Australia named ‘Country of Honour’ for Hong Kong wine expo

Australian wine will take centre stage at Vinexpo Hong Kong, as Australia has been selected as the Country of Honour for the exhibition in May 2018.

Held in the wine hub of Asia, Vinexpo Hong Kong is the key trade-only wine and spirits exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region. The invite only event attracts top decision making importers, buyers and sommeliers, and provides a forum for education and trade networking.

“This is a brilliant opportunity to shine the light on the diversity and premium quality of Australian wine. Greater China is our number one and fastest growing export market, so Australia taking the title of Country of Honour will help strengthen our position in the market, and enable us to showcase the breadth of fine Australian wine to some of the most influential people in the region,” said Andreas Clark, CEO of Wine Australia.

As Country of Honour, Australia will have the privilege of hosting a range of masterclasses to immerse attendees in the broad Australian wine offering. There will also be a dedicated tasting area and educational activities being held during the exhibition.

“Vinexpo is very proud to host Australia as country of honour for the 20th anniversary of the fair in Hong Kong. The connection with Wine of Australia reflects the growing appetency of Asian consumers for Australian wines, and Vinexpo’s objective to enhance the dynamism of the Australian wine industry at the exhibition,” said Guillaume Deglise, CEO of Vinexpo.

China is Australia’s number one export market by value, having overtaken the US in September 2016. China and Hong Kong together account for 28 per cent of all Australia’s wine exports, while Asia in total accounts for 39 per cent.

At Vinexpo Hong Kong 2016 there was over 17,200 buyers from 24 countries and 1,300 exhibitors from all over the world.

Top visiting countries at the event include China (including Hong Kong), South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam. Exports of Australian wine to these six top visiting countries accounted for a combined $715 million in 2016 and have increased by 79% in value since 2014. All markets have been growing strongly over the past few years, with exports to China and Hong Kong nearly doubling in value since 2014.

Vinexpo will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 29 – 31 May 2018 and will be followed by Wine Australia’s China Roadshow, which takes Australian winemakers around China.

Crowd-sourced equity funding campaign a first for Cracka Wines

Online wine retailer Cracka Wines has announced plans to raise $5m from its 250,000 customers through a crowd-sourced equity funding campaign.

Leveraging recent changes in government legislation, Cracka CEO Dean Taylor (pictured) has appointed Equitise to manage what will be Australia’s first and largest major crowd-sourced funding raise when the bill is enacted later this year. The move comes as the company prepares to expand its direct-to-consumer marketplace into Asia.

“Since its launch in 2010, Cracka has been committed to building a marketplace that allows consumers to connect directly with producers, cutting out the middleman and releasing value that can be shared between them. We’ve developed a robust, highly scalable technology platform that produces significant sales volumes for our winery partners here in Australia. It’s time to expand our horizons to allow the small and medium wineries that we work with to sell to consumers all around the world,” said Taylor.

“Giving our most loyal customers the opportunity to invest aligns with our longer term vision to take the company public. While we are too small to do this just yet, we see a crowd sourced funding raise through a platform like Equitise as the first step in this direction. It’s a great vehicle for a pre-IPO round providing both expansion capital and diversifying our investor pool.”

Equitise, which has raised over $20 million of capital for 27 different companies through their New Zealand platform to date. Cracka Wines’ crowd-sourced equity funding campaign is the first of its kind in Australia.

“Cracka Wines is an innovative business with a brand that punches well above its weight. They have a large and highly engaged database of active customers who we expect will jump at the chance to invest. It’s important that our first retail offer in Australia is not only wildly successful but also a business which has a well-established brand and profile in the market, so we were very excited when they approached us to run this process for them,” said Chris Gilbert, co-founder and director of Equitise.

Equitise co-founder Jonny Wilkinson also praised the government for taking a huge step forward in support of Australian innovation. “Equity crowd funding has been a long time coming in Australia and will allow companies like Cracka Wines to better utilise their customer and supplier networks for growth and expansion,” he said.

According to CEO Dean Taylor, customers who choose to invest in Cracka will also enjoy a range of shareholder benefits. “We expect most of the interest and demand will come from our most active and loyal customers, so makes sense to give them priority access, preferential pricing and invitations to special events,” he said.


Challenging perceptions of Australian wine in Japan

Japan’s first Master of Wine Kenichi Ohashi shared his enthusiasm for the ‘New Australia’ with influential trade and media in Tokyo at a sold-out Wine Australia master class on 23 May.

The dynamic New Australia master class and networking event made a pivotal statement in one of Australian wine’s key markets, presenting new and unexpected elements of Australian wine to challenge perceptions and build enthusiasm for all Australian wine.

