Pernod Ricard to push GBP10 Jacobs Creek wines in UK

Pernod Ricard to push GBP10 Jacob's Creek wines in UK

The head winemaker for Pernod Ricard's Jacob's Creek has said that he is confident of persuading UK consumers to trade up to the group's new Regional Reserves wines.

Australian wine companies - at least, those who are not selling up -  have one eye fixed on China's budding thirst these days. But, Pernod Ricard believes its launch of Jacob's Creek wines priced at GBP9.99 (US$16) in UK shows that it remains committed to leading Australia out of a rot in its most established export market.    

"Jacob's Creek has an opportunity and a responsibility to teach consumers about Australia producing great wines," said Bernard Hickin, head winemaker for Jacob's Creek. Pernod's decision to launch Jacob's Creek Regional Reserves is part of the wider Australian effort to lift its wines to more profitable price points in the UK by emphasising regional differences between wines.

Pernod Ricard, specifically, wants consumers to get used to seeing Coonawarra, Barossa and Adelaide Hills on labels. "It's a big project to move from what we used to call simply South Australia," Hickin told just-drinks on the sidelines of the A+ annual Australian wine tasting in London today (19 January).

He said that Jacob's Creek's strong branding would help to persuade consumers to trade up from its Classics range, priced at GBP7.49. "If you've been drinking Classic Chardonnay for three or four years then, sooner or later you'll say, well, what else is out there?" Hickin said.   

Australia remains the number one wine supplier to the UK, exporting around 29m nine-litre cases annually with volumes up by 4% in 2010. A cocktail of duty tax increases, currency swings and overproduction has eaten into company profits, however.

Several major suppliers to the UK have scaled back their volumes in the last couple of years, as other emerging markets come to the fore. "We are focusing on markets around the world and there are some Asian markets that are really important to us," said Hickin. "But, those are as well as the UK, not instead of the UK."  

The UK is the second most valuable wine market in the world, behind the US, and was worth US$14bn in 2010, although this is only forecast to rise by 1% between now and 2014, according to figures released by Vinexpo and IWSR last week.