loren Feldman of 1938 Media). It’s amazing clever. They are create fun brands for wines. A bit like the ‘Mad dogs and English Men’ Spanish label and others. Le Beast is not the mascot/ambassador for the winegrowers of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Loren Feldman who does the voice ect in American. I imagine Click buys the wine from a co-op or large producer and bottles, labels, sells it. I don’t think there is any organisation in the Languedoc fighting to change French internet alcohol laws. Love the post and your blog!

    • au contraire, mon ami, according to his “about” section on his site (yes he has his own website, very unFrench) –

      “Le Beast was created by an international team of wine people with backgrounds in winemaking, marketing and film, who believe in France’s greatness, and that the Languedoc can become the powerhouse that drives the reinvention of the entire French industry. We believe passionately that great wine can be made and sold at reasonable prices and that wine is all about fun. And, there is not much place for the traditional pretense of French wine….”

      He is voiced by an American though ( nobody could do a French accent that exaggerated!) and here in London he’s being promoted as their ambassador and making various appearances at trade events. I’m hoping he’ll be at the Independent Vignerons show on the 20th of Jan here in London, so I can interview him!

      I thought that the name Le Beast was familiar. I must have seen it on one of my trips home. I don’t know what, if any, connection he has with Le Beast in the US…Thanks for reading!

  4. you know how stubborn the French can be but I do hope that Le Beast and others like him can persuade them to change the laws. I was speaking to a frenchwoman at the WBC and she told me that the French gov. has decided to wait 5 years to study the internet and then decide what to do about internet laws….plus ca change, indeed!

  5. It’s incredible (although perhaps not really) that influential French governement types still hang onto this sort of attitude when one of their key industries is in such trouble. Plus ca change…

  6. Wow, Denise! Interesting! I wonder if the sagging dollar has anything to do with the growth, too? What with the Pound and Euro being so strong it means you all can get phenomenal bargains when buying in dollars.

    • well, Liza, that used to be the case but now the pound has sunk like a stone. As recently as Aug. I was getting $2 to the english pound. When I went home, everything was half price – ah, the good old days. Now, it’s 1.45 to the pound. It will be interesting to see if that affects sales. I’d love to see some high end CA wines here but it looks like that window may have passed, at least for the time being. But with people like Mr. Besson in charge of french wine, we may still have a fighting chance! ;-)

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