Jo Ahearne, Harrods Buying Manager: “French wines are the best selling in value, but Italian ones are increasing”
Between the wines on Harrods wine shop, Pinot Grigio is the best selling, but French wines represent the best selling in value. While Sicily is emerging in the London market. The statisticis confirmed by Jo Ahearne, Master of Wine, since 2008 Wine & Spirits buying Manager at Harrods wine shop. She tastes wines from every parts of the world and decides which ones have to be placed on prestigious wine shop shelves. She loves Italian and Sicilian wines that are considered the best in the world. Furthermore she reveals how it is changing the perception of consumers towards the Made in Italy, enphasizing how communication plays a fundamental role in order to promote it. For her the best business card for a wine is a simple and straightforward label that gives precise information about wine and production region.
Which are the best selling products?
“This depends is you are asking value or volume. Fine wine such as Chateau Lafite or Petrus sell for high value but wine such as Harrods own label Pinot Grigio made by Cavalchina in Custoza”.
Which kinds of Italian wines do English people prefer?
“There is no such thing as an English taste. Some people like Brunello others prefer Chianti others Pinot Grigio or Prosecco. Also we have a lot of non-British customers so what we sell does not necessarily represent the UK taste”.
Which are the best seller sparkling wines?
“For us Champagne is the best selling sparkling wine but if you mean just sparkling then Prosecco”.
What do You usually drink?
“It depends what mood I am in and what I am doing. As an aperitivo sometimes I like to drink a fine sherry or gin and tonic. With a meal it depends on the meal. With spicy Indian food I often drink beer. With “lasagne” I love a red Lambrusco. Then with a “bistecca” an elegant Brunello. I have a great love of Italian wines and they are important to our sales even though French wines we sell the most of”.
Do you taste wines before buying them?
“Absolutely. Although unfortunately I don't get to try each case of lafite 82 that I buy”.
How the brand and the label can determinate the choice in buying wines?
“For me it is all about the taste but I also need to respond to customer requests. So if a customer wants to buy a certain brand I will get it for them”.
And what about Sicilian wines? Do English people like them? And you?
“I think Sicilian wine have some of the best value wines in the world as well as some of the most elegant. Again there is no such thing as Sicilian wine. The difference between a lower altitude Nero D'Avola and higher altitude with lower yield is enormous. And then there is Nerello Mascalese from Etna which are some of the most sublime wines in the world. I think maybe the UK are just understanding how wide a range of wines there are from Sicily but like the simplicity of the regional and varietal labelling”.
Translated by M.A.P.