Majestic Wines has reported a 43% rise in wines costing over £20 – and the company is overhauling its fine wine offering as a result.
Majestic boss Tim How told decanter.com the lion’s share of the increased sales were in Bordeaux and Burgundy.
But he pointed out that a 43% rise in a small amount of sales could look like a large number. This figure represents £2.1m (€3.1m) of Majestic sales – that is 2.7% of overall business.
‘We fully intend to take this up to 5%,’ How added, with an ‘aggressive’ plan to expand stores with air conditioning and fine wine cellars.
The Majestic offering will also increase. ‘There will be a net addition of about 200 lines,’ he said.
Typical wines sold at this level are Clos du Marquis, the second wine of Chateau Leoville Las Cases, Pichon Baron 97, Leoville Poyferre 96 at £40 (€59), and Leoville Las Cases 94 at £45 (€67).
Elsewhere, retailers agree there is an increase in sales of more expensive wines. Sainsbury’s wine buyer Andrew Bird said premium wines were growing faster than cheaper wines, ‘particularly those that customers recognise easily, like Chablis or Chateauneuf du Pape.’
He added that ‘in this more expensive wine category, people are tending towards old world wines.’
A spokesman for Tesco noted that ‘trading up in terms of quality’ was part of a general aspirational trend: ‘Our customers are telling us that they are interested in learning more about wine and experimenting.’
Another UK supermarket, Somerfield has just launched ‘The Collection’ of premium wines which include the second wine of Pichon Baron, Les Tourelles de Longueville 02 at £18.99 (€28) and Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 03 at £13.99 (€21).
Decanter writer Anthony Rose pointed out there is nothing new in supermarkets having fine wine ranges but said that he was heartened by the news that people were drinking better wine.
However he warned, ‘In the UK we are still mired in a market that is very price conscious. I don’t think these figures are as significant as some are making out.’
He conceded however that the more supermarkets upped their premium wine offering, that would encourage others, ‘then it’s good news.’
Written by Adam Lechmere