Last year, as a guest of Wine Australia, Kenichi Ohashi MW explored first-hand the new trends in Australian wine and met with Australian wine figures. His experience inspired him to convey the vision, dynamism and creativity of Australia’s wine community back to the Japanese wine trade.

“My visit to Australia last December was an eye-opening experience, which excited me but also humbled me about the need to always keep up with the fast changes that occur with Australian wine, said Kenichi Ohashi MW.

“I led the New Australia master class based on my convictions that understanding Australian wine is key for Japan’s wine professional community to become more international – a transition which many of us in Japan feel we need to achieve rather quickly.”

The New Australia master class was Wine Australia’s first paid-admission trade event in Japan and was sold-out with 100 wine trade and media guests in attendance.

The wines presented at the New Australia master class:

  • Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2008
  • Express Winemakers Great Southern Tempranillo 2016
  • Jauma McLaren Vale Pet Nat Chenin 2016
  • Jilly ‘Big Cats’ New England Touriga blend 2016
  • Koerner ‘Rolle’ Clare Valley Vermentino 2016
  • Mayer Yarra Valley Cabernet 2016
  • Rockford ‘Basket Press’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010
  • Swinging Bridge ‘#003 by Tom Ward’ Orange 2016
  • Thomas Wines Cellar Reserve ‘Braemore’ Hunter Valley Semillon 2010
  • Tolpuddle Vineyard Tasmania Pinot Noir 2015
  • Vasse Felix ‘Heytesbury’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2014
  • Yarra Yering Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2015

Victoria launches Wine Industry Development Strategy

Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford has launched the Wine Industry Development Strategy and round two of the Wine Growth Fund.

The four year strategy will help winemakers capture new opportunities and address challenges the industry has experienced in trading and production over the past decade.

The strategy is structured around four key ‘platforms’ which address issues such as developing profitable and sustainable export markets, increasing industry coordination, and adapting to business and production challenges.

In addition, the Government is backing the strategy with the Wine Growth Fund, which supports projects from the vineyard to the cellar door to grow Victoria’s wine industry.

The second round of the Wine Growth Fund announced today will see a total of $893,000 provided to the wine industry across the state. Grants will align with industry priorities as reflected in the strategy.

“Victoria’s wine is among the world’s best, producing a broad range of wine styles in unique and diverse geographic settings, making it well placed for a successful future,” said Pulford.

Wine Victoria Chair, Damien Sheehan said that the strategy was more than 18 months in the making and mapped the way industry and government had agreed to work together to ensure Victoria was the best wine state in Australia.

“The industry has gone through some difficult times in recent years but all the signs are that we are well on the way to blowing the bad times out of the water,” he said

“We have increasing grape prices, record exports into China and a growing number of visitors heading to cellar doors – this strategy aims to ensure the winemakers and grapegrower can make the most of these opportunities.”

Labelling plays significant role in wine choice – research

Research by the University of Adelaide has shown that consumers are much more influenced by wine label descriptions than previously thought.

A consumer study by wine researchers at the University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine has shown that far more than just influencing consumer choice, wine descriptions can alter consumer emotions, increase their wine liking and encourage them to pay more for a bottle. The study has been published in the journal Food Research International.

“Choosing the right wine at the point of sale whether in a wine store, in a restaurant or online can be a difficult task,” says project leader Associate Professor Sue Bastian.

“The importance of wine labels and label information has been widely studied and it’s been clearly shown that they represent useful information which influences consumer choice. Our study extends these findings, showing that wine descriptions also influence our whole wine consumption experience.”

“Cleverly written wine and producer descriptions when coupled with unbranded wine tasting can evoke more positive emotions, increasing our positive perception of the wine, our estimation of its quality and the amount we would be willing to pay for it.”

The researchers conducted a study with Australian white wines and 126 regular white wine consumers. The consumersevaluated the same set of three commercially available white wines (Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc) under three information levels: a blind tasting with no information; the provision of a basic sensory description; and provision of an elaborate/emotional description.

The presentation of more elaborate wine descriptions, which included information regarding winery history and positive wine quality statements, significantly increased the preference rating the consumers allocated to the wines.

Further to this, the results showed that if the expectations elicited by the wine description closely matched the actual liking from tasting, consumers felt far more positive emotions than if it didn’t meet expectations.

“These findings have important implications for wine producers and the hospitality industry in that descriptions require more than just wine tasting notes,” says Dr Lukas Danner, post-doctoral research fellow and first author on the study. “Companies could even consider involving consumers in label description optimisation.”

