Chris Hemsworth gets a taste of Jacob’s Creek winemaking

The 2018 vintage at Jacob’s Creek got the VIP treatment, as acclaimed actor Chris Hemsworth joined the team to get an insider’s view on creating one of the world’s most unique wines, Double Barrel.

During his first visit to the Barossa, South Australia, Chris spent a few days getting to know the Jacob’s Creek winemaking team and the celebrated wine region that’s home to the winery. He experienced a firsthand insight into what it takes to bring together this exceptional wine, Double Barrel, which is finished in aged whisk(e)y barrels.

The star of Thor, The Avengers and 12 Strong, Chris recently provided his vocal talents for the new Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Two Barrels, One Soul commercial, which was released in late 2017.

Hemsworth commented that it’s been a privilege to see much of Australia and the world, but getting to the Barossa during vintage is an experience he won’t forget.

“We’ve been warmly welcomed in the Barossa by the Jacob’s Creek team who have taken us into their home and shown us what makes this place and its wines world class,” he said.

Chris summed up his thoughts on the wines in the range: “As someone who travels a lot I’m always looking for things that can remind me of home and a glass of Double Barrel does just that.”

Jacob’s Creek Chief Winemaker Ben Bryant hosted Chris at the winery, taking him on a tour of the vineyards and barrel room, tasting wines directly from the barrel, blending wine, and coopering the all-important barrels.

“Chris really has a passion for Aussie wine and was keen to meet the team behind creating Jacob’s Creek. We brought together those involved in growing the grapes and making the barrels alongside our winemakers to spend time having a chat over a harvest barbecue at our historic Jacob’s Creek Estate,” Bryant said.

The development of the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel range has been a complex undertaking that has taken years to perfect. Following a great deal of experimentation, the winemakers discovered whisk(e)y barrels produced the best results for what they wanted to achieve. Matured in wine barrels, the wine is finished in aged whisk(e)y barrels for a richer, deeper and smoother finish.

The award-winning Double Barrel range brings to life the spirit of innovation and expertise of the Jacob’s Creek winemaking team. The range includes a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz Cabernet, alongside a new release Chardonnay – the first white wine for the range.

$11.1 million to support Australian vineyard profitability and management

Wine Australia and PIRSA’s South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) have signed a 5-year $11.1 million co-investment agreement that will support the profitability of Australian grape and wine sector through a dedicated research and development program in disease management, vineyard resilience and clonal performance.

Under the strategic partnership agreement, Wine Australia will contribute $6.5 million and SARDI $4.6 million over 5 years, allowing for longer-term strategic investments that will benefit levy payers and the whole Australian wine sector.

Key grape and wine sector priorities to be addressed under this agreement include:

  • developing new and improved management strategies to prevent and control grapevine trunk diseases
  • developing strategies to manage fungicide sprays in a way that minimises the development of resistant populations of fungi
  • developing innovative irrigation practices to overcome the difficulties in maintaining vine productivity under dry winter conditions
  • understanding the causes of vintage compression and developing vineyard management options that increase the proportion of fruit harvested at optimal maturity
  • establishing Cabernet Sauvignon trials for future evaluation of clonal response to climate and management; and
  • maintaining germplasm collection to support national viticulture projects.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said, ‘This agreement with SARDI reflects the high level of strategic alignment between our priorities for the sector and SARDI’s Strategic Plan to support the profitability of Australia’s grape and wine community.

‘Through this agreement, Australia’s growers and winemakers will benefit from more sustainable management of pests and diseases, and an excellent Australian-specific range of practical vineyard management practices to minimise the impact of climate change. It will also maintain capacity for biosecurity and future proof Australia’s grapevine germplasm collection.’

This agreement is the third in a series of bilateral partnerships between Wine Australia and major research institutions under a new research and development funding framework that aims to allow the Australian grape and wine community’s research partners to be better able to make strategic investments and plan for the future, maintain technical capabilities in key areas, and have greater flexibility to pursue promising research results within an overall agreed framework.

Australian wine excites at Australia Day Tasting, London

Australian wine was celebrated at this week’s Australia Day Tasting (ADT) in London, Wine Australia’s largest trade tasting internationally.

The tasting in London on Tuesday 23 January showcased nearly 1100 wines from 41 different regions. Over 1000 visitors attended from across the United Kingdom (UK) and European wine trade, including buyers from multiple retailers and independent specialists, sommeliers, journalists and educators.

Thirty-eight winemakers and winery owners flew over to pour their wines and meet the trade – Andrew Hardy (Petaluma), Scott McWilliam (McWilliams), Jeremy Dineen (Josef Chromy), Martin Spedding (Ten Minutes by Tractor), Robyn Pfeiffer (Pfeiffer Wines), Toby Porter (d’Arenberg), Christian Dal Zotto (Dal Zotto) and Mary Dickinson (Dickinson Estate) amongst others. Also attending from Australia was Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark who launched the ‘State of the Sector’ report.

Clark reported that in the 12 months ending December 2017, Australian wine exports globally increased by 15 per cent to A$2.56 billion, the highest growth rate since 2004.

