"New Zealand must maintain premium price point"

18 February, 2013

Brancott Estate has launched an ultra-premium Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc as it seeks to cement New Zealand’s status as a region that focuses on quality rather than quantity.

Brancott Estate Chosen Rows Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 has an rrp of £35 and 3,500 bottles will go on sale at independents across Britain.

Chief winemaker Patrick Materman told OLN: “It is a project we have been working on for a number of years.

It’s not Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc as you know it. It’s not enormously aromatic. It is a very age-worthy style – it will last a good 10 years in the bottle. It is very much a food wine. It’s 14% abv so it’s up there.

“It is a real statement of what we can do.”

Brancott Estate said it collaborated with various vineyard managers, winemakers and research specialists to conduct a range of “viticultural and vinification trials” throughout the Marlborough region.

Every aspect of how Sauvignon Blanc had been grown in the past was challenged and it believes it has created a superior offering.

Materman added: “The research work we are undertaking internally is world-leading – our understanding of complex and age-worthy natural aroma compounds of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, together with our learnings of the soil types on Brancott Vineyard, has given us a unique opportunity to create this prestigious wine – the pinnacle of our winemaking.”

The country’s 2012 harvest was small so it has little choice but to focus on premium wines, but Materman believes the 2012 vintage was genuinely of a high quality.

He said: “I think the 2012 vintage was not a big harvest but the wine quality was particularly strong.

“We should never try to play a volume game. It’s about maintaining a premium price point.

“In Marlborough the planted area takes up about 90% of the land available so we can’t expand much. We are not going to be able to keep up with the demand.

“It’s very important for New Zealand top maintain quality and maintain a point of difference.

“The UK is our longest established export market and still very important to us. We will always remain in the UK.

“Consumers are looking for good products – niche and interesting. New Zealand falls into that category.”

Away from Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott is focused on bringing New Zealand Pinot Noir and the lesser-known Sauvignon Gris into the UK consumer’s consciousness.  

Materman said: “There is no doubt Sauvignon Blanc will continue to be the lead variety, but Pinot Noir is in second place.

“It engenders a lot of passion among winemakers. There is exciting stuff coming out of Marlborough. The region can deliver great consistency.

“Sauvignon Gris is another variety we have launched in the UK. Aromatically it’s like Sauvignon Blanc but it’s softer and rounder and I think it will be very well received by consumers. We have 90% of the planted Sauvignon Gris in New Zealand so we are leading the way with that.”

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