I was lucky enough to start my career in the wine industry back in the mid 1980’s. It was a great time where the industry had a certain romance about it and the joint was driven by marketing and winemaking. Today unfortunately the bus has a different driver. It is now driven by accountants and production departments answerable to the bean counters.
Last week saw the foreign owned Orlando (now known as Pernod Ricard) announce the closing of its ‘Morris of Rutherglen’ operations, a former stalwart brand of the Australian Industry. As one of our Iconic Winemakers, Andrew Thomas, tweeted “Another sad example of dickhead corporate accountants making decisions affecting the very fabric of our winemaking history.”
As I write the British vote to leave the EU is about 50:50; during the day it’s been as wide as 55:45 in favour of leaving. Whilst most commentators have concentrated on the financial markets and how they will effect Australia I’m more interested on how the wine industry will be implicated. My gut feel is it could open opportunities. If European Countries take umbrage with the UK then a few more doors may open for Australian wine in the mother Country.
Travelling the world as one of Australia’s top sportsmen obviously has its advantages; playing a sport you love, getting paid well to do likewise and seeing the world as you travel. Former Aussie cricketer Glenn McGrath and current Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore have both opened up about one of their off field passions during their travels. Both have revealed their appreciation for South African wines, in particular from the Stellenbosch region.
Let’s hope Pigeon and Squeak’s love affair with African wines is only a brief flirtation and they realise, via Iconic Winemakers, that the world’s best wines are right here in their own back yard.
Malcolm Turnbull has given $50 million to Wine Australia and below is how Wine Business Magazine’s editor sees it being spent.
We spent $8m on a feasibility study to work out how to spend the remaining $42m. We spent $3m on a risk analysis, leaving $39m. A consultant charged $6m to tell us what to do with the $33m we had left and he came down from the hill to shoot the wounded after the battle was over. A lawyer robbed us of $2m, which left $31m. We upsized the core competencies for our paradigm shift and invested $3m in a millennial generational expert, a coffee cake authority and two barnyard masturbators. We got buy-in, drilled down and ran it up the flagpole. We spent $1m on a business coach and had a team-building day in Nimbin to build trust and we held hands and sang Koombaya. That left $25m. Having all this marketing money and no marketers, we paid a UK recruitment firm $6m to conduct an exhaustive global search for a $3m marketer and the successful applicant worked three cubicles down from the Wine Australia CEO in Kent Town. That left $18m. We spent $2m on an integrity unit and $3m on a financial advisor who referred us to the integrity unit, leaving $13m. The Riverland always cracks the shits about being left out, so we shut them up with $3m to turn the Big Orange into the Big Grape, leaving $10m. We gave $7m to Wolf Blass for a bloody-fuggen world tour to repeat the best PR trick ever – paging himself at international airports. “Would Mr. Wolf Blass of Aussie wine – the greatest wine in the world – please come to the Emirates counter?” That left $3m, which was spent on a Senate Inquiry into how we blew $50 million with nothing to show for it. – Ed
Whilst I’m yet to find a bad wine region in Australia there are a few that make my favourite’s list….and McLaren Vale is definitely one of those.
From that full bodied ripe Shiraz to the more savoury Grenache and Sangiovese, the region offers great diversity. If you need a full mouth feel Aussie Shiraz then travel no further than down South Rd from Adelaide. And then when I think of a ploughman’s lunch or a slow cooked lamb shoulder the Grenache or a Sangiovese is a winner.
I had the pleasure of meeting the winemakers recently and the cool mornings, beautiful full sun days and the then cooler evenings were sublime; as Nick Haselgrove told me ‘it’s like putting the grapes in the fridge overnight which allows us to keep them on the vine longer to achieve optimum ripening’. This cool breeze comes from the Fleurieu Peninsula, or locally known as Maslin Beach.
They have some serious winemaking talent down there but what struck me, apart from one, was none was bigger than the rest; their camaraderie was a stand out for what is ostensible a competition for the consumer’s dollar. But they, apart from one, are smart enough to realise that if they each have X% of the pie, it’s far better to make it a family sized pie rather than the one you get at the footy.
Long Live The Vale.
Courtesy of The Weekly Times’
Wine exports for the 12 months to March broke through $2 billion and last week Australia scored the second highest number of medals at the International Wine Challenge.
According to Wine Australia, the value of Australian wine exports has grown 13 per cent to $2.1 billion and volume increased by 3 per cent to 731 million litres.
Bottled exports grew 16 per cent to $1.7 billion, the highest value in five years.
Exports were destined for 119 countries and value increased to 79 of these, including the biggest five.
The US remained Australia’s top export destination by value, increasing by 4 per cent to $442 million.
There are many guidelines when it comes to cellaring wine and the following are certainly important:
Don’t be afraid to call the winery for advice and don’t believe everything you read on a back label- I’ve seen wines change vintages 3 times over and the back label for each remains the same.
However, my best advice is the quantity you purchase.
If you have the budget, set yourself a minimum of 6 bottles of each wine you want to cellar. The advantage you get from cellaring wine is trying a bottle now, having a look at another bottle in say 3 months then 6 and then 12. It’s the best way to appreciate what is essentially a living thing inside a bottle, and being a part of its maturation.
Wine Australia has revealed that the Chinese wine market has now taken over the US wine market in total turnover after a 66 per cent rise over the last year.
Wine Australia general manager of marketing, Stuart Barclay, told TheShout that the 66 per cent growth in the Chinese market represented both volume and value sales.
“The Chinese market is still very strong, and when you combine this with the Hong Kong market it is worth over $500 million. The growth is coming from across China at lots of different price points, including very strong growth for sales above $10," Barclay said.
“By comparison, the US market is one of our toughest markets. This used to be a $1 billion market and we are now doing around $440 million.