Kiwi whites have sat atop the UK’s top-sellers list for over a decade, and although its demise has been often hinted at, there seems very little sign that Brits will be kicking their Sauvignon Blanc habit anytime soon. However, that doesn’t mean that any of us should be feeling New Zealand-fatigue, according to Majestic Buyer Beth Pearce MW.
In an average week at Majestic, the UK’s number one specialist, the business sells one bottle of wine from NZ for every bottle sold from America, Australia and South America put together. So with such an edge over their New World rivals, how did Beth approach a range review for a category which has already proven so popular, for so long.
“New Zealand has been a firm Majestic customer favourite for over a decade. Our top-seller list is dominated by Marlborough Sauvignon. So the key challenge is how we help customers understand the nuances available, allow them to explore the breadth and terroirs of New Zealand – and even to discover new regions, or subregions, producing different styles or grapes even within Marlborough and beyond.” she explains.
The key to encouraging customers to branch out, according to Beth, is to look at the variety of smaller regions now on offer, and to go beyond the ‘well known Sauvignon styles’. Majestic is therefore increasing the number of subregions it sells, including the valleys of Awatere, Wairau, and coastal sites for more saline examples (such as Dillon’s Point). They will also be stocking more oaked examples, alongside lower alcohol and organic Sauvignons.
Grapes which it believes may also tempt even the most devoted Sauvignon-sippers include Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Gris and Albariño – the latter of which Majestic already buyers producer Waimea’s full production of.
“For millions of wine drinkers in this country, New Zealand Sauvignon remains their absolute go-to wine. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for those who have been buying the category for years, they’re beginning to think ‘okay – what else can I try?’. Historically, we’ve pointed these customers back towards France, but there are so many brilliant Kiwi options they could also look to explore, new grapes or regions or styles. I wanted a range at Majestic which really helped them to do that, listened to their queries and provided bottle shaped answers”.
A key part of the new strategy is working closely with new suppliers, and building on some of the brand success stories over recent times.
Alongside the move to secure up the Sauvignon-base, Majestic is also expanding its offer of New Zealand Chardonnay, and introducing a number of red wines to the category which have been lost to the range in recent years.
“New Zealand is such an interesting country to work with. Unlike many Old World regions, customers who love Sauvignon Blanc don’t really trade into the reds. There’s very little crossover. But for me, it’s about saying to someone that you love their whites, so try their reds. It’s about showcasing the country’s global prowess and uniqueness in its own right, and attracting a wider audience for grapes like Syrah and Cabernet from across the spectrum. It’s an exciting challenge, and one I hope customers take on!”.
Wines to try:
Devil’s Creek Barrel Select Sauvignon
£8.99 Mix Six
Fincher & Co. Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Awatere Valley
£12.99 Mix Six
Mt. Difficulty ‘Roaring Meg’ Pinot Gris 2019, Central Otago
£12.99 Mix Six