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Cut-price Kiwi Sauvignon ‘a one-off’

New Zealand Sauvignon retailing at £4 a bottle in the UK is a thing of the past according to David Cox, head of UK & Europe, NZ Winegrowers.

Referring to heavy discounts on NZ wine such as the £3.92 bottle of Sileni Sauvignon Blanc recently featured in Tesco, Cox said: "Sure, there’s going to be price activity but the likes of [£3.92 activity] is not going to happen anymore.

"I think there’s a realism among producers and growers about price activity but we are not going to be so prolific about the discounting on our wines in the future," adding that "there’s going to be a real cutback on harvest for 2010, even more so than in 2009."

He added: "For example, Oyster Bay still has vibrant sales at £8.99," even though Waitrose is discounting it to £5.99 from 2 December to 5 January. Despite this, he commented that generally NZ is "still seeing a good average off-trade price of £6.25 a bottle. After all, we have earned enough stripes to ensure we have a loyal consumer base," added Cox.

Cox also told the drinks business that retailers are now geared up to promote sub-regionality of NZ wines, which was illustrated by the sub-regionality focus at the NZ Winegrowers tasting in London last week, whereby Marlborough sub-regions of Wairau and Awatere were both showcased separately.

"Even retailers are starting to push sub-regionality," continued Cox, "because it’s right for the NZ consumer to embrace the different styles. They need to understand NZ (and specifically Marlborough) is not a one-dimensional place."

Cox concluded by saying that the January 2010 annual NZ tasting in London will feature four key areas of focus for the country through their own separate tasting tables.

These four themes consist of sweet wines, aromatic varieties, interesting (more esoteric) varieties and aged reds, which will be approximately five to six years old.

Jane Parkinson, 16.11.09

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