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Invivo X, SJP: Sarah Jessica Parker’s wine range, including new low-alcohol duo

Decanter sits down with Sarah Jessica Parker and Invivo co-founder Tim Lightbourne to discuss the collaboration, blending, the new Sevenly range and what’s next for SJP.

The growing trend of celebrity wines shows no sign of slowing, and ever a trendsetter, it should come as no surprise that Sarah Jessica Parker is among the celebs who’ve stepped into the wine world. But, it took some convincing. 

Admittedly, Parker hadn’t been looking to get into the wine industry, but the award-winning actor and producer knows a thing or two about launching quality products.

From footwear, fashion and fragrances to books, she’s an entrepreneur who sensed an interesting proposition via her agent back in 2018 with New Zealand-based producer Invivo.

Co-founded by Kiwi school friends Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron, with the tagline 100% Bullshit Free Since 2008, the duo set out to produce quality wines while rejecting elitism towards wine. Making wine feel accessible to all resonated with Parker.

‘I wouldn’t have thought that I should be, or know enough to be, involved in wine’ she said, recalling her personal experiences with wine by way of sommelier recommendations and travel. 

‘Travelling, having local wine in little villages in Europe, made a huge impression because it was so different from going to a restaurant,’ she added. ‘[Restaurants and travel] were the first experiences in wine where I was really enjoying it and not just sipping politely because someone put it in front of me. But, I would never have considered that amount of enjoyment to equal [getting involved in the industry].’

Convinced by now-partners Lightbourne and Cameron that wine is not just for the rarefied few or wine-educated – that it should be approachable and can be learned – the collaboration set off, with education part and parcel to the process.

Invivo co-founders Tim Lightbourne (left) and Rob Cameron (right) with Sarah Jessica Parker during a blending session. Credit: Invivo

How involved is SJP?

Making her name count on the label, Parker is a shareholder in the business, involved from designing the label and discussing how to approach customers to blending the wines to her tastes. 

For the Invivo X, SJP Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, the trio is looking for ‘a Sauvignon Blanc that’s a little bit more full bodied – it has a little more weight to it. It’s not as architectural; it’s not as high and pointy as many Sauvignon Blancs are, but it’s still that grape,’ Parker explained. 

When blending, winemaker Cameron brings six to eight samples produced with fruit from the Awatere and Wairau Valleys, and ranging in production methods including oak influence and different handling of skins. The process can take multiple hours of bouncing ideas and opinions around before they nail down the final blend, with Lightbourne making clear: ‘the collaboration is important, but the wine needs to stand on its own.’ 

The flavour profile and taste preferences they agreed on have aligned with consumers and trade too. 

The trio’s blending sessions, which are available to watch on Invivo’s YouTube and social media channels, have led to award-winning expressions, Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) included.

Since the first vintage in 2019, Invivo X, SJP’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has been awarded a Silver medal and 90-91 points annually by the DWWA experts, who taste and rate all wines blind.

Proud of the results and a point of pride for the company, Parker said these ratings also offer meaningful information for the consumer, pointing out that ‘a lot of consumers are connecting on taste, price point and a sense of quality.’

‘I always say,’ she added, ‘we better be worth everyone’s hard-earned dollar.’ Agreeing, Lightbourne said: ‘We’re trying to over-deliver at the price point.’

Invivo X, SJP’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is available from £12-£19 at Wine Delivered, Ocado and Harvey Nichols, and second wine in the range, Invivo X, SJP Vin de France Rosé, from £15-19.

Lightbourne and Sarah Jessica Parker. Credit: Invivo

SJP’s new low-alcohol wine range, Sevenly

Now five vintages in, SJP and Invivo have launched a second low-alcohol range in line with the burgeoning no/low category.

Launched in the UK this month at Sainsbury’s, Invivo and Parker’s Sevenly duo includes an Australian Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé, produced from 70% Shiraz and 30% Sangiovese.

‘Low sugar and low alcohol has been taking off for a while,’ said  Lightbourne. Termed ‘mid-strength’ in Australia and New Zealand, both wines in the Sevenly range are 7% alcohol, achieved by advanced spinning cone technology which gently removes alcohol at low temperatures to better preserve the wine’s varietal characteristics.

The trio work with leaders in the sector, Australian Vintage, who’s winemakers have expertise in the production process of this style, producing lower alcohol wines that don’t compromise on taste and structure. It’s a category Australians are taking very seriously, with the federal government recently awarding almost A$3m (£1.6m) in grant money to boost the quality and innovation of no/low wines.

Complementing Invivo and SJP’s existing range, Sevenly’s Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé are a welcome addition to the growing category, and competitively priced at £8 nationwide.

Sevenly is 7% alcohol, with 54 calories per 125ml glass. Credit: Invivo

 What’s next for Invivo X, SJP?

Invivo X, SJP has grown five years continuously in the US, with its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc currently outperforming the wine category +49% in value and +42.6 in volume, according to NielsenIQ. 

With sales increasing across the globe from South Korea and Greece to Ireland, there’s more on the horizon for Parker, Lightbourne and Cameron. 

Parker said, ‘It’s been great to see how much people love the wine. But, that speaks to the wine and nothing to do with me. You get one chance with a consumer and they have all the information in the world now; consumers are so informed. 

‘I think it’s really nice that they keep coming back to us, so that’s been fantastic. But that’s at a certain point less so me, and just simply the wine.’

When asked what’s next, Lightbourne divulged ‘Marlborough Pinot Noir’ with Parker quickly adding, ‘I’m so excited! It’s really delicious. We’re very excited about it.’

The team are bottling it next month, and we’ll likely see rouge to the range early next year. 

Tasting the Invivo X, SJP wine range:

Invivo X, SJP Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2022

91 points
£12 Wine Delivered, £16 Ocado, £19 Harvey Nichols
Jalapeños, kiwi, gooseberry, just-ripe pears and pink grapefruit carry from nose to palate. There’s an inviting rounded mouthfeel which tames the crisp Granny Smith apple acidity, and noted concentration of flavours leads to a lingering finish, calling for another sip. A well done classic Marlborough. Alc 12.5%

Invivo X, SJP Rosé, Vin de France, France 2022

90 points
£15 Wine Delivered, £19 Harvey Nichols
Delicate watermelon and white peach open on the palate to cherry blossom, strawberry and lemon with a salty edge. There’s a touch of almond creaminess to tone the bright and crunchy acidity, without the often-noted, but weighty, strawberries and cream getting in the way of its freshness. Alc 12.5%

Invivo X, SJP Sevenly Sauvignon Blanc, Wine of Australia 2022

88 points
£8 Sainsburys
Fresh lime leaf and white blossom scents with some tangerine and tropical notes. The mid-palate is lightly honeyed with a nice mouthfeel and rounded acidity. Quaffable, particularly with sushi or dumplings, and a feat for the growing low/no category. Alc 7%

Invivo X, SJP Sevenly Rosé, Wine of Australia 2022

86 points
£8 Sainsburys
Popularly pale pink in colour, this wine opens to red berry fruits and even a touch of blueberry and red apple skins. Sweet summer raspberries sing out on the palate. It’s light and playful, but finishes with some drying tannins, making this a fun match for food. Alc 7%

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