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?