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Rhône leads the UK’s French category

Red Rhône wines are driving the French category in the UK and have seen strong volume growth in higher price brackets since 2007.

The UK continues to be the leading market for the Rhône (contributing to 20% of exports; the US (15%) and Belgium (14%) follow) and within the French category the region is asserting its dominance.

The French red AOC category has grown 12% in the UK off-trade (all figures are for off-trade) in the last two years, 90% of that being attributable to Rhône wines, which grew 13.9% in that period to 12.4m litres.

By comparison, Bordeaux wines grew only 0.4% in the last two years and the Languedoc shrank by 3.5% to 4.3m litres. All other other combined red French wines grew 7.5% to 4.7m litres.

In volume too the Rhône has been growing. Since 2007 sales of Rhône wines in the UK have switched from 58% of sales being in the under £4 category, to 59% being sold above £5.

The £4 and under bracket has shrunk to 21%, roughly the same amount as the above £5 category was six years ago (26%). The region has therefore seen a near compete reversal in spending patterns.

Thirty-nine percent of Rhône wines (just under 6m litres) now sit in the “heart” of the market in the £5-£6 category and indeed just over 1m litres are in the £10 and above category – well above Bordeaux.

The only category in which Bordeaux outperforms the Rhône is the £6-10 bracket.

Rising taxes have played their part in this rise but Olivier Legrand, Inter Rhône’s marketing manager, said that he believes that there has been continued consumer loyalty and in particular for a growing preference for Côtes du Rhône Rhône Villages, which grew 87% to 1.3 million litres last year.

Legrand said: “The trend seems to be that UK consumers are prepared to pay slightly more for quality wines such as Côtes du Rhône Villages.”

As recently reported by the drinks business, Inter Rhône’s marketing is the most memorable of recent French and other international campaigns and Legrand said the aim was to “build on the successes of the 2012 campaign, and continue to show a strong and clear brand identity for Rhône wines that consumers will instantly recognise.”

This will include sponsorship of the Southbank Festival this summer though fans of rugby will be disappointed to learn that sponsorship of the London Double Header will not continue.

More happily, the Halloween Quiz Night is back by popular demand.

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