Close Menu

UK shows no sign of Sauvignon fatigue

British consumers aren’t tiring of New World Sauvignon, according to David Cox, head of UK and Europe for the New Zealand Winegrowers.

“I don’t think there is Sauvignon fatigue,” he told db at the country’s annual UK tasting last week, despite the event’s focus on Grüner Veltliner and Pinot Noir, as well as Bordeaux blends, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Citing figures from Nielsen for the New Zealand category in the UK off-trade, Cox highlighted an 11% rise in Sauvignon Blanc sales (MAT December 2011) to total 144.4 million litres, or over 16m cases, meaning this one grape variety now accounts for 84% of all New Zealand wine sold in British retail, followed by Pinot Noir with just under 6%.

Indeed, Cox urged the restaurant sector to consider a broader selection of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to reflect the range of price points and styles – and success of the category in the off-trade – while stressing the emergence of sparkling Sauvignon, which he said was designed to combine consumers’ “love of Sauvignon with their love of fizz”.

Speaking of the masterclass on New Zealand Grüner Veltliner, held during the tasting, and the self pour tables focusing on Chardonnay, Riesling and Bordeaux blends, he said: “Nothing is to the detriment of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – we still see legs in that.”

Meanwhile, commenting on the projected smaller harvest for this year following unusually cold conditions during flowering last year, he confirmed that “cool and rainy weather hit Marlborough and Nelson at flowering time and the signs are that we may be down in supply.”

However, he added: “It is still early days and the weather has suddenly turned wonderful,” leading the New Zealand Winegrowers to revise their prediction of a 20-25% reduction in grape tonnage for this year.

“Our last vintage averaged 9.2 tonnes per hectare and there will probably be a drop to less than 9 or possible 8 tons/ha,” he said.

He explained that global supply and demand for New Zealand wine was currently “more or less back in balance,” highlighting the 10% overall increase in sales (MAT December 2011), driven by rises in the country’s largest markets, with the UK up 14%, Australia up 8% and the US up 5%, while China, New Zealand’s fifth largest market, saw growth of 53%.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No