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Lidl to bring back Bull’s Blood

Lidl is to launch a 1970’s favourite, Bull’s Blood, as part of its spring Wine Cellar specials range.

The Hungarian wine, which comes from vineyards near the town of Eger, has been reimagined for a modern generation, and is part of the discounter’s latest Wine Cellar promotion that turns its focus on Hungary and the New World.

It is rolling out three red, four white and one dessert wine from Hungary, which will be in store from 3 March comprising both native and international varieties, including Egri Bikavér (which translates as ‘Bull’s Blood of Eger’) from Juhasz, a Kekfrankos from Szekszárdi, Mészáros Pál, a Villányi Cuvée from Polgár Therápia, a Sir Irsai from Etyek-Buda, a Pinot Gris from from Neszmély, Hilltop 2013, a Tokaji Furmint and Tokaji Kesoi Arany Grand Selection 2013. One further Hungarian white will be rolled out in a second tranche on 21st April.

Ben HulmeWine buyer Ben Hulme told the drinks business it was time for the discounter to broaden its horizon and find a balance between more classic wines from France, and more adventurous listings.

“When we started in earnest around 18 months ago, it made sense to start with a classic region like France as we needed to build our reputation for wine, and that was a good place to start. As we’ve taken our customer on a journey, they’ve trusted us, sales have done well, and we’ve had some good feedback, so we’ve been broadening our horizons,” he told db.

“It is about striking a balance between the classic and the slightly more niche ‘oddities’ that deliver a quality and are very good value. “

Caroline Gilby MW, one of three Masters of Wine working with Lidl, said the UK consumer was more open to exploring wines, and Hungary was likely to benefit from a “nostalgic” feeling from those who remember it in its 1970’s heyday.  However she added it was “coming back in a new guise”, following the development of the Hungarian market. The current, second generation of winemakers had moved winemaking techniques and the mass market, ex-communist state had been transformed into a buzzing industry with some unusual styles, she said.

New World focus

The discounter is also introducing New World wines, which Hulme described as an untapped area, to the Wine Cellar, with three Australian, four South African and one New Zealand wines.

“The New World was the final frontier for us as we’ve not done it in The Wine Cellar before.” he noted. “Within our listed range of standard wines, a lot of our New World wines are our best selling lines, so we’d like to expand on the listed range as well.”

It has also doubled the size of allocation from the New World, taking on around 64k bottles of each instead of the usual 10k-30k, in order to ensure enough stock.

“We need to overcommit to ensure availability,“ he said.

Lidl’s wine offer has seen year on year sales up 15% in 2014-15, with market share of round 4.3%. However it is spirits that are likely to see the greatest growth, Hulme said, pointing out trading in December was +40% on the previous year. “We will take the learnings from the Wine Cellar and apply that to the spirits concept, keep innovating and have more products to take into that bay.”

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