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Spanish winery Abadia Retuerta returns to UK with Enotria

Published:  11 March, 2015

Spanish winery Abadia Retuerta is looking to boost its UK exports, after signing an exclusive distribution deal with Enotria.

The winery, which lies just outside the DO boundary in Ribera del Duero, was previously distributed by Liberty Wines, but withdrew from the UK market in early 2013 to concentrate on developing a more premium portfolio.

Currently, around 50% of production is sold into the domestic Spanish market but Enrique Valero, director general de Abadía Retuerta, is keen to build its export business.

He told Harpers he had been looking to re-enter the UK market with an importer who understood the premium sector and had the financial muscle to reach top retailers and restaurants. However, he said he was not interested in volume sales - the brand's best-selling red blend Rivola was stripped out of the portfolio in 2013 as part of its push to premium.

"We reduced the total production to what the vineyard can deliver, and we produce around 35-50k cases a year maximum. With the current structure of sales, we can cover the key markets for premium wine," he said. "The UK market is key for us because it is still the number one market."

The wines will primarily target the UK on-trade, but Valero said off-trade was important in the UK and would account for around 20% of sales, although distribution would be limited.

Valero also said there was also an opportunity for the brand online. "It is a brand that has a halo effect as we are well-known by connoisseurs and they know we are not a new player in the UK," he said.

Abadia Retuerta was previously stocked in high end retailers, including Fortnums & Mason, Selfridge, Harrods, and Justerini & Brooks.

Enotria will distribute six wines: Le Domaine Blanco, a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo that was launched in 2012, its flagship red blend, Selección Especial and four single vineyard wines comprising a Tempranillo, Pago Negralada, a Syrah, Pago Garduña, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Pago Valdebellón, and a Petit Verdot.

Abadia Retuerta Abadia Retuerta

Valero, who is on the executive committee of the Grandes Pagos de España, said premium Spanish wines needed to boost their image. "The main issue for Spain is to talk about premium wine - we have super premium wines and vineyards and we have to talk about them. Spain is not only about cheap bulk and commodity wines," he said. "It is also not just about Rioja." Smaller wineries did not have the resources to communicate their message, he added and needed to work together to find a new route to market at the right price and in the right place, particularly through the Vino de Pago classification system. .

The winery, which lies just outside the Ribera del Duero DO, is set to join the pago classification system which recognises premium terroirs later this year, when Castilla y León receives its official approval.

The company is owned by Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Novartis.