Diary of a Passionate Wine & Spirits Sales Executive — Part 2


Diary of a Passionate Wine & Spirits Sales Executive — Part 2

At The Wine Rack

with Christopher Reckord

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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Here is Part 2 of an interview with Pascal Bony, sales director, Latin America & Caribbean, for the Provence Rosé Group. Bony has spent a total of 22 years, including 13 years with Hennessy Cognac, and nine years with Moët-Hennessy, dedicated to the Caribbean markets.

Chris Reckord (CR): What are the main segments of the market that you are focused on with these products ?


Pascal Bony (PB): The focus will be on “classic” distribution channels: ON-Trade (hotels, restaurants and bars). All the wines of the portfolio are made for that segment: Esprit and Romance mostly for “by the glass” programmes, and the Côtes de Provence wines for wine lists and special sponsorships.

OFF-Trade (supermarkets, liquor stores). Especially ESPRIT ROMANCE and EMOTION. For their affordable price and great visibility on the shelves. Moreover, restaurant owners and chefs usually don't like to find the same wine listed on their wine list and available in supermarkets. Therefore, Inspiration, Château de Berne Estate and Ultimate Provence might not be listed in supermarkets, only in liquor stores whenever it's possible.


CR: How did you get involved in the wine and spirits business?

PB: I started my career, a long time ago, as a computer specialist in a big French bank. In 1990 I was recruited by Hennessy company, and in 1996 I became international project manager for the Irish (Dublin) and Asian (Hong-Kong & Singapore) subsidiaries of Hennessy Cognac (at that time Moët-Hennessy did not have the “control” it has today on each company of the group)… After 2000, Moët-Hennessy took over almost every department (including IT) of each company of the group, and in 2002 The Latin America and Caribbean regional president of MH offered me this position in the Caribbean. I moved to the Caribbean in September 2003. As a French epicurean I was already very involved in wine tasting and winemaking, but became a real professional when I had the privilege to learn from all these winemakers and cellar masters of the big companies. Parallel of that, I have several very good friends who are winemakers and winegrowers in the Cognac region, as well as in Burgundy and Bordeaux, so I could really learn from them at every stage of my private and professional lives.


CR: Any favourite wines from your portfolio?

PB: I have two “babies” very different in style and personality, but so exceptional in quality: Château de Berne Estate (dry and fruity — aromatic complexity on the palate — the minerality I like, a very well-balanced acidity — a very elegant and sophisticated wine!) and Urban Provence (blossom and red fruit, unusual hints of white pepper for a Côtes de Provence, perfect acidity and pleasant minerality).


CR: Your thoughts on improving the Jamaican wine scene?

PB: The key words are education and training. TV shows can help. As well, specialised training centres such as the new Academy of Bartending Spirits & Wines will contribute to raise the average level of knowledge for sure.


Definitely, there is deep field work to do, and all the professionals involved in the chain are concerned:

1 The providers: Brand owners, people like me in charge of a portfolio on their markets, have to train distributors, management and staff, as well as retail customers on their products. Transmit basic information about the region of production, the winery (Domain/Château/Estate/House), key winemaking points/key selling points.

2 The local distributors: They have to train their staff internally so that the staff will be able to transmit the knowledge to the trade.

3 The trade: Incentive programmes for the attention of F&B professionals (waiters, bartenders, restaurant managers) to prove their worth. This is a very good tool to motivate the professionals and make them feel like learning more. The cost of such programmes are usually borne by both local distributors and providers.

4 Having more and more people with WSET2 or WSET3 certification!


CR: What does a typical week for you look like?

PB: If I'm home in Panama: either a minimum of 14 hours per day on the computer (I have to deal with 15 key Caribbean markets and eight key Latin American countries, so reporting and e-mail exchanges are more than important), or field work visiting potential customers with the local distribution company's sales force. My work consists of meeting, explaining, training, tasting, convincing, but above all: sharing the passion!

If I'm on a market visit: For instance, I'm just back from a one-month Caribbean tour of Grenada, Barbados, Saint Martin, Saint Barth's, Antigua, Bahamas and Jamaica, where I met with local partners or potential local partners (local partner = local distribution company such as Select brands, Betco, CPJ, Harbour Wines, and J Wray & Nephew in Jamaica, apart from booking plane tickets and hotels on the web (I do everything by myself), I also organise sending of samples from France to every market. Then I organise wine tastings with influencers (such as you!), and of course go on the road with local partner's sales forces to meet with potential customers (restaurants, hotels, bars, opinion leaders). Then make a business review (wrap-up meeting) with top management/decision makers just before leaving the market.

I like to wrap the week with some kind of sport activity.

CR: Why are rosé wines hot and why should we be drinking more of them?

1 They are perfect for the Caribbean climate! Red wines are not adapted at all for this climate: either too cold or too warm. Red wines are very rarely served at the appropriate temperature (unless in upmarket expensive restaurants). Rosé wines can be served outdoor (on the beach, by the pool) or indoor (at home, in restaurants, hotels, bars, night clubs).

2 A “new” category on the market, the world's fastest-growing category of wine since more than five years.

3 Even if the rosé wines benefit from an international recognition by the greatest wine experts, they are easy to drink; no need to be a wine specialist to enjoy them. Moreover, rosé wines cover a wide price range, from bottom market to top market.


Christopher Reckord — Wine Enthusiast and CEO of Managed IT services provider tTech Limited. Send your questions and comments to creckord@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord

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