Supplies from the Marlborough region are reported to be at least 35% down on the year before, according to Bibendum’s on-trade channel director John Graves, although others report a total vintage decline at 19% for the country, and 21% down for Marlborough.
“This isn’t unexpected,” he said. “Industry has known about this for a good twelve months, and we’ve been trying to say to customers there’s a real problem here. And it’s a category that’s always on the edge of never having enough wine.”
He said the reality of the situation is now only starting to hit home as operators ask for wine supplies that aren’t there. “It’s only really now, when you say sorry, you can’t have any, that people are going oh really?”
While the supply issue has mostly impacted on the Marlborough region, he pointed out that it would lead to increased pressure on supplies from NZ as a whole, and prices were on the rise.
He said the expectation on price had been set by a move towards bulk production in the country, as a result the wine had been sold in “supermarkets and pubs way below the rate it should have been sold at, so people will be expecting a certain price point and it’s miles more expensive now.”
Situation unlikely to resolve soon
The problems are unlikely to go away soon, as well, he added: “Because of the way the vintage has been affected, next year’s supply will be affected as well, so there’s a two year problem happening here.”
He is now urging pub operators to look to alternative supplies to New Zealand Sauvignon for sub £25 wine listings. “We’re looking in areas like South Africa, where there’s really good supply, great value and quality. We’re going to be seeing a lot of New Zealand look-alike bottles from South Africa, but actually the value for money coming in is better than New Zealand at entry point.”
He also said north-west Spain was also an opportunity that was regularly overlooked: “Rueda is an amazing area for Sauvignon Blanc, but it never received the recognition it deserves for the quality. It’s less expensive, and in a lot of cases, considerably better.”