By Andrew Catchpole on Harpers.co.uk
Published: 22 November, 2018
Prominent South African winemaker Bruce Jack officially launched his new eponymous wine range yesterday at High Timber restaurant in London.
Presenting a two-tier range, with an entry level aimed at supermarket shelves and reserve wines targeted at independents and on-trade, Jack described the brand as being “based on a central theme, a central idea and a central message”.
“The reason this brand is going to be different is because of the collaboration with others in the industry,” said Jack, referring to partnerships with other growers and winemakers in South Africa, adding, “I want to take wines to consumers in the way Top Gear talks to consumers about cars,” to make it accessible for all.
The launch from the ex-Flagstone label creator and Accolade (Kumala) winemaker could be a significant step for the broader South African industry, creating a strong, quality-focused brand, backed by the personality of one of The Cape’s leading (unofficial) ambassadors for its wines.
A selection of the entry-level wines, delivering good value at £7, have so far gained a listing at Sainsbury’s. Jack said that his prime ambition, though, was to get the reserve wines (priced at around £25 to £30 retail) listed with premium on-trade outlets, where South Africa needs to boost its image and acceptance, and to build this globally.
On global uptake, he added that China had so far been “most gregarious for this brand in terms of enthusiasm”. Nonetheless, and doubtless mindful of the British audience at the launch, Jack described the UK as the “crucible of the wine world, the sharp end, the cutting edge”, suggesting that recognition in this market is crucial for wider South African success.
Quipping that “lots of people are interested in wine, and no one is making any money”, Jack outlined how, over the period 2000 to 2017, OIV figures showed the average price per bottle for all wine exported from all producing countries had moved little, rising by just 27% in over a decade and a half.
However, the volumes of wine exported in that same period “has increased by 300%” said Jack, also highlighting an increase of foreign visitors to the Prowein trade fair over the same period as rising from 12% to over 50%.
Citing evolution in other industries and sectors, Jack suggested that wine is “a disruption waiting to happen”, with opportunities for wine brands that can communicate in different and engaging ways, not least to reach millennials and generation Z.
“I want to do exciting stuff to this brand, stuff that’s out of the box,” said Jack.