Codorníu has sought to raise the average price point for sparkling wine in the UK by launching a new premium variety.   

The wine, named Reina Maria Cristina, was launched this week with a recommended retail price of GBP17.99 (US$29), Codorníu said.

The Spanish group, one of the largest Cava producers, said the launch came in response to growing market demand for high quality sparkling wines, outside of Champagne.

Sparkling wine sales in the UK have been growing by 5% year-on-year, according to a report published last month by just-drinks and IWSR

Bill Breen, managing director for Codorníu UK, said: "Codorníu has long recognised the need for premium sparkling wines with a strong consumer proposition. We see huge potential for further category growth in encouraging consumers to trade up from the sub GBP10 market to products such as Reina Maria Cristina."

The wine is named after Regent Queen Maria Cristina of Spain, who in 1897 granted Codorníu the tile of 'purveyor to the Spanish Royal Household'.

Cava producers have long talked about the need to achieve higher price points for their wines.

As Champagne prices continue to rise in the wake of tight supplies, several observers believe sparkling wine could fill the market void left behind, particularly as consumer spending power is curtailed by the credit crunch.

Codorníu's Breen said: "Codorníu is investing heavily in winery and viticulture innovation and the appointment of new winemaker Bruno Colomer Martí earlier this year heralds the start of an exciting new phase for the company." 

Click here to get your copy of the just-drinks/IWSR report on sparkling wine.