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Published:  23 July, 2008

By David Williams

Tesco has brushed off criticism from producers in New Zealand who have accused the retailer of devaluing the Marlborough appellation by selling a 3-litre bag-in-box of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The bag-in-box produced by the Cottersbrook winery has caused a storm among producers in Marlborough who fear that the production of cask' wines will undermine the region's much-cherished premium image. The reaction has been so extreme in some cases that Tony Smale, chairman of the Marlborough Economic Development Trust, felt compelled to ask for the development of a European-style appellation system, to, among other things, prevent cask wines being produced in the area. Speaking at the Tesco autumn press tasting last week, Phil Reedman MW, the retailer's product-development manager for New Zealand dismissed the furore. It shows a deep misunderstanding of the UK market, where bag-in-box has a totally different image,' Reedman told Harpers. It's unfortunate and surprising that New Zealand, which has been at the forefront of innovations in closures and in getting screwcaps accepted, cannot understand and get behind bag-in-box.' It's a shame,' added PR manager and product-development manager Helen McGinn. We launched the wine three weeks ago, and it's already selling 100 cases a week. We feel that to spend 20 on a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc shows a huge commitment to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.' Reedman and McGinn were in London with the rest of the Tesco wine team to help the retailer launch its latest autumn wine list. The list includes a five-strong range of 4.99 Californian own-label reserve wines, a raft of new South Africans and a continuing commitment to screwcap.