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WineGB launches new ‘classic method’ campaign

Wines of Great Britain has unveiled a new trade campaign which will seek to communicate, define and promote the qualities of classic/traditional method sparkling wine made in the UK.

The new Great British Classic Method hallmark.

The campaign refers to wines made in England and Wales using the traditional method as ‘classic method’.

Called the Great British Classic Method, the initiative will take the form of an integrated sampling campaign for the trade press, educational masterclasses and social media output, as well as the introduction of a ‘hallmark’. The ‘hallmark’, pictured, can be added to English and Welsh PDO wines to indicate which wines have been made using the ‘classic method’.

In a webinar this morning, Julia Trustram-Eve, head of marketing at WineGB, explained that the organisation began work on the campaign 18 months ago.

She said that after consultation with WineGB members, it was clear that they did not want to give a specific name to English/Welsh sparkling wine, but rather work to differentiate it and present it as the flagship sparkling wine offering in England and Wales

“We want to use the halo from classic method sparkling wine to have a positive knock-on effect on all other styles of wines, including the dynamic developments in still wines and on the industry as a whole,” she said.

“We believe this is key to maintaining a price premium for what we now know as classic method wines, and also it is a key element in achieving our overall industry vision which is to establish Great Britain as a sustainable wine region of world renown, recognised and celebrated for the quality of its wines and visitor experiences.”

Sarah Abbott MW founder of marketing consultancy Swirl Wine Group, who along with branding agency The Collaborators, has been working with WineGB on the project, said: “We were looking for a way to positively differentiate the classic method sparkling wines of England and Wales. The members had already decided they didn’t want to contrive a name, yet we need to find a way to communicate about these wines, because the number of wines from Great Britain is rapidly expanding.

“This includes the sparkling wine sector, and we have some really good producers working with non-traditional method sparkling wines, which is fine. We absolutely embrace the full diversity of styles. But we can’t keep marketing this slightly chippy ‘we’re nearly as good as Champagne or we’re better than Champagne’ angle.”

Abbott talked about the need to speak about the “distinct British style” of the sparkling wines being made in England and Wales.

“The wines have this nerviness, with very high acidity, hedgerow-freshness and a very gradual, slow ripening season,” she said. “Producers still work on an absolute knife-edge in terms of ripeness. However, now we are starting to see some regional nuances. As well as the potential of chalk soils, there are some great wines being made on greensand – the fruit character in particular is often different.

“We’re also starting to see what can happen with our style when it ages. We’re not Champagne wannabes: we’re seeing the emergence of our own paradigm and style.”

Classic method sparkling wine accounts for around two-thirds of production in the UK. WineGB hopes to engage with the trade to help differentiate the category, with 30 producers of all sizes initially signed up for the sampling scheme.

Abbott explained that WineGB was set to launch its first sampling and collective marketing campaign, which she hopes will express the diversity of styles within the classic method category.

Cases featuring wines from the 30 producers will be sent out to the trade press from next week, while two virtual masterclasses will be held in November. The first wine bearing the new hallmark will also be released next month in the form of a new sparkler from Hush Heath in Kent.

The introduction of the hallmark comes ahead of a review due to be conducted of the current PDO and PGI regulations, that stipulate rules such as the minimum ageing requires for traditional/ classic method sparkling.

“There’s a strong desire in the membership to look at these rules again as currently they’re a legacy of when they were set up,” Abbott said.

WineGB’s Chairman, Simon Robinson, added: “We have long recognised the need to positively differentiate and protect our flagship category – wines produced from the classic method. This is the hero style that has put Great Britain on the wine map and led us to more extraordinarily exciting developments in our industry. We now boast a broad range of diverse and high-quality wines in all styles.

“Our sparkling wines however remain at the forefront of our industry and are driving sales both here and overseas. This campaign has set us on the path to ensure that our classic method wines are more positively recognized among the finest wine regions of the world.”

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