This research was funded by Australian grapegrowers and winemakers through Wine Australia with matching funds from the Australian Government.

Wine Communicator Awards open for entries

Entries are now open for WCA’s prestigious annual Wine Communicator of the Year Awards, which this year will be offered in 10 categories.

Following judges feedback in 2016, both the ‘Best Wine Book’ and ‘Best Wine Publication’ will this year be split in to two distinct categories, technical and trade, and consumer. A new category has also been developed for Best Wine Public Relations Campaign.

“We felt it necessary to split the two awards into different categories, to better reflect the technical and trade and consumer media industries,” said WCA National Chair Angus Barnes.

“The introduction of the Best Wine Public Relations Campaign Award also highlights the great work being produced for wine brands across the nation.

“We look forward to reviewing this year’s entries and the quality standard of work consistently being produced in the wine media industry.”

Entries are sought in the following categories, with the overall Wine Communicator of the Year selected from category winners.

  • Best Wine Book Award (Trade, Technical)
  • Best Wine Book Award (Consumer)
  • Best Wine Publication Award (Trade, Technical)
  • Best Wine Publication Award (Consumer)
  • Digital Wine Communicator of the Year Award
  • Best Wine Website or Wine App Award
  • Best Published Feature Articles or Column Award
  • Best Wine Educator Award
  • Best Public Relations Campaign
  • New Wine Writer of the Year

Entries close on Thursday 31 August 2017, with winners to be announced at a special presentation night in Sydney on Wednesday 1 November 2017, which will be sponsored by Riedel Australia.

The annual WCA Wine Communicator Awards recognise outstanding contribution to, and excellence in, wine communication in all its forms. In each category, a short list of finalists is reviewed and selected by the panel of expert judges. A winner is then chosen in consultation with WCA Board. The overall Wine Communicator of the Year is then chosen from the category winners.


Tyson Stelzer drops under $10 category from his top 150 picks

Wine critic Tyson Stelzer released his Australian and New Zealand Wines of the Year 2017 list on 4 June.

Stelzer picked out his top selections out of more than 2,500 wineries in Australia, and 800 in New Zealand.

“Australia drinks more than 700 million bottles of wine every year, and among these there are more varieties, more brands and more regions to get your head around than ever. Inevitably, growing diversity sadly means there are more mediocre wines to avoid,” he wrote upon releasing the list.

“And yet in the midst of this maelstrom the truly great wines have never shone brighter. Grand estates small and large, fastidiously tending dramatic terroirs; resilient folk toiling season after season, outfacing the ever more dramatic extremes of this great south land, painstakingly coaxing their fragile fruits into remarkable wines.”

For the first year, Stelzer has not recommended any wines under $10. He noted that with the cost of production, he wanted to focus on premium wine production, and that “there are no great wines under $10”.

Stelzer, is a multi-award winning wine writer, television presenter and international speaker. He was named The International Wine & Spirit Communicator of the Year 2015 in the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

Oakridge wines, who were listed twice on the list, noted that: “Inclusion in his annual report is a great honour for our winery.”


China gets on board the Australian wine roadshow express

More than 2000 of China’s wine buyers, trade and media attended the 2017 Wine Australia China Roadshow, which came to an end Friday a week ago.

Exhibitors praised another successful roadshow event in Australia’s most valuable export market that saw guests demonstrate a growing understanding of Australian wine and curiosity to try new styles and discover new regions.

Some exhibitors have already uncovered promising commercial leads as a result of participating in this year’s Roadshow, the largest yet since Wine Australia first hosted it in 2012.

Wine Australia partnered with Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA) during the Roadshow, to highlight the food and wines of South Australia to the China market.

A networking dinner was also held in Beijing with more than 100 people joining, including exhibitors, media, educators and trade. Before the dinner, PIRSA held a cocktail media launch to announce Adelaide’s official inclusion as a ‘Great Wine Capital’.

“The master class on ultra-premium Shiraz not only showcased the styles of Shiraz that we are familiar with, but also the lesser-known but equally good quality Shiraz styles from cool climate regions, again demonstrating the diversified styles of Australian wine,” said Li Demei, Beijing University of Agriculture Professor and renowned Chinese winemaker and blogger.

Pinnacle wins big at international Shiraz/Syrah wine competition

Pinnacle Drinks, the brand supplier to the Endeavour Drinks Group of retail brands, has won four of Australia’s nine gold medals at Syrah du Monde, including a  spot in the top ten.

“Australian wine had a fantastic showing at the awards, taking home nine of the 33 gold medals given out by the judges showing once again the quality of wine we can produce from this grape variety in Australia,” said Chris Baddock, General Manager for Pinnacle Drinks.

