Brancott Estate sauvignon gris

Pernod Ricard is launching a sauvignon gris varietal in the UK under its Brancott Estate brand

Pernod Ricard is launching three new wines into the UK market under its Brancott Estate label, including what it claims is the first sauvignon gris varietal from New Zealand.

The company has tipped the varietal, which is traditionally used as a component in white Bordeaux blends, as potentially the “next big thing” in the UK, which could provide an alternative to sauvignon blanc.

Winemaker Jamie Marfell said the grape, which has not been grown commercially in New Zealand before, produces an aromatic and rounded wine, more akin to a chardonnay than sauvignon blanc. It will be available in the summer (rsp: £10.49). 

The company has invested in the vineyards and grows 140 hectares of sauvignon gris, with plans to develop this further. Around 15,000 cases will be released into the UK market, which is the first global market for the wine.

“The UK market is well established and New Zealand wines are very well known here – and consumers expect innovation from New Zealand,” Marfell said.

The company is also introducing a new, mid-priced tier to the Brancott Estate portfolio to encourage consumers to broaden their repertoire of Marlborough wines and trade up.

The new wines – a sauvignon blanc (rsp: £12.49) and pinot noir (rsp: £14.49) from the Awatere Valley in North Marlborough – sit above the existing Classic range and bridge the gap to the more premium Letter Series.

Brancott’s chief winemaker Patrick Materman said the more southerly aspect of the vineyards and cooler coastal climate gave the wines a different expression to the classic Marlborough varietals. “The cooler coastal climate provides a longer growing season and this extended hang time gives the fruit more time to develop flavours, leading to wines of great intensity,” he said.