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Craft beer is on everyone’s lips and it’s good news for both UK and global producers of all sizes. It would be impossible to fit a description of every beer launch into this feature, so suffice it to say there are many and the flavours are diverse.

Italian Renaissance

08 June, 2017

Prosecco has enjoyed a remarkable rise towards ubiquity in recent times, thanks to its uncomplicated taste and its status as an affordable luxury. “I’ll be there in a Prosecco,” laugh Brits to one another. “My superpower is making Prosecco disappear. It’s a classy and elegant drink. Two pints of Prosecco, please.”

Asda has hit headlines of late for selling a huge amount of £10 Champagne, offering three slabs of lager for £20 and stocking six bottles of branded wine for £24. It has consistently offered the most competitive prices on spirits and recently raised eyebrows when it unveiled a £5 fizz called Progrigio.

One million vines are being planted across England in 2017 to meet soaring demand for homegrown bubbly and still wines from grapes such as Bacchus and Pinot Noir. That is enough to fill Hyde Park, and the names of the producers planting the vines gives cause for excitement. 

Life beyond Prosecco

21 March, 2017

Britons are celebrating far too much, according to the latest sparkling wine data. A record 40 million bottles flew off the shelves in UK shops in the 12-week festive period of 2016, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association’s Q1 market report – a 12% increase on 2015.

More sparkling wine is making its way into our fridges, thanks to the nation’s insatiable love of fizz, but Champagne is struggling to attract any value growth, with a drop of 7% since June last year (IRI).

Here’s a beer recipe for you: take one northern, family-run brewer and blend it with a well-known grocery retailer to create a trio of craft beers.

Southern belles

27 February, 2017

The Languedoc-Roussillon region produces 16 million hl per year, making it bigger than Australia, Argentina, China and Africa in terms of output.

It’s easy to think that some of the UK’s most successful family-run drinks producers found fame slowly as consumers discovered the brands, and perhaps as each generation built on the foundations of the last.

Portugal: Off the beaten track

21 February, 2017

Wine-producing countries that fall outside of the top 10 might be out of the limelight but they can be ideal for independent wine merchants seeking value-for-money wines that are unlikely to be found in supermarkets. Portugal, which sits at number 11 in the UK off-trade, is a perfect example.

With the rise and rise of gin it’s no surprise a new wave of tonics is battling its way on to the shelves. Over the past year we’ve seen a number of premium brands entering the mixers sector, particularly in tonic water – a category which grew 12% last year compared with 2015, to £98 million (IRI). This compares with 5.2% for other mixers.

Tesco’s announcement that it intends to buy Booker could prove to be the food and drink retailing sector’s Brexit or Donald Trump moment. The high-ups in each business would have known it was coming, of course, but for the rest of us it was certainly something of a bolt from the blue – and for many in the mainstream drinks retailing arena it has the potential to prove as transformative as the two big political events that promise to reshape the world we live in.

The dramatic question “Is this the end of the Campaign for Real Ale?” was posed by the consumer organisation itself on the launch of its Revitalisation Project last March.

Concha y Toro believes it now owns more hectares under vine than anyone else on the planet, with 9,194ha in Chile, 1,142ha in Argentina and 468ha in California. It is a colossal player in the wine world, dwarfing all other South American producers, and its largest market is the UK.

Making more of France

18 January, 2017

Although value sales continue to slide for French wines in the off-trade (down 2.5% in the year to October 2016, according to IRI data), the one time of year when it fares better than most is at Christmas. And early reports indicate the 2016 festive season was no exception, with many Britons seeking out and trading up to well-known names such as Chablis, Sancerre and Côtes du Rhône.

Formats: The future of cans

18 January, 2017

Not so long ago cider was all about ice, but now much of the buzz surrounding this category is about small, or craft, cans and other new formats. Of course, these are not limited to cider – beer is streets ahead when it comes to diversifying into 33cl cans, and it’s a trend that shows no sign of abating.

Core Objectives

18 January, 2017

There’s nothing stale about the cider category at the moment. In the past year we have seen the growth of craft canned cider as well as a concerted effort from producers to flag up the authenticity of their brands, ranging from highlighting traditional English apple varieties to pinpointing the actual orchard and apple grower.

Kiwi wine producers branch out

15 December, 2016

NZ is big in Sauvignon Blanc and growing in Pinot Noir, but it has plenty more up its sleeve, says Sonya Hook

Mont Ventoux has a special place in cycling folklore as its gruelling 6,273ft peak has overwhelmed some of the sport’s leading stars during the Tour de France.

Cider: ripe for growth

25 November, 2016

Britain has entered the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the falling apples are ripe to the core and the cider presses are in full flow. Autumn is a time of change and it is easy to become overwhelmed by Keatsian wistfulness as you stroll through the Herefordshire countryside, taking in landscapes brimming with yellow, red and gold and breathing in the sweet scents.

Britain’s two most famous Davids recently visited the Cameronbridge distillery in eastern Scotland – former prime minister Cameron and former England captain, style icon and all-round superstar Beckham. It’s not hard to guess which one caused the off-duty female staff to come into work simply to catch a glimpse. Beckham has regularly been voted the world’s best looking man, while Cameron has been described as a “slightly camp gammon robot… a C3PO made of ham”.

Consumers across the country must be overjoyed by the fact that gifting in alcohol is now a “thing”. Of course bottles of wine or whisky have always been popular gifts at Christmas, but other drinks are now making more of an effort to get in on the act through a combination of high-profile ads, POS activity or specialist gift packs.

Beer shops: A lot of bottle

15 November, 2016

The growing passion for packaged beer in the UK has opened up exciting opportunities for retailers.

UK gets a grape break

15 November, 2016

UK wine producers are celebrating an “exceptional” harvest, with many reporting 2016 shaping up to be a high quality vintage.

It's a transitional period for cider. The category is declining 2% each year yet the market has never seemed so dynamic. Meanwhile the level of commitment from producers - both in terms of marketing spend and NPD – is a clear indication that there’s money to be made from cider.

As the nights draw in and consumers take to home entertaining, new opportunities arise, says Sonya Hook:

Chile: Land of opportunity

23 September, 2016

Chile’s diversity of climate and terroir is wooing consumers to broaden their repertoire through its wine offering. Sonya Hook reports

A quick look at the IRI figures for the top 10 bestselling wine-producing countries in the UK retail trade reveals a stark trend: the Old World is taking a battering and the New World is surging.

Market leader Australia is growing, along with Chile, New Zealand and Argentina, but Italy, France, Spain and Germany are all in ongoing decline.

At first glance, the new store in the affluent Surrey town of Weybridge looks like any other local business, blending seamlessly into a high street frequented by multimillionaires, Chelsea footballers and other celebrities. But the once-derelict warehouse is actually the powerhouse behind the UK’s largest wine supplier, Accolade Wines, and the store in front is its first UK venture into bricks-and-mortar retailing.

Wine has always been an integral part of the Marks & Spencer proposition. It enjoys an exalted position, with producers clamouring to climb aboard its prized supplier podium. Wine accounts for a massive 85% of total BWS at the retailer, but BWS trading manager Gary Brooking and his team are also focused on developing the hitherto underperforming beers and spirits sector of the business. “We’re taking beer to a new level,” Brooking tells OLN. “We’re starting from a small base, but it’s a significant focus for us.”