Buyers forecast continued growth

Although sales have dipped a little, there

are still plenty of positive vibes out there, reveals Christine Boggis

Buyers are tipping rosé sales

to keep growing this year, but say that big brands and countries such as Australia and Spain aren't doing as much in the category as they could be.

"Rosé sales have grown year on year for several years in a row, and at a rate ahead of most other categories," says Majestic buyer Camilla Bordewich. "We anticipate that it will be another strong year for rosé sales, with several new wines in the pipeline - and if we get a sunny summer rosé sales will benefit enormously."

Tesco product development manager James Griswood says: "Rosé wines continue to perform well for us and remain one of our best performing categories. I expect rosé to continue to be a growth category as customers increase their consumption level of rosé wines. Rosé continues to grow its percentage share of the total wine market and that will continue into 2009-2010."

Other buyers are more cautious. Vicky Wood, category development manager for wine at the Co-operative, says rosé sales there are still growing at about 12% - but that two years ago they were growing at 25%.

Category expansion

"The category share for rosé has increased from 8.2% to 11.5%, so growth will inevitably slow, and this level of growth is higher than either red or white wine,"

Wood says. "The trend for rosé over the

past few years has been growing, but at a slightly diminishing rate, and I expect this pattern to continue this year."

Oddbins' French wine buyer Richard Verney saw a pink sales surge with the spring-like weather of late March, but doesn't expect to see a real increase in sales until this month.

"We have just changed our fill of Oddbins Own Rosé to what we believe is a

high quality, value-for-money product and expect to see

support for this new wine. We have been carrying out range reviews and are anticipating sales to grow strongly over the course of the year. Our highlights include an off-dry rosé from Pasqua in Italy at £3.99 and a Côtes de Provence Rosé called Cabaret at £7.99."

For this year, he tips France, Italy and South Africa for sales success. "We are expecting strong sales from our entry-level rosé offerings from France, Italy and South Africa. At the more premium end, we expect sales to remain mainly in France with the likes of Sancerre Rosé and Côtes de Provence.

"We are expecting a decrease in sales of inexpensive Californian rosé and the shortfall to be taken up by inexpensive Italian rosés," Verney add s.

Majestic sources rosés from all over the world, and Bordewich says quality is improving across the board. "In the past they were seen as a sideline or by-product, whereas now they tend to be made in a quality conscious way in a wide range of styles," she says.

In Tesco, Californian rosés and sweeter styles from other countries are driving sales and growth.

"Drier styles of rosé are increasing alongside the total category growth, but still remain a smaller part of the total rosé category," says Griswood.

" Spain could be performing better as it has the raw material and winemaking infrastructure to produce great value rosé in large quantities. Regions aside, I'm surprised that the large wine brands

(excluding Gallo and Blossom Hill ) haven't grown rosé as much as they could.

"I feel there could be some underlying wine-purist snobbery from these brands, not wanting to launch a rosé with similar residual sugar levels to Gallo or Blossom Hill. Like it or loathe it, high levels of residual sugar are what the 'mass market' customer wants from a rosé," he says.

In the Co-op, the US also remains dominant. Wood says: "Rosé from the USA sells well, with white Grenache and Zinfandel still proving popular with shoppers. The USA is still the largest country for rosé wines, but growth has also been coming from a range of other countries including Italy, South Africa and France. Australia is undertrading in rosé versus its total wine share."

What is your hot pink tip for this year?

Richard Verney, Oddbins

"I like nothing more than a Sancerre rosé and we have an exceptional one from Etienne de Loury, but if I'm not feeling quite so flash I will be drinking the Château Fontvert rosé from Côtes du Luberon."

James Griswood, Tesco

"I wouldn't tip any particular region

and I don't believe any particular 'new' style will be the fashion of this year. Rosé is going to continue to grow at a fast rate because it is offering

customers a style of wine that they want to drink - an off-dry, fruity wine. This is the style that's going to continue driving the category during 2009

and 2010."

Vicky Wood,

the Co-op

"The Co-operative has a fantastic new Fairtrade rosé from the Mendoza Vineyards in Argentina. The new aromatic Fairtrade rosé is made from 100% Malbec grapes and shows soft notes of strawberry and raspberry on the palate. It's the perfect apéritif, and also works well as an accompaniment to light tomato-based pasta dishes and pizza.

As well as receiving a fair price for their grapes, the Fairtrade growers receive a Fairtrade social premium. The Fairtrade project in Mendoza works to improve the living standards in the local areas, providing sports clubs and a crèche, supporting the local schools and developing a park for the local community."

Camilla Bordewich, Majestic

"The strength of the category is its variety - from lovely pale, cherry-scented Italian rosés, to full-bodied Chilean Cabernet rosé and everything in between. France is still an important part of the category, with Bordeaux rosés remaining popular, and interesting parcels of Pinot Noir rosé, a very elegant organic Côtes de Provence rosé, and many others."