World's 50 Best Bars Brands Report: Sparkling wine

23 January, 2013

On day nine of the Brands Report, our spin-off survey of The World's 50 Best Bars, we delve into sparkling wines. So which are hot and which are not?

A cursory glance at the champagne lists and all the big guns are there as you would expect. Moët reigns supreme across both actuals and up-and-coming.

As you look down you note how Ruinart is racing up the trending table and the likes of Pol Roger, Churchill’s favourite tipple (he was quoted as saying: “In victory, deserve it. In defeat, need it!”) and the other champagne ‘royalty’ Krug creep in.

Sparkling wine is more interesting, frankly, and more intriguing. The list is dominated by Spanish cavas and Italian proseccos, which is to be expected.

But Steenberg, a 100% Chardonnay from what is claimed is the oldest grape growing farm in South Africa’s prestigious Constantia district, has crept into the lower orders, which is interesting.

But whether it be down to the effects of the global recession or deep discounting by multiple retailers undermining the premium proposition of champagne, there now seems to be a positive move by consumers towards ‘other sparkling’ wines.

Increasingly, it is less of, or not in the slightest, an embarrassment to offer a glass of sparkling wine other than France’s finest.

Many consumers, certainly in mature markets, have realised that they pay a premium for champagne and of the quality of the liquid does not reflect that additional cost.

The established best sparklers are pretty much what you would expect – the major cava brands, Freixenet and Cordoníu, along with Californian sparkler, Chandon. At the bottom there are a raft of Italian proseccos.

Now looking at the trending sparklers, You see English fizz Nyetimber whizz to the top and Camel Valley sneaking in at the bottom. The idea of premium quality English sparkling wines to rival champagne was laughable up until a few years ago. Now the likes of Nyetimber, Ridgeview and Chapel Down have amassed enough gongs in competitions that discerning drinkers are now taking them very seriously, as are obviously bartenders and bar managers.

Similarly, prosecco is a style that is creeping up on the blind side.

While the major cava producers have chosen to chase volume in the retail sector, which has inevitably led some of their wines being sacrificed on the alter of deep discounting, prosecco has remained smaller and relatively unscathed.

Hence in trending the Italian fizz is more liberally sprinkled in the table, whereas they are all congregated at the bottom of the actuals at the moment.

How we did it

Since we relaunched the World’s 50 Best Bars, we think we’ve built up a pretty fantastic list of top bars and phenomenal bartenders from all over the world.

To create an even better global picture, we also polled 100 of the top 200 bars. When I say ‘we’, it was actually an independent research company called Leslie Henry Marketing & Research.

It’s still growing, make no mistake – and we feel really quite excited about it. So excited in fact, that this year we decided to reinvent the way we conduct the artist formerly known as Hot Bar Brands by polling our very own top 50.

Voices from the team at Leslie Henry could be heard through telephone receivers from Melbourne to Budapest, Edinburgh to Singapore. The team asked the top bars which brands were best-sellers and which were – to borrow from Twitter – trending.

A trending brand might not be doing the same volumes as a best-seller but it’s a brand that customers are increasingly asking for.

We also included a couple of new categories this year – champagne and water – as well as expanding the cocktail questions to include the likes of aperitifs and after-dinner drinks.

The idea is to paint as accurate a picture of what is being consumed in bars around the world as possible.

Respondents – to use the fancy terminology – included bar owners and bartenders from the likes of the best bar in the world, the Artesian, London; PDT, New York; Nightjar, London; Bramble, Edinburgh: Employees Only, New York; Dry Martini, Barcelona; Black Pearl, Melbourne; Asoka, Cape Town; American Bar at the Savoy, London; Tippling Club, Singapore; Palmer & Co, Sydney; Boutiq Bar, Budapest; Chainaya Tea & Cocktails, Russia and Schumann’s Bar, Munich.

Let us know what you think of the survey:

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