“Pinnacle wines were awarded four gold and two silver medals which reflects the incredible work our winemakers have done in crafting their arts for customers of BWS, Dan Murphy’s, and Cellarmasters.”

Gold medals were awarded to the following Pinnacle wines:

  • Mockingbird Hill Slate Lane Clare Valley Shiraz 2015
  • The Cat Amongst The Pigeons Fat Cat Barossa Shriaz 2015
  • Krondorf Symmetry Barossa Shiraz 2014
  • Mc Lean’s Farm Master Barossa Shiraz 2014

In addition, silver medals went to Blood Brother Republic Mc Laren Vale KG Vineyard Shiraz 2014; and Tolley Elite Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2014.

“In total, 372 wine samples from 26 countries were tasted over two days of judging. We congratulate and commend the quality of our Australian colleagues for achieving such a fantastic result and demonstrating once again why Shiraz remains Australia’s most popular red wine,” Baddock said.

Artisans of Australian Wine crowned Trade Drinks Event of the Year

Wine Australia’s Artisans of Australian Wine tasting has won Trade Drinks Event of the Year in the UK’s Drinks Business Awards 2017.

Unveiled every year at the London Wine Fair, The Drinks Business Awards recognise and reward top performers across the international drinks sector. The competition, now in its 15th year, covers all sectors of the drinks trade including retail, distribution, logistics and marketing.

Winners were announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 23 May at the Olympia exhibition centre in west London. Hosted by Patrick Schmitt MW, Editor-in-Chief at trade publication The Drinks Business, the event was attended by the sector’s most influential figures.

Wine Australia won the trophy ‘Trade Drinks Event of the Year’ for its Artisans of Australian Wine event, held in London in September 2016. It was the first UK trade tasting to focus solely on new-wave Australian craft winemakers, a different approach to normal trade tastings. A nightclub in London’s trendy Shoreditch and 23 artisan winemakers ensured that perceptions about Australian wine were challenged while diversity and difference were celebrated.

“Winning Trade Drinks Event of the Year for our Artisans tasting is an incredible achievement and very rewarding as it reflects our efforts in promoting Australian wine,” said Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia Head of Market EMEA.

“By creating a different and unexpected event, we demonstrated that Australia is a modern, relevant category for the trade, and a country that offers diverse and exciting craft wines. Big thanks to the Aussie winemakers that came over and helped make this event a success.”

Australia’s First Families of Wine heading back to US

As part of its continued commitment to spruiking the quality Australian wine message at home and around the globe, this month Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) is heading back to the USA for the second time in two years, as part of Wine Australia’s Spring Roadshow – Australia Up Close.

AFFW is made up of twelve of this country’s oldest multi-generational, family owned wineries who between them share 1380 years of collective winemaking experience across 50 generations and 16 regions around Australia.

Following on from this month’s budget announcement of the allocation of a $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package over four years to grow the value of wine exports and wine tourism at home and abroad, it appears that AFFW is ahead of the curve.

Launching in 2009, AFFW has already independently funded launches in the UK; Canada, twice; top tier cities in China and Hong Kong and they are heading back to the USA later this month, to educate media, trade and consumers about quality Aussie wine.

This announcement is a boon to the Australian industry overall.  And it plays to what AFFW stands for: rich history, provenance, quality and as the custodians of some of the most iconic vineyards in the land, AFFW is perfectly positioned to tell their tales of the past and point to their innovation for the future.

Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resource in the Turnbull Government, has long been a champion of the Australian wine industry and is delighted to have been instrumental in securing the $50 million funding for the next four years, to focus Wine Australia’s efforts in export markets and consolidate success at home.

Senator the Hon Anne Ruston said, “It’s been great to work with the wine industry to secure this funding and help put more Australian wine on dinner tables around the world. We’re an exporting nation – we’re not going to get rich selling to ourselves. The commitment of Australia’s First Families of Wine to this effort is a stellar example of the industry moving quickly and decisively to leverage the opportunity this funding represents.”


Vic Govt confirms support for Victorian Liquor Subsidy

Wine Victoria has welcomed confirmation from the Victorian Government that the Victorian Liquor Subsidy (VLS – also known as the Cellar Door rebate) will remain intact and unchanged.

Wine Victoria Chair, Damien Sheehan said Victoria was now the only state with this level of industry support and was just another demonstration of how the Government was supporting Victorian winemakers and making sure Victoria was the best place to do business.

“Wine Victoria took a proactive role in engaging with Members of Parliament (MPs) and responsible departments on this issue,” Sheehan said.

