“We don’t develop stories about wine, we develop wines for stories.”
These were the words of Edouard Bijoux, a Master of Wine (MW) from E&J Gallo (hereinafter referred to as Gallo), at a press conference held at Lotte Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul, on March 30. MW is a wine certification awarded to top wine sommeliers by the UK-based Institute of Masters of Wine. On this day, Edu and Bijou were in Korea to introduce Gallo’s luxury wine, Orin Swift.
Part of the world’s largest winery, E&J Gallo, Orin Swift is known not only for its wine quality, but also for its unique label design. The abstract design is more reminiscent of a contemporary artwork than a wine label. It contrasts with other wine products that emphasize fresh grapes or farm images. “There are not many wines in the world that have such a unique label story,” says MW Edouard Bijoux, who is confident that “Orin Swift is unique.”
Edouard Bijou, Master of Wine (MW) at E&J Gallo, explains the ‘Orin Swift’ brand at Lotte Hotel Dorim in Jung-gu, Seoul. /Photo=Lotte Chilsung
Wine labels banned for being too racy
Orin Swift’s luxury wine ‘Abstract’ has a label that combines numerous portraits. The label design utilizes collage, an artistic technique often used in pop art, to express the brand’s identity. AppTrack is a blend of over 100 wine grapes from all over California.
One wine that exemplifies the brand’s commitment to labeling is Machete. Machete has been banned in Dubai and several states in the U.S. due to its graphic label design. In Korea, it is only allowed to be sold in duty-free shops. The wine has retained its label design and has become so popular that it was ranked sixth on the prestigious Wine Spectator list of the top 100 wines of 2016토토사이트.
“Machete is a limited production wine, so we’re not pushing outlets,” said Eduwa Bijou, MW, “We’re going to sell it in each country.”
Orin Swift Premium Wine/photo=LOTTE CHILSUNG
“A wine with great structure and elegance”
Among the many criteria for a luxury wine, Edouard and Bijou MW put “good quality” at the top of the list. This is why Gallo has invested millions of dollars in winery acquisitions over the past 15 years. The company has acquired Napa Valley’s Stage Coach Vineyards, Santa Lucia Highlands’ Sleepy Hollow Vineyards, and Sonoma Valley’s Monterosso Vineyards, all known for producing top-notch wines, to produce high-quality luxury wines.
Orin Swift joined Gallo in 2016. The strengths of Orin Swift’s creative and quality focus aligned with Gallo’s demanding business philosophy.
“Orin Swift is a structured, elegant wine made from grapes from only the best vineyards,” says Edouard Bijoux MW, “and while fine wines can be drunk in 10 to 20 years, (Orin Swift wines) have good ageing potential.”
He particularly appreciates the blending acumen of label creator and Orin Swift founder Dave Phinney. “Dave is known to be a genius when it comes to blending,” he says, adding, “The great label design and the stories behind it are what make Orin’s Swift wines so compelling.”
“8 years in the desert 2020” is a prime example of Finney’s blending prowess. The wine is an early incarnation of Orin Swift, a blend of California’s signature grape, Zinfandel, with varietals including Petite Sirah and Syrah. It is praised for its unique flavor with sweet raspberry juice, pepper, and herbal notes.
8.5x increase in domestic Orin Swift imports
Lotte Chilsung Beverage has been importing orin swift since 2018. From 2019, the company increased its imports, and by the end of 2022, sales volume increased by about 8.5 times. In the five years since its launch, the average annual growth rate has reached 64.2%. South Korea was the largest Asian importer of Orin Swift as of the end of last year. It accounted for 15.7% of the brand’s global exports. Orin Swift’s wines are priced between $150,000 and $450,000, reflecting the rapid growth of fine wine in the country.
“The potential of the Korean premium wine market is high,” said Eduwa Bijou MW. He attributes Orin Swift’s rapid growth in the Korean market to its affordability, design, and brand story. “Whiskey and wine have different drinking occasions,” he said, “and the approach of consumers to wine with food is different from that of whiskey.”
Orin Swift is gaining traction with younger generations not only in the country, but around the world, including Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. “Traditional French wines have been popular in the past, but millennials who don’t want to drink the same thing are looking for wines that are unique and tell a great story,” said Edouard Bijoux, MW.