Guests tried the latest vintages of wines from iconic brands such as Penfolds, Torbreck and Yalumba and made new discoveries like Dickinson Estate, Eccentric Wines and MÉRITE that are seeking distribution. Of the 243 wineries featured, 18 producers are not yet in market in the UK.

Visitors also participated in master classes – Margaret River presented by Sarah Ahmed and McLaren Vale presented by Richard Hemming MW – and joined a seminar on rotundone in Shiraz led by Con Simos from The Australian Wine Research Institute.

The quantity and variety of wines at ADT points to the growing interest and demand for Australian premium wines in the UK. It also echoes the findings of Wine Australia’s latest Export Report, released on 23 January, which shows that exports to the UK at A$20/L and above increased by 4.5 per cent to A$8.8 million. UK off-trade sales figures are also positive: Australia is still number one in the off-trade and value is growing; it was up 2 per cent in the 12 months to November 2017 (IRI report).

Ahead of the ADT in London, Wine Australia launched a new State of the Sector report which takes a novel approach by drawing on parallels between Australian wine and Australian music.

Clark said, “Both Australian wine and Australian music are unique expressions of a diverse Australian culture and landscape. Both are distinctly Australian while also universal. This new State of the Sector report explores the shared history of wine and music in Australia, their evolution and global appeal.”

 

Australian wine exports booming

Australian wine exports increased by 15 per cent to $2.56 billion in the 12 months ending December 2017, according to Wine Australia’s Export Report.

The 15 per cent increase in the value of exports is the highest annual growth rate since 2004 and it was also a record-breaking year for volume, with exports growing by 8 per cent to 811 million litres, a calendar year high.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer, Andreas Clark, said the positives continued with the sector achieving a 7 per cent increase in average value per litre free on board (FOB*) to $3.16, the highest level since 2009.

“Growing demand for premium Australian wine, particularly in Northeast Asia, increased the value of bottled wine exports by 17 per cent to $2.1 billion, while the average price per litre for bottled wine grew by 3 per cent to a record $5.63,” Clark said. 

Wine exported in bulk also experienced price increases, with total value increasing by 10 per cent to $440 million and average value per litre increasing by 6 per cent to $1.03, the highest average value since 2012.

Clark said it was notable that exports of wines priced above $10 per litre grew by 29 per cent to a record $738 million.

Australia’s top five markets by value in 2017 were:

  • China mainland (33 per cent of total export value)
  • United States (18 per cent)
  • United Kingdom (14 per cent)
  • Canada (7 per cent), and
  • Hong Kong (5 per cent).

Australia’s top five markets by volume in 2017 were:

  • United Kingdom (28 per cent share of total export volume)
  • United States (21 per cent)
  • China mainland (19 per cent)
  • Canada (8 per cent), and
  • Germany (5 per cent).

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Govt says Canada treating Aussie wine unfairly

The Turnbull Coalition Government has initiated formal World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement action against what it claims are Canada’s discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine.

Australia has taken the first step in commencing formal consultations with Canada regarding measures Australia believes impose arbitrary and disadvantageous restrictions on the sale of imported wine in Canadian grocery stores, inconsistent with Canada’s WTO obligations.

This step responds to concerns from the Australian wine industry regarding the Canadian measures, which negatively impact trade with Australia’s fourth largest export market for wine, currently valued at $185 million.

Australia strongly supports the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its heart. One of the key strengths of the WTO is its disputes system, which ensures WTO Members comply fully with their commitments.

While it would have been preferable to resolve this issue bilaterally, it is appropriate to commence dispute proceedings given the lack of progress.

Australia last initiated formal WTO action in 2003.

House of Arras wins ‘Best Sparkling Trophy’ at another capital city wine show

Tasmanian label House of Arras has now scooped the ‘Best Sparkling Trophy’ at every capital city wine show in Australia this year.

Ed Carr, House of Arras Winemaker, is celebrating this clean sweep after the results of the Royal Hobart Wine Show last night where they won four trophies in total; Best Wine of Show, Best Tasmanian Sparkling, Best Tasmanian Wine and Best Sparkling for the Blanc de Blanc 2008.

“These awards have topped a superlative year for House of Arras. Such endorsement across a broad range of judges is an absolute statement of quality and the entire viticulture and winemaking team is extremely proud of this achievement.

“It is particularly pleasing to be awarded ‘the home state’ trophy for the ‘Best Tasmanian Wine’ in Hobart from a field of strong competition across many premium cold climate wine styles,” said Carr (pictured).

The seven Best Sparkling capital city trophies were split between the House of Arras Grand Vintage 2008 which took home three trophies and Blanc de Blancs 2008 which received four.

Last week, House of Arras also received the ‘Best Australian Producer’ Trophy at the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition. An esteemed global competition, this is the first time that the top Australian producer trophy has been awarded to a sparkling wine brand.

With these kinds of accolades under his belt, it’s no wonder that wine critics have dubbed Carr the “Godfather of Australian Sparkling”.

