UK-based wine agent Alliance Wine has set up a subsidiary in Australia in an attempt to expand into the lower end of the UK market.

Alliance Wine, which distributes wine from 17 different countries in the UK, has teamed up with Australian winemaker Peter Leske to set up the business. Leske was formerly head winemaker for Adelaide Hills producer Nepenthe.

Alliance, formed in Scotland in 1984, has made its name importing wines from boutique wineries and represents producers including Spain's Cillar de Silos and Chilean winery Botalcura.

The company said its Australian subsidiary has been created to produce "economic" brands for the business to give the company a presence at all price points. Alliance's wine development director, Giles Cooke, said he had become "frustrated" that the company was already doing much of the brand management and distribution for its Australian portfolio.

As a consequence, Cooke said, Alliance wanted to develop its own brand from scratch and "cut out the middleman". He told just-drinks: "Now, we're closer to the market and more in control."

The first wine from Alliance, One Chain Vineyards, will hit the UK market next month and will initially target the country's on-trade and independent off-trade channels.

The wine will go on sale at GBP4.99 (US$9.84) and Cooke insisted that Alliance does not want to "encroach" on its agency wines from Australia, including the Stella Bella label.

The move, Cooke added, puts Alliance at "the cutting edge" of wine distribution in the UK.

"For a company that is relatively small, what we're doing in Australia shows a lot of ambition and foresight."