“We wanted to make sure MP’s clearly understood how the rebate was being invested and the significant knock-on economic impacts – particularly in regional areas,” he said.

When reviewing the VLS, Wine Victoria engaged expert assistance to examine the subsidy and evaluate how the rebate was being used.

They found that subsidy recipients generated $680 million in gross state product annually and supported almost 5,000 ongoing full-time equivalent jobs (direct and indirect).

“This ongoing investment into cellar doors is so important – the Victorian visitor experience is often focused on big natural icons, but for a strong economic impact to be realised, providing access to value-add experiences such as an exceptional cellar doors is key,” Sheehan said.

“With the continuation of this subsidy, the Victorian wine industry looks forward to working in partnership with the Government on their tourism objectives by delivering first class wine experiences.”

Chinese winemaking students flock to Adelaide

Scores of Chinese students are heading to South Australia to study winemaking to fuel China’s huge domestic wine industry.

The University of Adelaide has seen an almost three-fold increase in Chinese enrolments in the past five years in its winemaking courses, which are the most comprehensive university courses for viticulture and oenology in Australia.

The university in the South Australian capital offers a four-year Bachelor degree in Viticulture and Oenology as well as a postgraduate Diploma and Masters courses.

It has about 280 students across the three courses, 41 per cent of whom are Chinese. In 2016 there were 114 students from China studying Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Adelaide compared with just 44 in 2013. Numbers for 2017 are yet to be finalised because of the upcoming mid-year intake.

“That’s a significant change in five years,” School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Associate Professor Paul Grbin said.

“About 90 per cent of our international students now are from China and that’s primarily in our post graduate programs but we have a reasonable percentage in our undergraduate programs too.

“Our numbers have grown overall as well so we are not getting fewer international students from our traditional markets such as the United States, Canada, South Africa, South America and a few Europeans.”

According to the Organisation of Vine and Wine Australia was the fifth largest wine-producing nation, making close to 1.3 billion litres. China was sixth with an estimated 1.15 billion litres.

China last year overtook the United States to become the biggest buyer of Australian wine following a 40 per cent growth in sales for 2016. Exports of wine to mainland China rose from AU$370 million in 2015 to $520 million in 2016.

Despite the huge size of the imported wine market in China, about 80 per cent of the wine consumed there is produced domestically.

“The local industry now has a bigger vineyard area than Australia and they are striving to improve and part of that is a thirst for knowledge so they’re moving to countries like Australia to learn best practice,” Assoc Prof Grbin said.

“There’s definitely a sense when I talk to the (Chinese) students that there’s excitement around the development of the industry in China and there are plenty of good opportunities for them when they graduate to work not only in China but in the international wine trade.

“There’s certainly a recognition in China that wine has become an important business proposition so it’s on the strength of that that we have seen an increase in students coming not only for us in oenology and viticulture but also in the wine business program.”

Post graduate student Huiyi Hu came to Adelaide to gain more practical winemaking experience.

“I studied winemaking for four years in China from 2010 but I didn’t learn how to make real wine,” she said.

“I wanted to know more about winemaking so I came here where the course is good.

“Here I make my wine in a winery and solve any problems with group discussions, rather than just following instructions.”

In December, the University of Adelaide revealed preliminary plans to expand its teaching and research winery to cater for growing demand.

The university has also had remarkable success with a free online MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), World of Wine: From Grape to Glass, which has been studied by almost 80,000 students from more than 160 countries.

The course, originally offered on the edX platform and also affectionately known as Wine101x, has been translated into Chinese in partnership with Chinese MOOC platform XuetangX.

In China, more than 4600 students enrolled in the first six-week course and another 14,300 have enrolled in the ongoing self-paced course.

“It’s not a direct marketing ploy to increase the number of students coming to the university to study wine but it certainly does raise the university’s profile in China,” Assoc Prof Grbin said.

“It’s also about providing a service – certainly as China develops its wine culture there’s a real desire to understand wine a bit more and this MOOC is a pretty straight forward and simple approach to develop a solid understanding of how grapes are grown and wine is made.

“I can only envisage that it will more and more popular as it becomes more widely known that it’s there.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production and 75 per cent of its premium wine. The state is home to world-renowned regions such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale and iconic brands including as Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek , Hardys and Wolf Blass.

Chinese students accounted for almost 40 per cent of the 32,000 in international students who studied in Adelaide in 2015.

Greece’s best wines coming to Australia

For the third year in a row, Greece’s leading winemakers and educators return to Australia 19 – 26 June 2017 to showcase up to 80 of the country’s best and latest wines.

