4 Italy

13 July, 2007

Market share by value: 10.6

per cent

Last year's rank: 4

Last year's market share: 10.4

per cent

Sales value: £468 million

Change

on last year: +7

per cent

It's almost impossible to find out the precise number of grape varieties

planted in Italy, owing to a combination of synonyms and viticultural and bureaucratic chaos. Most UK consumers probably couldn't care less. As long as Italy produces Pinot Grigio, who wants to know about Fiano, Aglianico, Barbera or Corvina?

The phenomenon is almost impossible to explain - unless consumers enjoy drinking wines that taste of very little - but a phenomenon it is. Nearly a third of Italian wine sales in the UK are now Pinot Grigio, some of it (look for the brand extension) red or pink. In the last

year, Pinot Grigio sales have increased by 1 million cases to 3.1 million cases. There is even talk of a shortage .

While some commentators, this one included, bemoan Pinot Grigio's rise , Tesco's Dan Jago sees a positive side . " It has made consumers more confident when it comes to buying Italian white

like Gavi and Fiano." Let's hope so. Italy's white wines have really improved in the last five years and most

are considerably more interesting than Pinot Grigio.

On the red front, Italy had very good vintages in

2004 and 2005. And there are signs

consumers are finally moving beyond

names such as Valpolicella, Chianti and Barolo to experience more of what 's on offer. Over the next 12 months, it would be a pleasure to report growth across the full range of Italy's wine styles.




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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