Eastern European, Indian and Spanish wine sales soar at Laithwaite's

Laithwaite’s is planning a push on eastern European wines after almost doubling sales from the region over the past year.

Beth Willard, buyer for Spain and eastern Europe, told OLN: “At the moment Spain is close to 17% of sales and Eastern Europe is nudging 4%.

“We have almost doubled [eastern European sales] and we currently have big plans to introduce new countries from Eastern Europe.

“We are going back to Bulgaria and looking at Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia. It’s a really exciting part of my portfolio.”

When asked if it could double again to 8% of Laithwaite’s business, she said: “It will take a bit of time but it could do.

“Eastern Europe is still fairly unknown to consumers and we love to tell the stories behind the wines and discover new regions for our customers.”

Laithwaite’s has also added a range of Indian wines from the Sula winery to its offering for UK customers.

The firm’s winemaker Jean-Marc Sauboua believes they could do well in the UK as Indian food is such a staple of British cuisine.

He said: “I went to India with the intention of finding wines for our Indian customers – to show them that there are Indian wines as goods as French and Italian wines – but I just fell in love with the Sula Vineyards, so I just decided to work a little cuvee with them. I was so pleased with these wines I brought them back for UK consumers.

“Indian food is very popular in the UK. But people drink Cobra when they eat it, or maybe Riesling or Gewurtztraminer, which doesn’t really work, so I thought it would be good to sell Indian wine for our customers.

“The food is so popular. If you make good Indian wines that match the food well it can be popular.”

Laithwaite’s has a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and a 2013 Zinfandel and Syrah blend, retailing at £7.99.

Sauboua said: “We started by making two small batches of 400 cases and we will go back and make a lot more if it sells.”

Laithwaite’s has also appointed two new buyers. Robin Langton starts today and will look after Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rhone, Portugal and South America excluding Argentina and Chile.

Langton previously worked as a wine buyer at Naked and before that he was a winemaker at various global wineries including Patz  Hall in California.

Davy Zyw, a former sommelier at le Gavroche, will also join the 10-strong buying team next month. He currently works for Tesco, where he buys Italian wine, bag-in-box and lower alcohol styles.

Abi Hirshfeld, Wine Director at Laithwaite’s Wines, said:  “I am thrilled at the calibre of buyers we will now have at Laithwaite’s, and I am sure that we will continue to source great tasting, authentic wines with real provenance to delight our customers. Our direct, personal relationships with our wine suppliers are central to our ability to buy the very best wines. Having Robin and Davy join the team makes us stronger than ever and I can’t wait for the new team to get started.”

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