Chat show host Graham Norton’s wine brand has launched in two of the US and UK’s largest retailers as it eyes up sales of 1.5 million bottles.
The Irish chat show and comedian host, who launched his own brand wine, GN, in 2014, has seen bottles of his Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc go on shelf in the UK’s largest retailer Tesco and Kroger in the US, from this month.
Norton teamed up with New Zealand wine producers Invivo to launch the brand, and is personally involved in selecting the blend from tank samples alongside Invivo’s founders and winemakers, Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron.
The wine is now available in six countries worldwide, and claims to be one of the fastest-growing wine brands.
Production on the first GN vintage, a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, was limited to around 12,000 bottles, but is set to sell around 1.5 million bottles this year, the team said.
James Davis MW at Tesco said he was delighted to be adding the GN Sauvignon Blanc to the retailer’s portfolio. “We are always looking for interesting wines at an affordable price point that will surprise and delight our customers, and this does just that. Many of our customers will be familiar with Graham Norton and will be keen to try his wine.”
Terry Creaturo, wine buyer at Kroger added that he particularly liked the brand’s back story from Invivo and looked forward to its customers trying the wine.
The brand launched in the US in February, and is imported by Seaview, which has national coverage. The brand set to go out to key US states in both retail and on-premise, it said.
Lightbourne said the company liked to do things differently, noting its successful wine equity crowdfunding campaign and its work with Graham, which involves filming the selection process for each vintage so that customers are able to see his involvement.
“We wanted him be more involved than just a name on the label,” Lightbourne explained. “For the first vintage, we personally transported Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Marlborough to London to be stomped by the man himself on the set of his show, and last year Graham expertly blended the wine himself in Bantry Ireland for the 2016 vintage. We’ve always got him involved in the wine making in a fun way.”
Norton described his award-winning Sauvignon Blanc as an “easy drinking” affordable wine with “all the grassiness and zest you expect from a new world Sauvignon Blanc – but I like to think it has a bit of an old world finish.”
Since the launch of the Sauvignon Blanc, two other wines have also been added to the range, a Shiraz made from a blend of grapes from South Australia’s Barossa Valley and Langhorne Creek, and a rosé made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris gapes from Hawkes Bay and Marlborough.
Last month the GN brand was listed by UK drinks supplier Conviviality and became available to the on-trade through Matthew Clarke and to the multiple retailers through PLB. It also listed the Invivo brand, which is available to the independent retailers and regional wholesalers through Walker Wodehouse.