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Portuguese wine sales soar at Majestic

Published:  20 March, 2018

Sales of Portuguese wine at Majestic soared in the past year driven by indigenous grapes.

The retailer said it had seen a 56% hike in year-on-year value sales, which it contributed to “inflation-defying prices, huge diversity and a growing pedigree for local grape varieties”.

The combined factors were “feeding an endless appetite for Portuguese wine in the UK”, with sales defying all expectations, said Joe Aylmer, Portugal buyer, Majestic.

“Portugal has for some time been a little bewildering to the casual drinker - but it’s such an exciting country to explore and discover that wine lovers are taking it to their hearts,” he said, adding indigenous grapes were both a blessing and a curse for producers.

“They can yield unique flavours, but have little brand recognition in the way that say Malbec, Chardonnay or regions like Chianti do. These results are showing that UK consumers are now really starting to get their heads and palettes around them,” he said.

The fact that sales weren’t driven by stereotypical expectations of the country’s output, such as Port or Mateus rosé, but by styles not usually associated with Portugal suggested the long-standing aim of Portuguese winemakers to shift perceptions were now an “unqualified success”, said Aylmer.

Under the protectionist government of the late twentieth century, Portuguese winemakers were forbidden from growing international grape varieties, which came to dominate the international market.

This apparent handicap was now proving a blessing in disguise for the region - giving it diversity and value for money, said Aylmer.

“Volumes are up, but crucially so are customer numbers - 49% more Majestic customers tried a Portuguese wine in the last year compared to the year before. It shows that Portugal is really turning a corner,” he added.

In 2017, Portugal shipped 7.5% more bottles - a value of €777.9 million, setting a new record for the country, according to Majestic.