Speaking during a press conference at The Beautiful South tasting at Olympia last week, Jane Robertson, category development director for Accolade said: “South African whites are sexy right now. Consumers who have brought into the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc brand are now looking elsewhere for a similar style of Sauvignon at a more wallet-friendly price point and South Africa can deliver on that front.”
“The flavour profile of South African Sauvignon Blanc is similar to Marlborough Sauvignon and can be tailored to fit UK consumers’ taste preferences,” she added.
According to Accolade research, UK value sales of South African Sauvignon Blanc have doubled over the last two years.
Accolade’s chief winemaker Bruce Jack believes that there is potential for South African Sauvignon Blanc, but that the country doesn’t have its own Marlborough.
“We’re increasing plantings of Sauvignon Blanc in low yielding, cooler areas. We’ll never be able to ape Marlborough’s flavour profile as that’s soil dependent, but we can ape the mouthfeel with 6g/l of sugar and 6.5g/l of tartaric acid.
“A dash of Semillon in the blend helps with the mouthfeel along with our secret weapon, white grape Nouvelle; a crossing of Semillon and Ugni Blanc,” he said.
“In terms of our equivalent of Marlborough, we blend regions really well so it would be shortsighted to focus on one area for Sauvignon Blanc as the best examples from South Africa are regional blends,” he added.
Jack also spoke of his plight in striving for authenticity and integrity in the wines that he makes, despite having to make them on a grand scale: “We look up to Concha y Toro, which makes quality wines on a large scale – we’re not making toothpaste and don’t want our standards to slip,” he said.
“South Africa is experiencing a viticultural revolution driven by better vineyard management. Our white blends offer incomparable drinkability and complexity at entry level,” he added.
As for the slow growth of South African rosé, Jack believes it is because the wines are too dry for the average consumers’ palate.
“South African rosés are too dry and that’s why they are not succeeding in the international market. A lot of the successful rosés out there are sweeter than Coca-Cola, and I’m not prepared to go there: it’s not healthy and it’s not wine,” he said.
According to Accolade research, South African wines now have a 9.5% value share of the UK market and is one of only two countries in growth in the UK off-trade along with Argentina. The largest growth came from the white category.
Kumala is now the top selling South African wine brand by volume in the UK accounting for 1.5 million 9l cases.
Source: The Drinks Business