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Gonzalez Byass committed to ‘innovative’ UK market as portfolio continues to expand

Published:  11 July, 2017

The recent release of Pazos de Lusco Albarino from Riax Baixas, marking the eighth Spanish producer in Gonzalez Byass’s growing portfolio of wineries, reflects the “growing curiosity and recognition” for Spain’s varied styles among consumers.

So says Victoria Gonzalez Gordon, great, great, grandaughter of the founder of Gonzalez Byass sherry bodegas, talking to Harpers about the regional expansion of this leading sherry producer, explaining why the company’s strategy continues to embrace DOs and styles of wine far removed from its Jerez roots.

“The Spanish wine business is changing very much, there is a taste of everything and a lot of evolution, people are looking forward, able to express more about their wines and are more aware of quality,” says Gonzalez Gordon.

“There is a big movement back to terroir, the classic DOs are moving towards this, such as Rioja, but the smaller DOs, which can be much more flexible, have already done this, so it is a very good time to be investing in Spanish wines.”

The Spanish industry has been notable for the number of leading companies that have expanded well beyond their roots to acquire a range of bodegas in premium DOs, with producers such as Torres, Araex, Felix Solis and others increasingly providing umbrella brands for ‘one stop shop’ portfolios of key wine regions.

Gonzalez Byass bought Pazos de Luscon in 2016, adding to a portfolio that continues to grow and innovate, counting such regions as Rioja, Somontano, Txakoli, Rueda, La Mancha and Catalan Cava among its varied offer, with a Vermouth also launched in 2016, following on from initiatives such as spearheading the new En Rama sherry category, which has in turn helped create a new excitement around quality sherries and the wines’ myriad styles.

The company also added a Chilean winery, Veramonte, to the fold in 2016.

Gonzalez Gordon confirmed that the company still sees the UK as a key market in terms of testing the waters for new wine styles, regions and products, and one that is increasingly open to expanding its Spanish repertoire.

“The UK market is very interesting, it’s one of those markets where things happen first, and happen fast, and it is very open for new products,” adds Gonzalez Gordon. “So it’s good for a reaction to new things, for new wines in our portfolio, or launches like our Vermouth, which has been very well received.”

Gonzalez Gordon also says that the sherry category “has changed so much”, with premium sherries continuing to grow in the UK, albeit from a small base.

“We will probably never get back to the volumes of the ‘70s, but the market is moving towards quality, from small volumes but growing well, especially with drier styles.”

“Spanish cuisine and culture is really helping us a lot, people have seen and really understand the quality of Spanish gastronomy now, and for sommeliers different styles and smaller production DOs are very important, while those DOs themselves are becoming more active [at marketing] themselves, so all of this is making a big change,” she concludes.