The story of three entrepreneurs and their successful venture into China.
FROM the outside, Casa del Vino in Javea (Alicante), appears to be a tastefully designed corner shop, selling quality wines to those who aspire to sharpen their taste buds above the average supermarket selection.
But behind the Aladdin’s cave of coloured bottles peeping out from subtly illuminated recesses, vineyard boxes and straw filled tubs, the EWN uncovered a closely guarded secret that until now, only a handful of special agents located in the mysterious orient shared with the hidden backroom office simply named, The Spanish Wine Company.
Backroom directors British-born Matthew Kaine, Canadian Su Crow and Spaniard Alfonso Pinel, are the brains behind the organisation; a ”cocktail” of nationalities as Alfonso described it.
The company has been quietly supplying quality Spanish wines to various parts of the world for many years, including previously categorised no-go areas within the Eastern Bloc.
Encouraged by their success, they then decided to infiltrate one of the most lucrative but complex markets in the world, the Republic of China. Today, after four years of careful research and development, this Marina Alta based company has become the largest single exporter of Spanish brandy to the country.
Not just any brandy, but an exclusive formula, specially distilled, packaged and marketed to suit even the most discerning of Chinese palates, namely Velloso 18.
Already the product has sold more than 100,000 bottles in Guangzhou, a city with a population of some 20 million. And future sales are forecast at around one million within the next 12 months.
So why is this tipple so special that it is already threatening to topple Hennessy and Remy Martin off the top of the Chinese must-have list?
The simple answer is that it ticks all the boxes required to penetrate a diverse culture that can trace its ancestry back to 2,000 BC.
A photograph taken by studio ‘Instants’ in Javea, portraying Mathew in James Bond mood preferring his Velloso brandy to the charms of Bond girl Zoe Crow, proved so popular that virtually every area of the city promotes the image in some form of advertising.
Matthew is very aware of the traps would be exporters can make in haste, including wrongfully assuming that popular Western brands can be slotted into mainstream China with just a change of language.
He explained that a bottle without a ‘punt’ (recess in the base of the bottle) is not acceptable; neither are plastic wrapped tops and that only real cork can accompany a quality brandy.
Velloso 18 is named after Wilfredo El Velloso, Count of Barcelona, Gerona and Besalú, where the brandy is made, and proudly displays a label featuring a golden shield with red vertical stripes, topped with a golden crown, depicting the flag of Catalonia.
Legend has it that Count Velloso died defending his lands from the Muslim forces and that the red lines are blood from his fingers. Whilst Matthew and the team are very happy with their latest success story, especially within the present economic climate, they are not sitting back on their laurels.
An even more mature version of Velloso 18 has been perfected, Velloso 25.
After the privilege of being invited to a tasting of this latest ambrosia of the gods, I have no hesitation in forecasting a very bright future for this refreshingly positive trio of entrepreneurs.
EWN Exclusive By Benny Davis