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NZ 200th anniversary focus turns to regionality after bumper UK year

Published:  17 January, 2019

The annual New Zealand trade tasting pushed a new focus on regionality at this year’s London event on 16 January, with the aim of furthering understanding of the country’s diversity of wine styles with restaurants and independent merchants.

Coming off the back of a bumper year, with NZ value exports to the UK to November 2018 topping the NZ$400 million mark (£209 million) for the first time, New Zealand Winegrowers’ European marketing manager Chris Stroud said that the aim is to broaden perception of the country’s offer.

“We are focusing on each region to give more depth on each region, exploring how to deliver depth on a list for the trade, not just getting different styles out there,” said Stroud, who also highlighted that this is New Year’s 200th anniversary since the first vines went in the ground.

Stroud added that this year’s focus on regionality, which followed a focus on the breadth of varieties last year, would help equip sommeliers and independent merchants with a greater understanding of the differences in both flagship grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, plus the many other ‘emerging’ varieties from NZ shores.

The well attended ‘Flavours of New Zealand’ tasting, as this year’s event was dubbed, included educational flights such as Northland Wine Regions, highlighting NZs most northerly winegrowing area, and a SOMMIT sommelier’s Sauvignon selection, with on-trade friendly wines chosen by sommeliers that have been part of the sommelier scholarship initiative launched by NZ Winegrowers last year.

New Zealand as a category is enjoying strong growth in the UK, with figures revealing 7% value growth in the UK off-trade (and 22% volume growth) and 10% value growth in the on-trade in 2018 (Nielsen and CGA to November 2018), with Sauvignon Blanc being the number one grape variety, holding over 14% of the light wine market share.

“New Zealand and Italy are the only countries in growth in the on-trade, and Italy [figures] include Prosecco,” said Stroud.

Two centuries of winemaking will be crowned by the latest in the series of International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration in Marlborough this January, with a concerted push on linking wine and tourism also being rolled out, with advice to winemakers as to how best capitalise on tourism a key part of the initiative.