Waitrose launches experimental range promoting lesser-known grapes

Waitrose is pushing the boundaries with the launch of a new own-label range, the ‘W’ range, of lesser-known grape varieties that will retail for under £10.

Launching in store from 17th June, the 9-strong range comprises four reds; a Marselan IGP Méditerrané, (RRP: £6.99), a Pais from Chile (RRP: £7.99), a Cannonau di Sardegna (RRP: £8.99) and a Mencia from Bierzo, Spain (RRP: £9.99); three whites; an Elbling from Germany (RRP: £6.99), an Arinto from Lisbon, Portugal (RRP: £7.99) and a Petit Manseng from Juraçon in France (RRP’ £9.99); one rosé Zweigelt from Niederösterreich in Austria (RRP: £8.99); and a sparkling Pecorino (RRP: £8.99).

A survey by the retailer showed that around 78% of people had not heard of the nine new wines, and Waitrose & Partners wine buying manager James Bone told db the idea was to push the boundaries with lesser-known varieties that had the potential to be popular in the future.

“Our Blue Print range is all about the classic regions and styles, and “W” is the polar opposite, it’s about lesser-know varieties that have the potential to be popular in the future ” he said.

Speaking to db at yesterday’s press tasting, Bone said the idea has been in the pipeline for a few years, and had been a huge team effort, involving honing the concept and conducting research, whittling down a shortlist of varieties, finding suppliers and producers and working on the technical standard before robustly peer-reviewing all the wines in order to ensure the varieties chosen represented what the team wanted the range to be, and selecting the final range.

“The ‘W’ range has been a whole team effort, with a great deal of care and effort being placed on selecting the wines we think our customers will find really exciting,” he said. “We want this range to inspire and encourage our shoppers to experiment even further with their wine choices and try something they’ve never heard of or tried before.“

He added that there had been many varieties in the running, but it was crucial that the not only were the grape varieties interesting and had potential to grow, but that the wines themselves were “fantastic” and good value for money, fitting into the £7-£10 price bracket in order to appeal to a wider audience.

He added that the range was likely to evolve over time, and some of the varieties that hadn’t made the original nine could potentially be added in future.

“We will see how it goes, some will be successful, some maybe less so, and it will be an evolving range,” he said.”Some that didn’t make the cut might be considered in future.”

The range, which will be launched in 202 branches, rolling out from 17 June, will be merchandised together in a special display unit so that they don’t get ‘lost’ on shelf, which the planning team has found space for in store without cutting the range, Bone said.

Own label currently makes up a “small but important” part of the Waitrose range, accounting for around 12-15% of sales, Bone said.


One Response to “Waitrose launches experimental range promoting lesser-known grapes”

  1. Penny Perry says:

    Pleased to say as an Independent Wine Merchant
    we already stock most of those grape varieties Waitrose are
    launching. Just goes to show being a Wine Merchant does go a long way being ahead of the game

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