"Brazil is the country to watch in the winemaking world"

A leading distributor has tipped Brazil as a future powerhouse in the winemaking world.

Matt Davies, managing director of Coe Vintners, said: “It is an interesting country and there will be a lot of focus on it with the upcoming Olympics in Rio and the World Cup.

“All of South America is doing well. Argentina is going to be interesting and Chile will continue to expand.

“We are lucky to have the first South American MW, Junior Vianna, a Brazilian, so he will be driving that for us.

 “I would say the New World is where we will see growth.”

Coe Vintners reported an annual turnover of £75 million, and Davies believes future growth will come from its premium spirits arm Mangrove UK, and from Barwell & Jones, an independent wine agency it set up as part of the Coe group a few years ago.

It works with premium wineries across the globe and represents their brands exclusively throughout the UK. It has listings in independents across the country. 

Davies said: “We have some great plans for Barwell & Jones. It has a turnover of around £6 million annually but we think we can really increase that.

“We have no ambition to be Tesco’s biggest supplier. We have steered quite clear of the big four.

“We are growing it with smaller independent groups. We have an ex-sommelier who goes into off licences up and down the country. He’s called Angus McNab. We can get him to visit OLN readers stores if they like.

“That’s where we see growth – in the independent sector.

“That’s one of the benefits of being privately owned and 75 years old: we are not in a rush.

“Barwell & Jones does not have entry level wines – on the shelf prices start at £6.99. We are targeting a certain segment of the off-trade.”

Davies admits that trading conditions are tough at the moment, but sees premium wines in the off-trade going from strength to strength.

“People are continuing to experiment,” he said. “There has been a poor harvest in many countries and it’s going to be hard for retailers to continue with their aggressive pricing strategy. And if minimum unit pricing comes in and the health lobby continues there will be a premiumisation in what people are drinking at home.”

Coe Vintners' commercial director Nick Gillett added: “It’s been interesting to read about a lot of doom and gloom, with Waverley ceasing to exist, and I wouldn’t deny that trade is hard, but London is buoyant. I am not convinced it’s as bad as everyone makes out.”

Educating customers and retailers alike on the benefits of premium wine is key to Coe Vintners in their plans to expand Barwell & Jones.

Davies said: “Majestic are very good at education and if you saw more of that in independents I think they would sell more. It helps build up a loyal customer base.”

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