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Brits help the Bordelais

Published:  23 July, 2008

A British-run company is teaching Bordelais winemakers how to boost sales in the UK.

Speechmark, run by Brit Brinda Bourhis, is a consultancy specialising in English-speaking courses for French producers. More than 100 producers now attend one of its courses each year.

The courses include tasting technique, a press relations course, wine tourism and marketing. Last week, five producers came to the UK to meet importers, journalists and visited Denbies wine estate in Surrey.

Since setting up in 2003, Bourhis has seen a change in attitudes among producers. Bordeaux producers were reticent at first but we've seen much more interest since the sales crisis in 2004,' she said.

Bourhis believes one of the reasons why the Bordelais have not understood the consumer is because of the traditional market structure, where producers sell to brokers rather than the public.

One of the visiting Bordelais was Nicolas Marie, marketing manager for his father's Haut-Mdoc estate, Chteau Cambon la Pelouse. He said: We sell 98% of our wine through the ngoces so I've come to the UK to find out who's drinking our wine.'

The courses are part-funded by the French agriculture ministry, with the producers paying around 50% of the fee.