The £4 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Popped into Asda today and scanned their wine range. Surprised to see this wine at £4. It’s a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Southbank Estate. From the back label: ‘Marlborough, sitting at the north-eastern point of the South Island, is New Zealand’s home of vivid Sauvignon Blanc, our world-renowned white wine.’

Now this Southbank isn’t one of the bulk-shipped UK-bottled Sauvignons that have been making headlines over here of late. It’s New Zealand bottled, and it’s OK. It’s a light-ish but balanced expression of Marlborough Sauvignon with crisp, grassy, citrus and grapefruit characters.

How can they be selling this for £4? I suppose there are two ways of looking at this. On one level, it’s great for consumers to get a decent Marlborough Sauvignon for this price. But on another level, it’s a disaster for New Zealand, and for Marlborough as a region.

New Zealand Sauvignon used to be expensive. But we still bought it, because it was good, and just as importantly, it was consistently good. Marlborough Sauvignon was a trusted brand, and one worth paying over the odds for. As the back label states, it’s a ‘world-renowned white wine’. Selling it cheap, for whatever reason, is a way to kill this powerful brand.

The danger is, once people have been getting decent Marlborough Sauvignon for just £4, will they be prepared to spend £8 on it ever again? And what about the people producing the top Marlborough Sauvignons? Will they be able to convince people to spend £10 and over on their wines when less good but still respectable versions of the same thing are available so cheaply?

10 comments to The £4 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

  • D McGrew

    congrats on the igration. The new site looks very nice.

  • J Mac

    The price will be partly because of the huge volume of their ’08 vintage.

    Congrats on the new site – I appreciate the (hopeful) lack of that unfortunate fellow and his anonymous comments.

  • michael dietrich

    I sell wine here in Oregon in the US. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorites. For me it has been a very good category. With the way our economy has been ove the last year or so I have more people wanting to find the best deals. Right now my best deal is the Clifford Bay 2009 Awatere Valley SB which sells for $10 US. I also have a Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 from Greenstone Point for the same price. I think that as our economy improves many people will be willing to spend more. I am also hoping that New Zealand Winegrowers makes available the audio of all the seminars from Pinot Noir 2010 lik they did for the 2007 conference.

  • Jon Atkinson

    Less than £1.80 when you take off VAT and duty – I can’t believe that this is profitable for any of the parties in this equation. I imagine that it will dry up once the 2009 comes on stream but as you say, by then the damage has been done – will nobody learn from the Australians predicament that deep discounting is not a sustainable practice.

  • ChrisFoulkes

    Hi Jamie,
    Have recently tried a £5 nz sb from sainsburys and it was ok, I dont think they do nz wine a good favour. Sainsburys at the moment have the Montana reserve SB 09 on offer cheaper than the regular SB, and it is very good.Trouble is these prices are almost the same as they were 10 years ago, which is great for the consumer, but not for the winery.

  • USA stores are full of bulk wines from trusted wine regions like Italy, France, California, Spain etc – yet these bulk wines are not the only stories on the shelf. Nor have they destroyed the branding from these wine regions.

    Retailers should be excited because they now have a wider range of consumers to share New Zealand wine with.

    Consumers who think they are getting an $18 wine from any region for $9 – well – I guess they get what they pay for- no matter where the wine is from.

    Karma will take care of the retailers who misrepresent these bulk wines as the special New Zealand wines that consumers have grown to love.

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by sandihurstwine: the end is nigh….via @jamiegoode – the 4quid SBlanc

  • jamiegoode

    Apparently, the promotion was not funded by the producer. That’s all I can say…

  • Last year in May, I spent one month in NZ, totally in the South Is. and primarily with some excellent winemakers. I spent a bit of time with Clive Dougall, James Healy, Ivan Sutherland, Kevin Judd and the Flowerday’s at Te Whare Ra, amongst others. I got the feeling that there is a real frustration building up within Marlborough. You didn’t hear it from me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a small ‘break away’ select group of ‘artisan’ winemakers started their own focus group. For instance, rather like in Soave/Valpolicella with pioneering families such as Pieropan, Anselmi and Allegrini etc. I got the distinct impression that the region has reached breaking point, especially with regards to volume. Yes, 08 was a huge vintage, but the knock on effects of all this is going to end up very messy.

  • This is a good bottle of wine. It’s been a wine that we buy for parties for quite a while now. It has classically Sauv Blanc musty smell, but coupled with the fruity flavour it works very well.

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