If the U SA hasn't quite done what many commentators thought it would do a year ago - that is, overtake France as the number two supplier to the UK - it is still doing very well, thank you, with E&J Gallo leading the assault on the UK market.
The world's biggest family-owned winery may have bid farewell to
Ernest Gallo , but there are no signs
it is losing its grip on the UK market, where it has had a much more successful year than its rival, the Diageo-owned Blossom Hill.
And yet the suspicion persists that the UK market is not seeing the best of California . The majority of sales
here are sweet, pink and inexpensive (53 per cent of the rosé we drink is sourced from the West Coast). The imminent demise of the term White Zinfandel - to be replaced by Zinfandel Rosé - in the UK might affect rosé sales adversely, but don't bank on it.
For the time being, most of the really top stuff is confined to a handful of independents or never makes it
here. The weakness of the US dollar is making the UK a more attractive proposition for exporters, although many wineries still prefer to stick with the domestic market.
A year ago, I bemoaned the
quality of most sub-£10 American
wines, but things are improving. It's been a pleasure to taste
offerings from the likes of Robert Mondavi Woodbridge, Mirassou, Hahn Estates, Ravenswood, Bonterrra, Brook Ranch and Napa Family Vineyards. I'd like to see a few more brands like that and a little less sweet rosé. But I may be in a minority on that one.