Majestic Wines sells one bottle of wine from New Zealand for every bottle sold from America, Australia and South America put together.

New Zealand wines have been a top seller in Majestic for many years but the retailer says its customers have historically been reluctant to move away from the country’s Sauvignon Blancs, particularly ones from the Marlborough region.

In the second of this five-part series DRN looks at why the retailer decided to enhance its range of New Zealand wines as part of its 2020 range review.

Buyer, Beth Pearce MW, says she spent some time looking at ways to encourage the retailer’s Sauvignon Blanc fans to expand their New Zealand wine repertoire, as well as enticing new consumers to explore the category.

She says: “New Zealand has been a firm Majestic customer favourite for over a decade. Our top-seller list is dominated by Marlborough Sauvignon. So the key challenge is how we help customers understand the nuances available, allow them to explore the breadth and terroirs of New Zealand – and even to discover new regions, or subregions, producing different styles or grapes even within Marlborough and beyond.”

She says the key to encouraging customers to branch out was to look at the variety of smaller regions now on offer, and to go beyond the “well-known Sauvignon styles”. As a result of this, Majestic is increasing the number of sub-regions it sells, including the valleys for Awatere, Wairau, and coastal sites for more saline examples, such as Dillon’s Point. It is also stocking more oaked examples, alongside lower alcohol and organic Sauvignons.

Some of the grape varieties it is adding to tempt the Sauvignon fans include pinot Gris, Sauvignon Gris and Albarino.

Pearce says: “For millions of wine drinkers in this country, New Zealand Sauvignon remains their absolute go-to wine. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for those who have been buying the category for years, they are beginning to think ‘okay, what else can I try?’

“Historically we have pointed these customers back towards France, but there are so many brilliant Kiwi options they could also look to explore, new grapes or regions or styles.

“I wanted a range at Majestic which really helped them to do that, listened to their queries and provided bottle shaped answers.”

Part of the new strategy for New Zealand wines has been working closely with new suppliers and building on some of the brand success stories over recent times.

Majestic is also expanding its offer of New Zealand Chardonnay, and introducing a number of red wines to the category, which have been lost to the range in recent years.

Pearce says: “New Zealand is such an interesting country to work with. Unlike many Old World regions, customers who love Sauvignon Blanc don’t really trade into the reds. There’s very little crossover. But for me, it’s about saying to someone that you love their whites, so try their reds.

“It’s about showcasing the country’s global prowess and uniqueness in its own right and attracting a wider audience for grapes like Syrah and Cabernet from across the spectrum. It’s an exciting challenge, and one I hope customers take on!”.

Some of the new wines include: Devil’s Creek barrel Select Sauvignon (£8.99 Mix Six or £10.99 per bottle); Fincher & Co Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Awatere Valley (£12.99 Mix Six or £14.99 per bottle); Mt Difficulty ‘Roaring Meg’ Pinot Gris 2019, Central Otago (£12.99 Mix Six or £15.99 per bottle).