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More than half chateau websites not fit for purpose, survey finds

French chateau websites are woefully inadequate, according to a new survey – while another has shed light on digital wine writing worldwide.

The first survey, by Bordeaux digital research company 10h11, looked at 145 chateaux.

Using 50 different indicators for success, including usability, e-commerce and use of social media, the study found that 92% of Bordeaux AOC estates have a website.

Of those, it found 54% were insufficient, and only 19% good. More than half (57%) are built in Flash, which makes them inaccessible on some smartphones and tablet devices.

Forty of those surveyed do not post their email address on their website.

Only Chateaux Lafite Rothschild and Marquis de Terme have a proper mobile version of their sites, and only two, Pape Clement and Palmer, allow users to sign up to an RSS feed.

In a country where the worth of wine sales online was estimated at €10m in 2011, less than one in five (4%) Bordeaux estates allow users to purchase wine direct – even by redirecting them to a merchant website.

On a more positive note, 77% are translated into both English and French, and 22% into Chinese. Eighty-five percent have a presence on Facebook.

At the same time, the Institut du Management du Vin in Dijon has been running a major study of wine blogs in China and America over the past year.

The research programme is due to last five years, with the list of target countries in the next phase enlarged to include France, England, Spain and Canada.

The aim is to get a worldwide picture on digital writing on wine and to identify the major bloggers in each of the countries selected.

The results of the first year showed that US bloggers were 69% male, 75% of them received no income at all from their blog, and the majority (62%) worked outside of the wine industry.

In China, the bloggers were younger (75% between 26-40 years old, while around 40% of US bloggers are aged between 40-55), 78% male, and 81% wine professionals.

Evelyn Resnick, one of the professors of the Dijon programme, told Decanter.com, ‘So far, the major difference I found between China and America is that American bloggers are talking about wine as a pleasure when Chinese are educating their audience.’

The surveys come a year after Andrew Jefford, in his April 2011 column on Decanter.com, asked, ‘why are so many websites so abysmally uninformative? And why are the websites of the best resourced companies often the very worst of all?’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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