First-time visiting winemakers will join wineries from previous tours at a series of trade and consumer tastings in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide including the most in-depth masterclasses ever on Greek wines led by Greece’s second-only and newest Master of Wine, Yiannis Karakasis MW.

Up to 20 winemakers will show a huge range of wines including Greek indigenous varieties such as xinomavro, agiorgitiko and mavrotragano plus new-wave wines from the next generation of winemakers emerging from oldest culture of wine in the world. With one of the world most diverse micro-climates and vast array of indigenous varieties, Greece produces wines with a true sense of place and is finally earning recognition across the world for wines that are truly unique.

Consumers will also have the opportunity to taste and meet the people behind the wines at two events, the Greek wine extravaganza, Oinofilia, at Melbourne’s Meat Market on Saturday, 24 June (held by the team behind Pinot Palooza and Game of Rhones) and at Georges on Waymouth in Adelaide on 21 June.

Wines of Greece President, Vangelis Argyris said the winemakers were looking forward to returning to Australia for the third time.

“There is unprecedented demand for Greek wines with a 30 per cent increase in sales in Australia over the last two years. Our native grape varieties are leading this demand and we’re hoping to bring some new varieties in June that haven’t been widely seen in Australia before.

“We are thrilled Australia has fell in love with Greek wines and so excited for this third tour in as many years.”

Wines of Greece is also running private masterclasses for retailers, distributors, hotels and restaurant groups throughout their time in the country.

New wine distribution company for Australia

Société Jacques Bollinger (SJB), Henschke and Villa Maria have come together to create House of Fine Wine, an Australian distribution company that will offer nationwide supply of premium wines from a single, focused portfolio.

The new company was established after the sale of Fine Wine Partners to Accolade earlier this year. The three family-owned wineries – who all had seats on the advisory board of Fine Wine Partners – are bringing together a customer-focused model that will offer the Australian market premium wines from the three well- known wine brands.

Etienne Bizot, sixth generation of the family and great-nephew of Lily Bollinger, oversees the family’s estates as President and Chairman of Société Jacques Bollinger.

“Represented in the Australian marketplace now for over 100 years, our houses Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Ayala and Cognac Delamain are delighted to continue their close working relationship of a quarter of a century with the Henschke family and more recently Villa Maria’s Fistonich family in the House of Fine Wine,” Bizot said.

The new producer and customer-focused distribution model is unique in that it will allow the three wineries to build their brands through a tightly configured portfolio that places quality at the core of the business. In addition, they’ll dedicate a large percentage of their efforts to the fine wine retail and on-premise side of the business.

The new company will officially launch on 1 June 2017 and will build upon the existing infrastructure developed by Villa Maria with a dedicated sales and marketing team, customer services, supply chain and operational support.

South Australian wine makes it to Eurovision Song Contest

Graham Norton’s Own range of wines, made with New Zealand’s Invivo Wines, has been named as the official partner of Eurovision 2017.  The range includes Graham Norton’s Own South Australian Shiraz, a blend of grapes from the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, creating a big red that perfectly captures the Aussie spirit.

This is the first time that Eurovision has chosen a wine brand as a partner.

The range also includes the Graham Norton’s Own Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the Graham Norton’s Own “Pink By Design” Rosé, which is a fresh and lively combination of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes, also from the Marlborough region.

The Graham Norton’s Own brand has grown way beyond expectation, from a limited launch of just 12,000 bottles in 2014 to an expected 1.5 million bottles this year and now sold in 5 countries worldwide.  Recently, Norton’s Shiraz and Rosé won gold medals at the Sydney International Wine Competition. Norton blends his wine every year with guidance from the Invivo team and he is also a part owner of the winery.

“Eurovision is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, just like our values here at Invivo. We’re the ideal wine to go with crazy hair, outrageous dresses, way too many wind machines and more white suits than should be legal without a prescription,” said Invivo’s cofounder.

Chinese trade reps immerse themselves in Australian wine

Sixteen influential wine trade and educators from the China mainland have wrapped up an immersive Australian wine experience hosted by Wine Australia as part of the China Trade Group Visit from 16 to 25 April.

The 10-day visit was designed to give guests insight to the unique characteristics of each region through winemaker dinners, winery tours, tastings, master classes and informal education sessions with regional experts.

Guests also experienced vintage first-hand with a full immersion into grape harvesting and winemaking at wineries in the Margaret River (WA), Great Southern (WA), McLaren Vale (SA), and Barossa (SA).

All the guests have already demonstrated an on-going commitment to promoting Australian wine in China and many of them were winners at the 2016 Wine Australia China Awards.

