Friday, 7 May was International Sauvignon Blanc Day. Ahead of the day in the April issue of National Liquor News, Natalie Grace, Founder of Perfectly Rieslingable, wrote about the path to reinvigorating what is often a favourite region in the category.
It’s no secret that New Zealand’s success on the world wine stage owes a lot to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Propelling the country front and centre with its high quality reputation and distinctive taste, Sauvignon Blanc is still by far the most widely planted variety, accounts for 88 per cent of the country’s exports and here in Australia, it is the most consumed white wine.
While data from the national body New Zealand Winegrowers doesn’t appear to indicate this success slowing down, in recent times questions have been raised on the longevity of the ascent. Research by the New Zealand government’s international business development agency New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) found that Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s brand equity is being undermined by deep discounting and overfamiliar consumers, leading to a decline in overall value.
Twelve per cent of Australian wine drinkers say they are feeling bored or uninspired with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 10 per cent claim that they are drinking less Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc than a year ago. At the same time, competition in the wine market is growing with the likes of rosé, Prosecco, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio having made a lot more noise together with continually changing consumer demand. It is a perfect storm which has led to the development of an initiative by NZTE that seeks to re-educate and reignite Australia’s passion for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Armed with the research, where to from here for the hero of the New Zealand wine industry? If the goal is to position Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc as the wine at the centre of every social occasion, and the ideal partner for the modern Australian plate and palate, how will New Zealand brands seek to change the narrative in their Australian market activities?
Like many of the great wine regions of the world, the initiative illustrates that the answer lies in provenance. Forty-five per cent of all Australian wine drinkers say region of origin is a key consideration in a purchasing decision, however some, particularly younger consumers, aren’t aware that Marlborough is in New Zealand and have no association with the region.
Educating audiences on Marlborough as a unique, dynamic place like nowhere else in the world is central to success. First to see the sun and poised between alps and ocean, the Marlborough region encompasses the perfect environment for Sauvignon Blanc grapes to flourish. Linking the wine to the region and communicating Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s distinctive taste and crisp, refreshing style as worthy of seeking out and paying more for will help move consumers beyond simply price-based decision making.
This is just one tactic intended to move the dial. Combine this with education on the varied styles of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, the low alcohol, organic, vegan options within the category and complementary food pairings, as well as a concerted effort to work with retailers to provide an informative and inspiring store experience, and shoppers will be encouraged to trade up their wine choices.
Made with Care
A significant investment by the trade is the global Made with Care campaign – designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand food and beverage products. Having launched in Australia in March 2021, the campaign tells deeper food and wine stories at scale by partnering with digital platforms and trusted media.