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NZ Sauvignon losing ground to Chile

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is losing ground to Chile and South Africa in the UK, according to a new report by Bibendum.

Casablanca is proving a hub for some of Chile's finest Sauvignon Blancs
Casablanca is proving a hub for some of Chile’s finest Sauvignon Blancs. Credit: Emiliana

Having suffered two reduced harvests in a row, UK off-trade sales of Sauvignon Blanc were down by 24% in the three months to 25 May.

Prices of Sauvignon Blanc have risen in the UK by an average of 11% in the same period, leading consumers to seek their Sauvignon fix elsewhere in the southern hemisphere.

Marcelo Papa, winemaker at Concha y Toro, believes the coastal region of Casablanca is currently producing Chile’s finest Sauvignon Blancs, which he describes as “dramatic and intensely aromatic”, while those from nearby Leyda are more “gentle and mineral” in style.

New Zealand producers will be hoping that a “dream” 2013 vintage will help them claw back sales from the clutches of their New World competitors.

Described by New Zealand Winegrowers as “one of the best vintages in history” the 2013 crop is up 28% on last year, which is music to Kiwi producers’ ears.

The Bibendum report also found that UK retail sales of wine costing £8-9 a bottle are up by 21%.

Prosecco and cava continue to pose a threat to off-trade Champagne sales in the UK
Prosecco and cava continue to pose a threat to Champagne retail sales in the UK

Further evidence that consumers are trading up on their wine buys is the news that 30% of drinkers are now willing to spend £5-7 on a bottle.

Bibendum reports that the average price of a bottle of wine in the UK off-trade now stands at £5.06, driven by the increase in duty to £2 per 75cl bottle of still wine.

“The growth of sales of £8-9 wines shows a burgeoning market for high quality wines in the UK and a growing demand from consumers to find out more on the subject,” the report states.

“Wine is really beginning to capture the imagination of drinkers who are increasingly spending more money to find something new, exciting and delicious,” it added.

The report also revealed that off-trade sparkling wine sales were up 10% in volume and 13% in value in the 12 months to May 2013, with cava and Prosecco increasingly encroaching on Champagne’s sales turf.

As a result, the report states that Champagne producers are starting to move away from supermarket promotions in order to concentrate on quality rather than volume.

The story is different in the on-trade however, where Champagne remains the fizz of choice for special occasions, with value sales up 15% in the three months to 23 March.

Wine faces increased competition in restaurants, pubs and bars from the likes of spirits, beer and cider.

“If wine is to boost sales and steal market share it must emphasise premium wine characteristics such as limited editions and quality of production,” the report urged.

Meanwhile, London’s restaurant scene continues to buck the national trend, with year-on-year restaurant sales in the capital up by 2.5% while sales across the UK were down by 2.5%.

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