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America overtakes France in UK

American wine sales overtook French in the UK for the first time this year.

Sales of American wine in the off-trade grew 5% to £781m in the year to November, while French wine sales fell 3% to £780m.

The figures, from analysts ACNielsen, show US volumes also increased. America now produces 15.6m cases against France’s 14.5m – an increase of 3% compared with a drop of 7%.

Ninety-five per cent of American wine is produced in California.

Stewart Blunt of Nielsen said, ‘France has traditionally had a lot in the under-£3 sector, with vin de pays and cheap Bordeaux. That chunk of the market has lost quite heavily over the past six months.

‘While American wine is making progress, France has been sliding back, making the overtaking a bit easier.’

France is now third in the wine consumption league table, with Australia first for the last five years, with 23% of the market. Italy is fourth, overtaken by California in 2003.

The news should come as no surprise – in January 2003 decanter.com reported, ‘California is set to overtake France as the UK’s second largest wine supplier’.

Crucial to the success of US wines is Californian rosé, which has become a hit with women in Britain. Sales of rosé went up by 17% in the year to October.

French rosé has done badly, slipping by 9% in volume and 5% in value.

John McLaren, UK director of the California Wine Institute said above all the Americans understand how to market their wines.

‘The Californians do very well what the French don’t do very well, which is to find out what the customer wants.’

‘There is no doubt that some of the finest wines on earth are made in France, but also some of the finest wines in the world are now made in California.’

Written by decanter.com staff

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