C&C refocuses on Gilbeys at tasting day

Some 33 tables of wines, spirits, beers and farmhouse produce offered visitors to this year’s Gilbeys Wines & Spirits tasting a wide selection from its portfolio by way of what’s on offer from the C&C Group’s wine arm (which C&C took over as part of its purchase of the Gleeson Group three years ago).

The well-attended 2016 review was held in the Radisson Hotel in Dublin’s Golden Lane and provided customers the opportunity to meet with Gilbeys’ recently-expanded staff together with many of the wine producers themselves who’d come over specially for the event.

“This tasting is the first step in establishing Gilbeys – which has operated from 1850 to the present – as the best wine distribution company in Ireland,” explained C&C Gleeson’s Managing Director Tom McCusker at the event, “We’re already the biggest wine distributor in the country”.

In taking over Gleeson’s it became one of the biggest non-alcoholic beverage distribution businesses in the on-trade in the country too.

Gilbeys staff had been busy setting up the tasting from early that morning. For that – and for the work put in in helping refocus Gilbeys over the past six months – Tom McCusker paid tribute to those involved and in particular to Finbarr O’Doherty, Gilbeys’ new General Manager who only joined the company about four months ago to set about transforming Gilbeys’ wine business.

“In the last six months we’ve placed a lot of focus on Gilbeys only to realise its real worth – it’s a gem,” stated Tom McCusker, “Gilbeys has a very warm feeling about it among our customers and among consumers generally.”

One of the exhibiting wine companies, Treasury Wine Estates, only got possession of the Blossom Hill range from Diageo on January 1st this year as part of the sell-off of Diageo’s wines in the US according to Jake Cole, Treasury Wine’s Country Manager for Ireland.

Since then however the company has been working hard on a new marketing strategy for the label which will see new packaging coming in here this Summer or Autumn.

In taking on the Blossom Hill brand TWE doubled the size of its UK business from around 3.5 million to 7 million cases, said Jake.

“Blossom Hill is indicatively the Number 2 wine brand in the off-trade in the Irish market according to Nielsen stats MAT to September 2015,” he said, adding that it was also available in 187ml quarter-bottle format, a format that sells between 1,000 and 2,000 nine-litre cases here at present.

“Interestingly Blossom Hill is actually the market leader for 187ml bottles in the UK market” he added, “so I’m sure there’s more opportunity for Blossom Hill to perform in Ireland as well.”

Elsewhere at the tasting, Joe Roberts, Export Manager UK & Ireland for Yellowtail, explained that the label, owned by the Casella Group, hoped to have its entire range available in quarter bottle for the UK and Irish trade by the end of the year. This would include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Shiraz and Cab Sauv.

Over on the Santa Rita table Tom Gaskin was overseeing tastings of the Santa Rita range including its 120 Sauvignon Blanc, Secret Reserve Maipo, Casa Real Old Vine Cab Sauv, Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cab Sauv, Hacienda Riesling, Central Valley Merlot, Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere, Carmen Premier Reserva Chardonnay and Carmen Winemaker’s Carmenere.

The Cab Suav, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauv Blanc are currently available in quarter-bottle format and what’s more, the company would not be averse to running to a private label selection for the on-trade if volume was sufficient, hinted Tom.

Gracing the Reh Kendermann table was a selection of the company’s increasingly successful low alcohol wines including its Bend in the River and Black Tower labels.

Responding to the demand for low alcohol wines, Black Tower’s ‘B’ range comprises B Secco sparkling white and rosé, aimed at the female market, as well as B Still and the forthcoming B Fruitful (with passion-fruit and pomegranite). The company is also working on B Zero. Some of the B range of low alcohol wines are also to be made available in quarter-bottle format.



Sign Up for Drinks Industry Ireland

Get a free weekly update on Drinks Industry trade news, direct to your inbox. Sign up now, it's free