Törley, Hungaryʼs market leader in sparkling wines, has launched a new dry pezsgő product aimed at helping wean customers away from sweeter bubbly towards the dry end of the spectrum.
Törley Muscosecco is a champers made from Cserszegi Fűszeres grapes, but instead of adding sugar (as is traditional) to make up the sweetness so beloved by most Magyar revelers, the cellar masters have blended in juice from the Irsai Olivér grape. While technically the result is a dry sparkler with just 20 grams of sugar per liter – the muscat-like notes and aromas disguise the dryness, making it “feel” like a sweeter product to the imbiber.
“There is a big part of consumers, typically aged 30-35, who want to change from sweet to dry, [but] this step for some is huge, because they [yearn] for sweetness,” György Kovács, Törley’s chairman told the Budapest Business Journal in an interview.
“Törley Muscosecco is dry, but to compensate for the [reduction in] sugar, with this very good aroma, this very aromatic taste, [the customer] does not have any feeling of.… sacrifice,” he said.
The aim is to create a “bridge” product, enabling pezsgő drinkers to more easily move on to drier wines as their palates mature.
“We belong to the Mediterranean countries [in terms of taste]; round about 60% of Hungarians drink sweet sparkling wines. Perhaps they will drink [Muscosecco] for two, three, maybe five years – and after this, they can change to a normal dry,” Kovács said. “You know, with age, the human taste tends to like more dry, and we want to offer them exactly this chance.”
Officially released only in November, this “dry-but-sweet” bubbly is expected to retail at some HUF 1,000 – an affordable, mid-range price in terms of the domestic sparkling wine market.
However, a late November search around the shelves of two Budapest supermarkets, one Tesco, one Spar, failed to locate an example of this latest effervescent concoction.
“Törley Muscosecco will be in stock at Tesco from December. We [believe it will be]... a bridge between sweet and dry sparkling wine and a good way to introduce customers to a less sweet product,” the Tesco press office assured the BBJ in response to enquiries.
That will make it in time for the Christmas-New Year buying frenzy – famously making December the key month for sales of champagne, regardless of brand. Tesco, for example, reports 40% of annual sparkling wine sales in the last four weeks of the year.
It should also justify Törley – which claims 70% by value of the domestic sparkling wine market – popping a few of its own pezsgő corks at the staff Christmas party. Total sales (including still wines) in 2017 nudged the HUF 19 billion mark, and are on course for a 4.1% rise this year, in part based on increasing sales of high-end brands.
“We also see that customers rather choose pricey products/brands than cheaper ones… and... they prefer well-known brands like Törley,” the Tesco press office wrote, confirming this trend.
Not that the Budafok-based Törley can rest easy. As Mark Maczelka, head of communications at Spar Magyarország Kereskedelmi Kft., points out, seven international brands (Martini, Gancia, Garrone, Cinzano, Veuve, Moet and Dom Perignon) jostle for space with domestic champers on its supermarket shelves.
And, he says, sales “are growing”, even if, so far, their market share is unchanged.