Howard-Sneyd: Take poor quality Sauvignon out of the market

New Zealand producers should “take poor quality Sauvignon out of the market” or they risk bringing the whole industry down, according to wine consultant Justin Howard-Sneyd MW.

Wine consultant Justin Howard-Sneyd MW has urged New Zealand producers to take poor quality Sauvignon Blanc out of the market in order to preserve its distinctiveness

Speaking during the second International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration in Marlborough last month, Howard-Sneyd MW told the New Zealand winemakers in attendance:

“Don’t be tempted by short-term financial gain. Take poor quality Sauvignon out of the market, as if it tastes bad it will bring the whole industry down. Supply bulk wine to people you really trust, and don’t let supply exceed demand.

“As soon as there’s a glut as a wine buyer you smell blood under the water and can start playing producers off against each other. Open up in new markets rather than discounting in established markets. Going big in the US really helped in 2008 during the last Sauvignon glut”.

He went on to warn that New Zealand Sauvignon was in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. “Selling New Zealand wine on promotion in the UK is a problem – 65% of all NZ wine sold in Britain is on promotion, which is an alarming figure.

“More New Zealand wine is being sold in bulk to the UK, which is worrying, as there are concerns over the quality of the wine being sold. Own-label supermarket brands are on the rise, which is a concern as it’s leading to a loss of ownership and control for NZ wineries.”

On a more positive note, Howard-Sneyd MW said that New Zealand wine is attracting both affluent consumers and a new generation of drinkers in the UK, particularly due to Kiwi Sauvignon’s refreshing, thirst-quenching character.

“People like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc because it has flavour intensity, purity, and a mouth-watering capability. With its grapefruit, passion fruit, bell pepper and herbal notes, it’s highly distinctive – everyone can recognise it.

“It would be dangerous if New Zealand Sauvignon starts to lose its distinctiveness due to increasing yields. The inconsistency in quality and style will erode clarity. It will take a long time for New Zealand to lose its brand equity, but if you lose it you’ll never get it back.

“The size of Marlborough and the amount of future Sauvignon plantings in the pipeline is a concern. You need to look after your soils in order to preserve the distinctive flavour of Marlborough Sauvignon and protect its quality,” he said.

He went on to suggest that the best way forward for New Zealand Sauvignon was the premiumisation route. “Premiumisation within the New Zealand Sauvignon category is key through oaked and aged expressions, as producers need to get consumers to trade up.

“The likes of Dog Point, Pegasus Bay and Greywacke don’t fit the mold of the traditional Marlborough Sauvignon style, but there are consumers who typically spend £15 or over on a bottle of wine that will be happy for that explosion of experimentation within the category, as they are looking for interesting and unusual wines,” Howard-Sneyd said.

5 Responses to “Howard-Sneyd: Take poor quality Sauvignon out of the market”

  1. Charles Crawfurd says:

    Justin of course right but unless there is an intervention scheme to buy up sub standard wines it won’t work

  2. Mike Hall says:

    I agree, poor quality Sauvignon Blanc will kill the Golden Goose eventually

  3. Allen Murphey says:

    First of all, eradicating sub-par wines from any wine growing region in the world is a fool’s errand. Growers and/or producers rarely use every grape they grow. The bulk grape/juice business is huge, and as long as there are supermarket chains and big box stores wanting their own brands, the demand seems to be endless. While Co-op producers are very capable of producing great wines, they are equally astute at producing cheap custom labels.

    Consumers, for the most part, buy indiscriminately. They focus on what they will spend and that the label is attractive to them, contents not withstanding. If you want to change the demand for sub-par wines, stress to your customers the importance of family owned, independently produced wines. Educate them on deciphering the fine print of a wine label. Is the wine bottled by, or bottled for the name on the label. Is the wine produced and bottled by, or produced and bottled for the name on the label. It is not a difficult exercise. Who knows, you may even learn a little French, Italian or Spanish along the way.

  4. Brian Chatterton says:

    Not so sure about the fool’s errand. They do it quite successfully in France where they apply it to their protected names. It does not eliminate the poor wine but it cannot be called Cahor for example. The same could be applied to the Marlborough name. Having attended the tasting panel myself the decisions are usually unanimous. The panel consists of all the local winemakers tasting the masked wines. It does not award medals or points which as we all know are subjective but just the “unacceptable” grade.

  5. mark semmens says:

    Having recently returned from a six week self driving tour of 10 southwestern USA states and noting several dozen varying retail combined NZ/AUS.wine displays, it was disconcerting to see the dominant New Zealand price pointing to be sub.single digit, yes ,mostly for SB ,and of course, the exchange rate, plays here, nevertheless less, it’s a dive to the bottom.
    The yellowtail lead has something to say about that. I noticed young dollies grabbing, unhesitatingly, those bottles, as do the Syd/Melb. sidewalk birdies down here .Prosecco! can you save us? The noticeable winning direction being mid-ranged ubiquitous labels, seen frequently, i.e. 19 crimes and many others. It seems, even at the bottom of the pool, tight margins on a million bottles is still too desirable for the top shelf labels, not to dive into. i believe I have an answer, insurance wise, for the two hundred million bottle annual production of NZSB to its
    93 country export markets, to be presented in the near nebulous future.

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