Jassie Dong, Deputy General Manager of Shanghai Pran Wines was one of the guests who took part in the experience.

“I was also very happy to join the trip with so many influential wine industry insiders. I learned a lot from them and found this trip very rewarding,” said Dong.

“Wine Australia has done a terrific job on promoting premium Australian wine culture! I will continue to recommend more excellent wineries to the China market, and I believe the next three years will be a golden time for premium Australian wine soaring in China.”

Seppeltsfield to welcome Marco Pierre White

Seppeltsfield is preparing for Marco Pierre White to visit the estate this month, as part of the 2017 Tasting Australia festival, which runs from Sunday 30th April – 7th May.

Pierre White will be joined by estate residents Owen Andrews (Seppeltsfield events executive chef) and David Swain (FINO Seppeltsfield) to lead an Italian feast – one of the opening events of Tasting Australia.

To be held in Seppeltsfield’s 1920s Vintage Cellar, in which a production and full service function kitchen was recently added, the Italian feast will also welcome Mitch Orr (ACME, Sydney), Jock Zonfrillo (Restaurant Orana, Adelaide) and Matteo Carboni (Casa Carboni, Barossa) as feature chefs. The event sold out just hours after having been announced.

Touted as the world’s first ‘celebrity chef’, Pierre White, who will headline a new television series Hell’s Kitchen Australia this year, famously became the youngest person to be awarded 3 Michelin stars (at 33 years). Gordon Ramsay and Curtis Stone are among the now-household gastronomic names who were mentored by Pierre White.

Whilst details of the event’s menu are being tightly held, Tasting Australia ambassador and FINO Seppeltsfield Proprietor Sharon Romeo said that guests would be in for an Italian feast of “generosity and authenticity”.

“Our entire kitchen and front of house team are excited to work alongside Marco for this event – he has been an inspiration to so many chefs who have gone on to be culinary legends of their own”, said Ms Romeo. “We feel so thrilled to have him in our home here at Seppeltsfield.

Clare Valley Shiraz named ‘2016 Wine of the Year’

Taylors Wines has received the ‘2016 Wine of the Year’ award for its 2012 Taylors St Andrews Shiraz from the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists (WAWWJ).

The 2012 St Andrews Shiraz was ranked highest by WAWWJ for the wine’s award wins during 2015, including Best Shiraz at the Shanghai International Wine Challenge, Double Gold at the Tasters Guild International, and Gold at the Decanter International Wine Challenge.

Since its release in 2014, the wine has tallied an impressive 25 gold medals and one trophy from wine shows both in Australia and abroad.

In addition to the ‘Wine of the Year’ recognition, Taylors is the only Australian winery to hold its position as one of the five most awarded wineries in the world, an honour it has claimed four years running. Out of the Top 100 most awarded wines in the world, Taylors has more wines than any other Australian winery, amassing a total of four wines on the list.

The ranking comes as Taylors Wines celebrates a milestone of achieving its 200th Gold Medal win for the 2016-17 financial year, recently claiming two Double Gold and one Gold at the Berlin International Wine Competition and Gold at the Great American International Wine Competition.

Commenting on this year’s report, Taylors Wines third-generation Managing Director Mitchell Taylor said: “We’re honoured and humbled to be recognised yet again by the WAWWJ. To not only remain as one of the top five most awarded wine producers, but to take the top spot as most awarded wine in the world is an exciting accomplishment for our small team.”

“The 2012 St Andrews Shiraz is a significant wine in our history, going on to be one of the most awarded wines we’ve ever made.”

Other Australian wineries landing in the Top 100 Wineries of the World for 2016 include Jacob’s Creek (10), McGuigan Wines (19), Wolf Blass Wines (25), Hardys Wines (29), Gatt Wines (32), De Bortoli Wines (43), McWilliam’s Wines (46), Penfolds (66), Fox Creek Wines (89), Mr. Riggs (91), and Shingleback (92).

The World Ranking Wines and Spirits (WRWS) is commissioned and evaluated by the WAWWJ every year with the purpose to develop an internationally recognised ranking system for the numerous wine shows and competitions held around the world. First founded in 1996, today the WAWWJ consists of 13,500 wine journalists, bloggers and judges representing 80 different countries.


Wine exporters looking to consolidate on a stellar year

The year 2016 was a great one for Australian wine exports. Matthew McDonald takes a look at what was behind this success and what exporters need to do to keep the wine flowing.

Beginning in the mid 2000s, the Australian wine industry entered a difficult period. The combination of low grape prices and the entry of a lot of new producers resulted in a grape oversupply and poor results.

