The Co-op expands and relaunches its premium wine range
UK convenience retail The Co-op has relaunched its premium ‘Irresistible’ wine range, with a new logo and branding to give better stand-out on shelf, adding a selection of “esoteric” wines including the retailer’s first Swiss wine, a Chilean País from 130 year-old-bush vines and a Sauvignon Blanc Blush.
Speaking at a press launch of the range last night, The Co-op’s commercial buying manager Joe Turner said that since the premium range had launched ten years ago, customer circumstances had changed. Over the last two years, the retailer has embarked on a detailed look at how best to cater for its customers in these post-pandemic, inflationary times and what the range should look like going forward.
“Their needs have changed and we need to respond to that,” Turner said. He argued that the wall of wine could be complicated for customers to navigate and the relaunch of the Irresistible range with its more distinctive ‘Irresistible’ gold crest would help address that by making the premium own label range easier to find on shelf – as well as providing a “stage for the producers we’re proud to work with”.
“From feedback it was unclear where the premium range was on shelf,” he said. “Households are still struggling and we’re are aware of that – we see customers buying less but buying better, less often but better wine to replicate that dining experience at home. They’re moving back to own label, our premium Co-op own label offer, as a total, is up 9% so far this year, versus the previous year. So with all of that in mind, it does feel like a good time to relaunch the Irresistible range.”
He added that the Co-op “fiercely believe” that convenience shopping shouldn’t mean compromising on either quality or range and the team were proud to work with the producers and winemakers from around the world ” from Paul Mas in France to Vina Indomita in Chile and Hush Heath in our own back yard.”
Initially, four new wines are being added to the existing 24-strong range, including the retailer’s first ever Swiss wine, La Courbe (RRP: £10) from Les Celliers de Vetroz in the Canton of Valais, a País from 130 year old bush vines in Itata (RRP: £8), a delicate, pale pink Sauvignon Blanc Blush wine from Vivianna Navarette’s in Chile’s Leyda Valley (RRP: £8) and the range’s first Cabernet Sauvignon from Chilean producer Vina Indomita (RRP: £8). A further five or seven (tbc) are expected to be rolled out before Christmas.
Looking at the wines in greater detail, wine buyer Sarah Benson described the País as “quirky” and fresh, with herbal, almost medicinal notes that was incredibly good value at only £8, considering the average age of the old bush vines were 130 years old.
“This is something I think Chile can be really proud of – this is not another Cabernet that anywhere in the world can do, this is something uniquely Chilean,” she said.
The Co-op is working with six growers on a two-hectare parcels to provide a route to market for something that normally is just drunk with families. Historically, producers concentrating on big Cabernets and Merlots for the international market and did not think about exporting their table wine, or how to share it with the world, she said. As a result, the Co-op team worked with around 900 of its members on zoom to build a wine that would appeal to consumers and build understanding among its members.
The wine is a blend of 85% País and 15% Pinot Noir, which Benson said helped to soften some of the wilder tannins of the indigenous grape. The first trial was a blend of 50% País and 50% Pinot Noir, however Benson persuaded them to be braver and not settle for something that was more of a a Pinot Noir blend. “They were nervous people wouldn’t buy it, but if it is too much Pinot Noir, you lose the wild País flavour,” she told db.
The grapes come from a parcel of 2 hectares of old bush vines, which are subject to 30% carbonic maceration and stainless steel. “It has that really jammy whole bunch character, really lifted and fresh – its’ all about celebrating the aroma so no oak.”
This tapped into consumer demand for a more “sessionable” wine, she said.
The Pais will be rolled into around 700 of the estate’s more premium stores, which Benson described as “chunky distribution”.
Chile was a big winner following the shortage of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in 2021 – and this boost had not dipped since the return or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, she said, with customers enjoying the leaner, grassier style.
The Blush Sauvignon Blanc by twice-crowned Chilean winemaker of the year Viviana Navarette taps into the popularity of this style of Sauvignon Blanc as well as catering for the rise of pale rosé wine styles, Benson noted. The Sauvignon Blanc Blush has been blended with 5% Pinot Noir from Casablanca, adding a hint of crisp red berry fruit.
Rosé outperformed red and white wine at The Co-op this year, Benson said, becoming one of the biggest performer at Christmas. “I’s not just a Summer drink anymore,” she said.
Meanwhile buyer Ben Cahill described the La Courbe as “like a Swiss Beajolais”, a light easy drinking “bonkers blend” of Pinot Noir and Gamaret (a distant cousin of Pinot Noir that shares many of its qualities, but has thicker skins, is less fickle, and is easier to grow), that goes well with beef bourguignon or cheese dishes.