Italy storming up Wine Society ranks

Society members are being seduced by Spanish and Italian wines despite a deeply held attachment to France.

Toby Morrhall

Toby Morrhall

Asked about the biggest trends at the Wine Society, and Burgundy, buyer Toby Morrhall, is emphatic.

“It’s got to be Italy and Spain. People are looking for cheaper wines and you can get some great value, old Garnacha from Catalyud for example, while Italy is scorching ahead at all levels.”

The comments, at the Society’s summer Press Tasting (June 9), were backed up by Tim Sykes, head of buying.

“Italy’s now number two for us, having overtaken Chile, and it’s not just Prosecco or Pinot Grigio” Sykes told the drinks business.

At present there are just two Proseccos among the 110 Italians listed. Among new entrants are a Greco di Tufo, a Calabrian red, a Zibibbo from Sicily and a pink Lambrusco.

“Overall we seem to be selling more and more light, fresh aromatic whites,” he added, mentioning the Society’s own-label Vinho Verde, which went “from 0 to 3000 cases almost overnight,” when first listed last year.

Yet France continues to dominate with over 50% of the Society’s sales. “Yes, we’re still massively Francophile, and while it may have eroded a few per cent in the last ten years, I don’t see that reality really changing,” says Sykes.

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