But last year things turned around.

“There’s definitely a strong degree of positive news that’s coming through for the wine sector, especially compared to what’s happened in the last 10 years or so,” Andreas Clark, CEO of Wine Australia told Food & Beverage Industry News.

According to Wine Australia, in 2016 the value of Australian wine exports grew by 7 per cent to $2.22 billion and volume increased by 1 per cent to 750 million litres. In addition, the average value of exports grew by 6 per cent to $2.96 per litre, the highest level since 2009.

The strongest growth came from the most expensive wines – those priced $10 per litre or above free on board (FOB) – which were up 19 per cent to a record $574 million.

So who is buying all this wine?

China is buying more and more of it. Exports to the nation were up 40 per cent to $520 million in 2016. “China’s now our number one market by value overall. It surpassed the US during the course of last year,” said Clark.

Of course, he added, there were exports to other countries too.

“We have seen strong growth in other parts of Asia as well. Free trade agreements have given a bit of a boost into markets like Japan and Korea, and other parts of South East Asia as well have had some strong growth,” he said.

The results in traditional markets, the US and the UK, were mixed.

“The US has been hard for many years but we returned to 3 per cent growth there last year,” said Clark. “So we’re starting to get some traction back there, but it’s a hard market and there’s a long way to go. We starting to see a lot of the media commentary coming through that’s a lot more favourable and talking up the Australian offer so that’s really good.”

The result in the UK was less positive. While it remains the number one European destination for Australian exports by volume, in 2016, the value of exports to the UK declined by 5 per cent to $355 million while volume dropped by 5 per cent to 236 million litres.

According to Clark, the “headwind of Brexit” affected this result.

“…that’s taken a hit in the short term. Long term, hopefully that will all wash through and we can return to some normalised trading there. But when you’re an exporter you’ve got to deal with the vagaries of the global economy,” he said.


As the graphic (below) illustrates, in 2016 export success was varied among the wine varieties.

“We’ve had difficulties with Shiraz in the US recently. People are looking at other opportunities there such as Cabernet or Chardonnay which are strong… or looking at red blends: not so much a varietal descriptor but the red blend category has been strong in the US recently,” said Clark.

“People like the flavour of Shiraz but it’s had a bit of adverse publicity over the past few years so you need to come at that from different ways to make sure you’re meeting consumer need.

“On the other hand Shiraz is very popular in China, so it’s a matter of understanding what’s happening in the market and meeting the needs of the market appropriately.

“It’s taste or just consumer preferences. It can be a combination of taste and how you present the wine as well.”

Export Report_YEDec 2016


According to Clark, there are a number of factors behind the success in China.

“Fundamentally Australia’s well positioned as a food and beverage provider,” he said. “Our products are held in high regard. There’s a strong reputation for our ‘clean and green’ credentials.

“They like the taste profile of Australian wine and the free trade agreement has certainly given that some impetus.”

Tariffs on Australian wine imports to China, which were as high as 14 per cent, are now down to 5.6 per cent and will be removed completely in a few years.

The rise and expansion of China’s middle class is also crucial. Indeed, when metrics like population size and current per capita consumption of alcohol are considered, the potential for growth in wine exports to the world’s most populous country is huge.

Clark chooses not to get carried away with the possibilities.

“Some exporters have had great success there, some have found the market challenging and haven’t got any traction,” he said. “There is a strong growth story there. It’s exciting and all the fundamentals indicate it should continue to occur, but it’s not a uniform golden outcome for all.

“You can’t have all your eggs in the China basket. We need to cultivate other key markets as well and support them because in the long run that will put us in a much healthier and more sustainable position.

“At the same time it is a hard market to do business in. You have to get regularly into the market to understand their routes to market and partners and understand their brand proposition so they can have success there.”

What now?

Clark often returned to this theme of the continued need for hard work. If Australian wine makers want to take full advantage of the current success, he stressed, they can’t afford to slacken off now.

“What we need to consistently do is be out there working the shoe leather and putting those messages into the market,” he said.

“Others have got a bit of a head start on us in recent years or jumped ahead of us and we’ve got to give them a compelling reason to come back to Australian wine if they’ve deserted it in previous years.”

Keeping up such efforts can be difficult, especially for smaller players. The Australian wine industry is quite fragmented and has a lot of small producers, so the situation is not ideal.

However, as Clark pointed out, this diversity is also a strength.

“What that large spread of producers provides is a real interest and diversity to the Australian offering. It’s not monolithic,” he said. “We have 65 wine regions and a wide range varieties and styles.”

“Once people start unravelling that they are blown away. It opens up a whole new world to them.”