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LWF: Innovation theme spills outwards with new product launches

Published:  24 May, 2018

As an event for striking new deals and making new relationships, it is unsurprising that the London Wine Fair has become one of the major launchpads for new product development, with producers and importers using the fair as a stage on which to show off what they have been working hard on throughout the year.

This was even more pertinent with the focus on innovation at this year’s fair, with producers from Léoube in Provence to Nyetimber in Sussex all hoping to entice buyers with NPD.

Nyetimber made a notable addition to this year’s fair with its distinctive green Routemaster, which was once again part of the Olympia skyline after a one-year break.

The West Sussex company was also there to preview, among other things, an under the counter single vineyard from its prestigious Tillington plot.

The 2013 single vintage is the second from this 32 ha vineyard, which makes up around 15% of Nyetimber’s total surface area under vine.

Nyetimber has thus far focused its single vintage wines from this specific plot, which according to national account manager Anna Wilkie, has been singled out for its “particular fruit characteristics of Pinot Noir”.

The 2013 release is a follow-up to the 2010 vintage from Tillington, and is due to be released in next two weeks.

Over at EWGA’s stall, the supplier was focusing on plugging a gap in its Argentinian portfolio for entry level Malbec.

The distributor has grown from its base in the southwest to offer distribution nationwide, with a portfolio that spans entry level to premium in most categories.

La Bonita from Argentina draws the eye with a colourful label inspired by the street artists in the neighbourhood of La Boca.

“We do lot from Chile,” said sales director Janette McLaughlin. “But Argentina is growing and, and at £5.65 plus VAT, La Bonita will make a nice counterpart to our Tapiz winery in Mendoza, which is more premium.”

Léoube meanwhile was notable for its eye-catching range of rosé labels.

The Provence producer is now part of Waddeson Wine having parted ways with Bibendum in October.

Export sales manager Alex Ferrand told Harpers the company is now looking to increase its presence in the UK by focusing on parts of its range which were not brought in by Bibendum.

These are the entry level Love by Léoube and premium La Londe, both of which bookend a range which stand out for its visual appeal and easy drinking styles.

Last but not least, Champagne Castelnau also discussed their new Hors Categorie – a blend of the 2010 and 2011 vintages.

The blend is the second of its kind.

The first was released two years ago in a 3500 bottle run as part of the company’s focus on building the Castelnau name by exploring new segments of the market.

General manager Pascal Prudhomme explained: “We decided to re-launch Castelnau ten years ago, when we realised there was not much knowledge of brand. We knew we could build our credibility with our quality in existing markets like France and the UK but also new markets like Japan, New Zealand, the US and Australia.

“Now, our job is to drive visibility with new product development like Hors Categorie and also our partnership with the Tour de France which began in 2012.”

The launch also marks a move away from a focus on single vintages, with innovation coming as necessity from “stressful harvests” in 2016 and 2017.

“In the 2000s, we had vintages for all years. But because of the difficulties recently with harvest for us and the Champagne region, we made the decision to focus on quality rather than vintages,” Prudhomme concluded.