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Croft gets Sassy and Shows its Softer, Pinker Side

Rose

Pink is hot this year! There are blogs dedicated to hot pink dresses, pink dog jerseys for your prancing little toy poodle, brilliant pink hair, pink party squares, and of course, pink wine. Pink is so cool, that even our emotional unbalanced and slightly obsessive swine, Ms. Piggy, has made her comeback on backpacks and t-shirts. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but at least you can rest assured if you’ve got a few bottles of rosé hanging out in your fridge that you’re officially in the “cool crowd”. And you’re not alone, as Croft has also gotten in the Pink bandwagon by launching the first ever, pink port.

So, where did this crazy and insane idea come from? According to Nick Heath, the Marketing Director for The Fladgate Partnership, it came from the head honcho and CEO, Adrian Bridge, “He set the task to our winemaking team – led by David Guimaraens – of producing a premium quality ‘pink’ port. The team subsequently developed a technique to extract fresh, fruity flavours and a delicate pink colour from limited contact with the skins of the classic Port grape varieties.”

Adrian goes on to say that, “The port industry needs innovation to raise awareness of port as a contemporary product which is why, three years ago, I came up with the idea of producing a lighter style of port. This will attract new consumers to the port category and at the same time de-seasonalise consumption. It has been a lot of work for the winemaking team but they have now produced this outstanding new wine.”

Is this a good idea? Should port be made into a rose or have we already reached the pinnacle of port’s expression?

My first experience with this oddity occurred last January at the II International Climate and Wine Conference, and at the time, I enjoyed it. It was an easy drinking wine with plenty of candy cherry aromas and a dense, lush mouthfeel. I walked away suggesting the wine to friends as a fun summer drink you could spritz up with a little soda and lime. But after trying it again today, it definitely didn’t hit the mark. Although I still appreciate the bold cherry aromas, the alcohol takes center stage, and I find my nose cringing at first sniff.

Croft Pink

So if this isn’t a great wine, should we be supporting Croft’s efforts? In the February 1st edition of Harpers Magazine, British wine writer, Charles Metcalfe voiced his support of Croft’s willingness to break the mold, “I think it’s a brilliant idea. I’ve never been a fan of white port, unless you dilute it with tonic water and lemon. It lacks finesse and elegance and there’s a lot of forgettable red stuff too. This is much more in tune with the times. I don’t know why no one has thought of it before? Port desperately needs to appeal to a younger generation.”

What Charles brings up is a point I think we all need to consider. Regardless of whether this style of port is fantastic, or rather mediocre, it’s a first try. Croft did a little experimentation to promote something new and different. No one ever says that the first trial will be the best trial, but at least they gave it a shot, which has unfortunately led to some rather controversial feedback.

When asked if Taylor’s received any negative criticism from the market since Croft Pink’s release, Nick Heath’s response was, the “reaction to Croft Pink has been very positive, both from trade, consumers and also from our colleagues in the port sector. We certainly haven’t seen any backlash.” Unfortunately, you can’t Google Croft Pink without coming up with a series of negative commentary. It’s impossible to ignore the wide range criticism from its lack of integration to its perceived targeting to women (many of whom are not pleased). On the flip side, their sales are increasing not only in Portugal, but abroad, as Pink Port is finding its niche market among the younger generation.

So what does this mean? Is this a good idea? Honestly, I don’t know? I give Taylor’s a lot of credit for being the first, as it takes a hell of a lot of gumption to market a pink port in an old school and traditional arena. For centuries, Port has been seen as an upper-class drink only stodgy men enjoy, and to create a style of port that flies in the face of this tradition shows a little chutzpa. Therefore, I love the idea. But on the other hand, it doesn’t make up for the wine needing better integration. Maybe in the future there will be a great example of a well made pink port, but for now, I can only cheer Croft on to keep inventing and experimenting with new ideas.

Have you tried Croft Pink? Do you feel that it’s a mockery of port wine or is it an ingenious invention?

Cheers,

Gabriella

Gabriella’s Tasting Note

  • N.V. Croft Porto Pink – Portugal, Douro, Porto (5/8/2008)
    Beautiful light cranberry in color with a dusty cherry core. On the nose,the port immediately shows a fair amount of alcohol, followed by candy cherry aromas supported by lighter more restrained notes of cream, red rose and dried cranberry. Soft and round in the mouth, but lacking in acidity and complexity. Simple and straightforward, I see this port working perfectly as a mixed drink with soda and lime! 2.5/5
  • Ryan’s Tasting Note

  • N.V. Croft Porto Pink – Portugal, Douro, Porto (5/8/2008)
    Gorgeous red color, with a viscosity that clings to the sides. A bit alcoholic on the nose with some subtle cherry flavors in the back ground. In the mouth the flavors are simple and cherry is the most predominant. A simple wine with room to improve it is none the less interesting. With a sliver of ice it’s even better! 2.5/5
    • Robert

