Caviro, which makes 10% of all Italian wine, is targeting UK multiples with its new pan-Italian sourced range, Romio, and expects the nine-strong line-up (rsp: approximately £7) to hit shelves in the autumn.
The co-operative already has a turnover of £6.8m in the UK, where it is an own-label supplier for Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons. However, it said Italian wine was lacking a big branded presence "with simple and appealing language" that could compete with stronger-selling New World varietals.
With its consistent branding and label messaging, Romio would appeal to British consumers who had previously found the Italian wine fixture "confusing and difficult to navigate", said Caviro general manager Sergio Dagnino.
"The UK Italian wine sector needs strong brands, brands that over-deliver on the price-quality ratio, brands that guide consumers through the nuances of Italian wine styles and brands that are able to compete on shelf with those of the New World," said Dagnino.
However, Bibendum off-trade director Richard Cochrane warned that creating a successful premium pan-Italian wine brand would be "extremely challenging". "If they pull it off, they will be the first to have done so," he said. "A number of businesses have tried and not succeeded at that price point."
One approach could be to tap into Italy's rich culture to help grow the brand, he added. "The paradox is that on the one hand Italy has produced the most famous names in fashion and motoring and is an absolute centre of all things musical there's a very rich vein there which some of the top producers resonate with and yet the vast quantity of Italian wine has no link to that perception of Italy."
Last year, Italian wine sales to the UK slumped 10% because of the recession and competition from New World wines, according to Italy's statistics agency ISTAT.