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Vinho Verde wines gaining traction in the UK market

Published:  07 April, 2016

Vinho Verde wines are gaining traction in the UK and at yesterday's annual Vinho Verde tasting where 27 producers were showcasing over 130 wines from one of Portugal's more recognised regions, they are looking to grow their UK market share.

"Vinho Verde wines are doing very well.  We have been investing in the UK market since 2011 and exports have been continually increasing," said Bárbara Roseira, product manager of Comissão de Viticultura da Região dos Vinhos Verdes, the representative body of the region.

Particularly leading into Spring and Summer months, Vinho Verde producers and the region body do a much more focused push in the UK. "We sees massive peaks in the summer and that is when we do our big marketing push from April- September," said Roseira.

For Luís Botelho Cameira from Casa do Valle, which is currently seeking distribution in the UK, the timing seems to be right to begin to look at entering the UK market.

He said: "The UK is a very important market. We export 95% of our production and we are now looking to export to the UK. We produce about 250,000 cases. In the 1980s Vinho Verde did not have the best reputation; it was associated with being really low-priced wine. We saw resistance in the UK market to pay a higher price for it. Into the 90s and early 2000s there seemed to be a preference in style for bigger wines. That is not our tradition and we can't change who we are."

The region is becoming synonymous with light and aromatic white wine styles which has helped with growth according to Roseira. She said: "Our goal is to promote the brand of Vinho Verde region and to let people know what we are about. We produce wines that are fresh, light and aromatic and they pair really well with all foods.  They are very versatile which is an advantage for us."

But Cameira pointed out that having a distinct style is both a blessing and a curse for some producers like Casa do Valle.

"Having a common style that is a bit like having a brand, which is good to help open up a market.  It is something that can get you in.  When consumers see what you can do you can then hopefully get them to explore other wines that we produce. We have many smaller producers in the region that produce higher-end wines.  It is hard though because then consumers may not think about the quality and trading up on price."

Danny Cameron, a director of Raymond Reynolds, a Portuguese wine supplier agrees the style of lighter wines has helped, but it is important to explain the diversity of the region as well.

He said: "Portugal is our flesh and blood and we have been a Portuguese specialist for 25 years. This year we posted record turnover. They are producing high quality, beautifully made wines. I think it is diverse but naturally these are lower ABV wines that express minerality and have a sense of place. We don't sell Vinho Verde in the 'typical style'. Vinho Verde is an incredibly diverse region; we sell sparkling wines from the region through to extremely dry white wines."

But for Chris Appleby, of Sogrape UK, having wines that are easily approachable is key to getting consumers into the category and what is helping to drive growth. "Vinho Verde is an easy region to pronounce and it is producing wines that people like. The crisp, fresh floral whites, generally have mass appeal for consumers and Portugal can build on that. We are now at point where we are experience good consistent growth."