South African Sauvignon Blanc takes on New Zealand

Monday, 12 November, 2012
Rosie Davenport, off license news
Off-Piste Wines is seeking to fill what it sees as a promotional vacuum for Sauvignon Blanc with a South African wine with a “toned down” style.
Managing director Paul Letheren said it wanted to take advantage of New Zealand’s increasingly high price tag and offer retailers a £9.99 Sauvignon Blanc under the Clear Springs name, to occupy promotional slots Kiwi producers could no longer fill at discounted price points.

He said: “New Zealand pricing is only on the up and even with a big vintage, I think there’s a huge opportunity for Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa.”

Clem Yates MW, Off-Piste’s sourcing and supply director, said: “Consumers probably don’t even understand that South Africa makes Sauvignon, but we have toned down the style so it’s much more like what new Zealand does. Everyone realises that New Zealand pricing isn’t going to go down.”

In addition to its focus on South Africa, Letheren said the company is looking to expand into new channels and countries.

He said: “When we started we were very much focused on Italy, South Africa, Chile and Australia, but we are finding now that there’s more opportunity to develop our portfolio. With Clem on board, we have a great level of expertise and supermarkets are asking us for more wines and asking what else we can do for them.

“You have to offer a great service and come up with interesting new ideas. We are a small company, and we want to keep it focused. But we also want to develop our customer base and are looking at convenience.”

Yates added: “We are making our first foray into France and we are interested in looking to develop more things there especially because France has really held its own [in the recession].”