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Concha y Toro goes after greater share of the UK’s most valuable variety

Published:  30 March, 2022

Casillero del Diablo, Concha y Toro’s (CyT) flagship brand, is looking to nab a greater share of the Sauvignon Blanc pie with the launch of a premium coastal wine from Colchagua’s Ucuquer vineyard.

Sauvignon Blanc is the UK’s most valuable grape variety, worth almost £1 billion in retail sales in the year to January 2022 (Nielsen).

Hoping to capitalise on this trend – and plug the gap left by New Zealand’s 2021 harvest shortfall – is Casillero del Diablo's newest addition to its Reserva Especial range – the first new wine launched by the brand since its Spanish Tempranillo a year ago.

CyT already has its Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, the UK’s the biggest-selling Sauvignon Blanc outside New Zealand.

Now, the brand is looking to increase its footprint in the category, which is worth £440m more than the next biggest white varietal, Pinot Grigio (worth £534), and £600 more than the UK’s biggest red variety, Malbec (£380m, Nielsen).

Jack Cole, category and insights manager at CyT, said: “Many countries produce Sauvignon Blanc, but New Zealand is still by far the largest in terms of presence. It’s worth £488m – 50% of white Sauvignon Blanc sold in the UK. However, because of the harvest challenges we’ve seen in the last year, it is in decline. Whereas the other top origins from the New World – Chile, South Africa and Australia – have seen growth.”

Chile is well-placed to plug this shortfall.

Sauvignon Blanc is the second most planted grape variety (15%) in Chile, behind Cabernet Sauvignon (35%, CyT figures).

Research also showed that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc purchasers are looking most to Chile as a secondary source of Sauvignon Blanc, followed by South Africa, Australia and France (see graph), as consumers are increasingly swayed by grape rather than country of origin.

Despite this, CyT has made its case for why Chile should be considered a reliable source of premium Sauvignon Blanc.

At Monday’s online product launch, Javiera Moller, brand manager at CyT, said Chile has “Perfect weather for grape growing and ripening, with cooling influence from the Pacific on the west and mountains to the east”.

“It’s genuinely on the cusp of many interesting styles,” added host Alistair Cooper. “Chile has always been very strong in commercial sales. But the growth in more niche and contemporary styles has been spectacular. Twenty years ago, most of the Sauvignon there wasn’t even Sauvignon Blanc, it was Sauvignonasse. In those 20 years, we’ve gone from these non-Sauvignons to seeing a true identity of regionality and terroir. Chile is really producing its own style.”

Until now, Chile has pinned its colours to the Sauvignon Blanc mast with the rise of Leyda and San Antonio. However, CyT is now looking to the Colchagua Costa area for its Especial launch – an area which sits close to the Rapel River and delta which flows into the Pacific.

“So you have a very direct influence of the breezes of the Pacific Ocean, though it’s not as foggy as Casablanca, for instance,” winemaker Max Weinlaub said. “There is more sunlight too, and more hours of sun exposure.”

Casillero del Diablo Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc is available now, with listings firmed up at Tesco and Occado (RRP £9).