      Unfortunately I have not tried it, and I suspect many others out there who have heard of this, like me, have not yet felt inclined to do so, so maybe we can comment on why not too? I'll be honest and say I never felt I was the target. I'm not sure I'd say it was for "women" (such plans are doomed anyway), but I'm guessing that the marketing plan's consumer segmentation would have been "anyone who does not already drink port". My big problem with this would be that I decided long ago that there are only so many alcohol units I can, or should, consume. I love wine, and so why waste those units on spirits, beers and high alcohol beverages when I don't need to? There will always be an occasion where these are appropriate (like an occasional G&T, refreshing pint or rich after dinner port), but what is the occasion for pink port? It is too alcoholic (even if it was integrated) for a refreshing summer drink – it'll put me to sleep in no time. In any case, there are plenty of non fortified wines that meet that need better. Is it supposed to replace other ports as an after-dinner drink? I don't think so. This is a neat idea looking for customers, not a solution to an existing demand. I'd be happy to be proven wrong

    • Vitor Mendes

      Great Article Gabriella. As Portuguese retailer, my opinion is that innovation is good, but only if we know the product very well, and if this product is one that everyone know and enjoys. The reality is that here in Portugal, only a few people know the difference between a ruby port and an aged one, or even a vintage. Well, you can say that innovating is the way to bring people to know port wines better, and that could become true, but in my opinion I think that the port wine producers must give more information to the consumers. Port is an excellent product, original and unique, and yet so unknown even in its own country… As consumer of port wines, only now at 43 am I finding the real excellence of this product, because of the deficit of information given to consumers. But honestly i am not very interested in tasting this pink port for now. I am more curious in trying to get my hands on some pearls that are waiting for me to taste them… maybe a Vargellas 2004… :-) Keep the good work Gabriella

    • http://www.wineconversation.com Robert

      Unfortunately I have not tried it, and I suspect many others out there who have heard of this, like me, have not yet felt inclined to do so, so maybe we can comment on why not too?

      I’ll be honest and say I never felt I was the target. I’m not sure I’d say it was for “women” (such plans are doomed anyway), but I’m guessing that the marketing plan’s consumer segmentation would have been “anyone who does not already drink port”.

      My big problem with this would be that I decided long ago that there are only so many alcohol units I can, or should, consume. I love wine, and so why waste those units on spirits, beers and high alcohol beverages when I don’t need to? There will always be an occasion where these are appropriate (like an occasional G&T, refreshing pint or rich after dinner port), but what is the occasion for pink port? It is too alcoholic (even if it was integrated) for a refreshing summer drink – it’ll put me to sleep in no time. In any case, there are plenty of non fortified wines that meet that need better. Is it supposed to replace other ports as an after-dinner drink? I don’t think so.

      This is a neat idea looking for customers, not a solution to an existing demand.

      I’d be happy to be proven wrong

    • Vitor Mendes

      Great Article Gabriella.

      As Portuguese retailer, my opinion is that innovation is good, but only if we know the product very well, and if this product is one that everyone know and enjoys. The reality is that here in Portugal, only a few people know the difference between a ruby port and an aged one, or even a vintage. Well, you can say that innovating is the way to bring people to know port wines better, and that could become true, but in my opinion I think that the port wine producers must give more information to the consumers. Port is an excellent product, original and unique, and yet so unknown even in its own country… As consumer of port wines, only now at 43 am I finding the real excellence of this product, because of the deficit of information given to consumers. But honestly i am not very interested in tasting this pink port for now. I am more curious in trying to get my hands on some pearls that are waiting for me to taste them… maybe a Vargellas 2004… :-)

      Keep the good work Gabriella

    • RichardA

      I commend Croft for their innovation. This could potentially be a gateway to get people to try other Ports as well. I would agree with Vitor that there is little info about Port out there for the average consumer. So why not provide something a bit less threatening for them to dip their toes into. Provided it tastes good, and Croft may need some time before perfecting this Port. From their website, this wine does not seem marketed specifically toward women, though I do see how some could try to do so. I have not tasted it, nor seen it yet in any local wine stores. I would at least try it if I saw it.

    • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

      I commend Croft for their innovation. This could potentially be a gateway to get people to try other Ports as well. I would agree with Vitor that there is little info about Port out there for the average consumer. So why not provide something a bit less threatening for them to dip their toes into. Provided it tastes good, and Croft may need some time before perfecting this Port.

      From their website, this wine does not seem marketed specifically toward women, though I do see how some could try to do so. I have not tasted it, nor seen it yet in any local wine stores. I would at least try it if I saw it.

    • Kirstin

      I have tried this port when on vacation in Portugal. I actually enjoyed it after a warm day and lots of climbing all over Porto to visit the lodges there. I also enjoyed the innovation of the product. It was like nothing else I’d tried and I’d tried over a dozen different ports while in Portugal. If I could locate a bottle in the US I would definitely buy it. Similar to the rose wine, it is either a good intro port or nice with ice on a hot afternoon. It was probably marked towards me, but I enjoyed it and didn’t mind at all.