Talking loyalty with a Pike on the line

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“When it comes to a wine that goes best with excellent fish and chips, I turn to a solid performer that I first encountered at Stanley’s café in Gouger Street, Adelaide (now long closed): Pikes riesling,” writes wine columnist RICHARD CALVER

THERE are all sorts of reasons that marketers isolate as the rationale for purchasers to buy a specific product. I went trawling for ideas in this space.

Richard Calver.

One of the most important elements for wine is brand loyalty. Persons more learned than I am, define this concept as “a deeply held predisposition to re-patronise a preferred brand or service consistently in the future, causing repetitive same-brand purchasing despite situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behaviour.”

The definition is cited in Bianchi et al “Antecedents of consumer brand loyalty in the Australian wine industry” (2014).

In other words, you keep buying the same brand despite other temptations. 

This kind of loyalty is, for me, contextual. I rarely eat fish and chips these days, mostly because the fish type is undisclosed and I detest the profligate use of Basa with its cat-fish blandness and chemical taste. 

But when it comes to a wine that goes best with excellent fish and chips, I turn to a solid performer that I first encountered at Stanley’s café in Gouger Street, Adelaide (now long closed): Pikes riesling. 

Stanley’s served up large portions of King George whiting, superbly fresh and fine-textured, with house-made chips and a salad that often remained untouched, adorned with an orange slice. 

My pescatarian Adelaide friends and I enjoyed the lunchtime splendour of this dish with a bottle of Pikes when I was visiting SA on business and would attach a day or two’s leave to the trip, lunching with them and visiting the McLaren Vale wineries just out of town. Headline: “Man has good time in Adelaide”.

Pikes Clare Valley 2019 riesling.

With barramundi fillets and home-cooked chips on the menu, I purchased a bottle of 2019 Pikes “Traditionale” Clare Valley riesling for $22 from Vintage Cellars Manuka.

It was as I had anticipated: crisp, clean, mouth filling and with grip on the finish, perhaps a little younger and more acidic than memory served, but still great value for money and a good match for the meal.

Yet in the Halliday guide it said there had been a changing of the guard at Pikes. How did they maintain this level of consistency if the daddy of the school, Neil Pike, had retired?

I thought I’d ask the winery directly and called. I spoke with the charming Madison Pike, who has married into this dynasty and co-ordinates their marketing. 

This wine is in its 35th year (exceeding Madison’s age!) and the consistency has been maintained because Steve Baraglia moved into the role of chief winemaker following Neil Pike’s retirement. 

He has worked at Pikes since 2003 so the continuity required as a base for loyalty has been maintained.

For those who want to recollect the challenge of loyalty in the face of change, just revisit the “traditional” versus “new” Coca-Cola debacle, now an interesting documentary on Netflix. 

I asked Madison about the seeming fact that young people seem to have turned away from riesling as a discernible trend. 

Her honesty was encouraging: “Yes, I didn’t drink riesling, til I dated a Pike. I’ve just turned 30 and it’s my go-to wine.” 

That honesty reinforced my loyalty, but also made me sad that the traditional Australian complex citrusy rieslings are being set aside for other white-wine choices such as pinot grigio.

It was good to get a Pike on the line and have a conversation about consistency in the face of change, netting some honest comments.

Loyalty is rarely scalable and it was a good day to see that a Pike remains a Pike (if my puns are a sinker, cast your reading elsewhere or just let minnow).

 

 

 

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Richard Calver
Richard Calver walks, talks, thinks, drinks and writes passionately about wine, especially the wines of the Canberra region.

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