Waitrose boosts Italian range and focus on small parcels

Waitrose is upping its focus on small volume wines that will see it add a revolving series of fine wines that are better signposting in store, and boosting its Italian range

Alton-waitrose-3The move is being driven by the Italian range following an initial trial, according to Italian buyer Maria Elener, but is set to be expanded wider to include other Old World classics.

The trial which started at Easter covering Brunello, Super Tuscan wines, Barolo, and Amarone, did very well, but Elener said it was about getting ‘the right parcels”, with volumes varying between 30 to 2,500k cases .

“We will look at the analysis of sales and see what the properties to land the message with customers, and once that is worked out, we can work out the cluster range and roll out broader portfolio from Bordeaux, he Rhône, Burgundy,” she said.

However, one learning the supermarket is taking from the trial is in flagging up the new wines better in stores, so it is rolling out better signposting, with new parcel barkers to flag it up with consumers.

The five red wine parcels, which will be available from 9 November, include a Barone Ricasoli Brolio 2013 Chianti Classico Riserva Tuscany (£24.99), Bersano Nivasco 2010 Barolo (RRPL: 21.99) and a Recchia 2011 A,arone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva, Veneto (RRP: £35.99).

“We’ve taken space out of Italy and added in space to put in parcels and WIGIG (‘When it’s gone, it’s gone’) lines,” she explained.

Italy

The parcel wines are part of a wider boost of the Italian portfolio, which has seen the addition of a selection of Sicilian wines.

Waitrose had seen “phenomenal” growth in the category, Elener pointed out, rising 11.7%, with market share rising 4.5% in the last three years, and there was an opportunity to take the next step with wine parcels as the retailer was not “reliant on EDLP or Pinot Grigio”.

Following last year’s success with Puglia, this year Elener has concentrated on Sicily, which she said offered great diversity and produced volumes similar to those of the whole of South Africa, but was “badly underrepresented” in the UK.

“I spent a week in Sicily, visiting producers and trying to understand which are the varietal shining stars and those that produce the best of Sicily,” she said, adding that country has developed immeasurably from where it was ten years ago, when there was a lot of bulk entry wines and the whites bordered on the “awkward” towards the end of the vintage.

“The Corbello Catarratto Inzolia (RRP: £7.99) is all about easy-drinking, consumer friendly wines, and the hustle, bustle and vibe of Sicily, while the DOC Rapitala Grillo (£8.99) comes from high vineyards with lower yields and is definitely a more premium, peachy with lovely elegance and freshness.”

It has also added two easy drinking, mid-tier Nero D’Avolas from Corbello and Rapitala and a premium Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, Donnafugata Angheli 2012 (RRP: £22.99), which she described as a “’Super Silician’” that grasps the top of the Sicilian range” and which is available exclusively online.

“It is difficult to maintain Italy and we need to push it”, she said. “We did Gavi and Pecorino and those have done very well, but we want to lead the way.”

Other wines added this Autumn include six new Burgundies, a Beaujolais, Albert Bischot Les Rochegres 2014 Moulin-a-Vent (RRP: £24.99), a Moldovan red blend of indigenous varieties, three wines from New Zealand and an own label Californian Chardonnay.

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