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UK set for Moscato influx

Moscato sales in the US have risen by more than 70% and the variety is now poised to take the UK by storm.

Gallo: ’10 Moscatos’

According to Nielsen figures, nearly 4m cases of Moscato were sold in the US in the year to 7 January, but total consumption could be double that once sales in bars and restaurants are taken into account, Impact Databank estimates.

The figures represent a rise of more than 70% in both volume and value in the last 12 months, on top of a doubling of sales during 2010, making retail sales of Moscato worth an estimated US$300m-plus in 2011. It has now overtaken Sauvignon Blanc as the third most popular white grape in the US

Typically slightly sparkling, light in style at about 7-9% abv and with varying degrees of sweetness, Moscato has won particular favour among younger consumers, with Nielsen estimating that more than half of the grape’s consumers are under 25.

It has also built up a following among rap and hip-hop stars, with artists such as Kanye West and Lil’ Kim namechecking the variety in recent releases.

Gallo is the clear market leader, with its Barefoot Moscato selling about 1.1m cases last year, ahead of Trinchero’s Sutter Home brand at just under 1m cases.

Gallo will soon have 10 Moscato wines on its books, while Australia’s Yellow Tail Moscato is also predicted to shift more than 0.5m cases this year.

The trend is now poised to hit the UK, with a large number of new listings – both branded and supermarket own-label – hitting the shelves this spring.

‘I think we’ve been slow off the mark compared to the US,’ said Robert Joseph, co-founder of consumer research business DoILikeIt? ‘But it’s coming in this spring in a big way.’

Joseph said Moscato could also be boosted by the growing UK trend for reduced alcohol wines, which benefit from lower duty rates and are potentially more profitable for producers.

The number of Moscato wines winning medals in the Decanter World Wine Awards has increased significantly over the last few years: in 2011 ten wines won an award, compared with six the previous year and one in 2005.

Written by Richard Woodard

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