LIKE cider, wine has in recent years been seen as one of the most successful drink categories. In 2011 it registered just under 5% growth – a little ahead of liquor in total.
But last year was tough and if you add all the sales of the 15 best-selling wines in Scottish take-home together you get just over £144m.
The year before, the same wines achieved more than £148m.
And once again the Nielsen figures show that the biggest names weren’t immune to decline last year.
2011’s wine leader in the Scottish off-trade Blossom Hill dropped 10% in sales value over the year. It meant the brand lost the top position to the Hardys brand which had been a close second and last year managed to restrict its 2012 decline to 6%.
But many of the biggest names in wine saw their sales through Scottish licensed stores fall last year.
Echo Falls was down a percentage point, as was Jacob’s Creek. Wolf Blass was down 10%. Kumala dropped 3%. Sales of First Cape were found by Nielsen to have dropped by 32% and Arniston Bay fell 29%.
In comparison brands such as Lindemans (up 8%), McGuigan (up 9%) and JP Chenet (up 11%) can be seen to have done very well.
But also doing well are wines from Chile and Spain, wine regions that many writers and wine critics have identified as providing good quality at very competitive prices.
And Chilean wine Isla Negra was certainly one of the strongest performers in Scotland last year. With sales growth of 29% it was the 2012 star wine.
Vina Albali, based in central Spain, was another winner last year with 20% sales growth. And established Chilean brand Concha y Toro saw a 4% increase.
A huge proportion of wine sales goes through the supermarkets, of course. And in days of old much of it was sold in multibuy deals. The fact that consumers now effectively get a deal on a single bottle purchase may be affecting the volumes sold and the sales figures that can be realised.
But as Scottish wine consumers look for value and quality across a wider variety of brands and countries all retailers may have to be careful to take note.
Wines: top 15 – on moving annual total sales at week ending 05.01.13
Many of the big name wine firms with origins in the United States and Australia still dominate c-store wine sales. But some of the best sales growth in what was a difficult year for wine in the Scottish off-trade came from other brands including the Chilean wine firms of Isla Negra and Concha y Toro and Vina Albali in Valdepenas in central Spain.