3 USA

13 July, 2007

Market share by value: 16.4

per cent

Last year's rank: 3

Last year's market share: 16

per cent

Sales value: £724 million

Change

on last year: +6

per cent

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

founder

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.




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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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