“It is absolutely fantastic to see our philosophy of fastidious viticulture and winemaking come to fruition and receive these awards from such discerning wine judges in recognised quality competitions both here in Australian and overseas,” said Carr.

House of Arras is part of the Accolade Wines portfolio, which features other premium brands including Grant Burge, Hardys, St Hallett and Croser.

Fruit for House of Arras is sourced across Tasmania’s premium cool climate regions, ideal for long, slow and consistent fruit development.

The entire portfolio of Arras sparkling wines is held back between 3-10 years to give them the distinction, quality and maturity they require to be world-class said Carr.

 

 

UK merchants wowed by Australian wine experience

From 2 to 11 October, a group of nine buyers from UK and Ireland independent wine merchants, plus Drinks Retailing News’ Editor Martin Green, explored the diversity and innovation of Australian wine through a series of personalised tours, tastings, master classes and winemaker dinners.

Hosted by Wine Australia’s Emma Symington MW, the program included Hunter Valley and Orange tastings in Sydney, a Barossa and Clare Valley tasting at Yalumba, and visits to Canberra, Yarra Valley, King Valley, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale.

Guests discovered Mediterranean and alternative grape varieties, learnt more about the influence of cool climates, explored sub-regionality of Barossa, and met artisan and pioneering young guns like Mac Forbes and Lark Hill’s Chris Carpenter. The group was also taken on a guided tour of The Australian Wine Research Institute where they saw how research and development supports innovation in Australian wine and took part in a faults master class.

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Alongside various wine themed activities, the visitors also participated in the Victorian Salami Festival at Dal Zotto, a Milawa Cheese tasting, toured Four Pillars Gin Distillery and enjoyed a hot air balloon experience over the King Valley.

Having explored a broad range of regions and tasted more than 400 wines during the trip, feedback was extremely positive from guests who were impressed with the quality and diversity of wines. The group also valued the commercial opportunities that the trip presented, with many talking about new listings as a result of their visit.

“It was a fantastic trip, the best I’ve ever done, which is saying something as I’ve been on a few. I’ve been to Australia three times now, but every time there’s something new to discover,” said Ruth Yates, Managing Director and Buyer of Corks Out.

“Australia forms a very big part of the Corks Out portfolio – it’s the biggest still wine category ahead of France – and I think it will continue to grow, there’s so much potential.”

 

Rochford Winery to represent Oceania at China shopping festival

Shanghai City, China is a long way from the rolling hills and vineyard sprawled landscape of the Yarra Valley, but that’s not stopping Rochford Wines Sales Manager, John Bright from delivering a speech at the Double 11 Global Shopping Festival, talking all things online shopping, wine and Alipay.

It’s a world first for Rochford to be representing Oceania at the event, which will be held in the days surrounding China’s largest online shopping day on November 11th.

Having worked with Rochford for 13 years, Bright has been involved in driving the focus on wine sales and growing Rochford’s inbound tourism profile. Bright said, “I am thrilled, excited, bewildered even, to be representing Rochford Wines and indeed ‘Australia, New Zealand and Oceania’ at the 2017 Alibaba Double 11 Global Shopping Festival in Shanghai this week.”

The festival is hosted by Alibaba Group and will include a Countdown Gala produced by Emmy-winning Oscars producer David Hill that will host a range of celebrities, performers and speakers and will be televised and streamed live across the globe to billions. The event will highlight Alipay, which is the largest cross border payment provider in Australia, bridging the gap between Australian merchants and Chinese consumers. Alipay has proved to be an essential resource for Rochford and has made it easy for Rochford to sell and deliver directly to their many Chinese visitors.

Rochford’s involvement in the festival will shine a spotlight not only on the Rochford Winery, but the Australian tourism and retail industry as a whole and will provide an amazing opportunity for Rochford to reach new global markets.

New agreement for NSW wine sector

As part of the 2017 NSW Wine Awards celebration, a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Government has been announced, signaling a positive step forward for the state’s wine industry.

The MoU has been signed by Tom Ward (pictured, right), President of the NSW Wine Industry Association, Minister Niall Blair MLC (pictured, left), Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water and Minister for Trade and Industry, and Minister Adam Marshall MP, Minister for Tourism and Major events and Assistant Minister for Skills.

Tom Ward says, “This document represents much hard work done behind the scenes and a much closer working relationship between us and the government. It is vital for an industry that not only provides regional communities with sustainable employment and boosts their economic activity but also contributes $1.6 billion to the total NSW economy and plays an important role in our state’s $38 billion tourism sector.”

Minister Blair said, “This Government knows the value of the wine industry to our state, and especially to the regional communities it supports.

“We’ve signed this MoU to ensure the NSW wine industry is in the best possible position to capitalise on trade opportunities, tourism initiatives and research and development, while growing at home and abroad.”

Under this MoU, and in partnership with industry, the NSW Government will undertake to focus on the areas of export markets development, regional wine tourism, and research and innovation.

This includes helping NSW wineries maximise the opportunities outlined in the recent Export and Regional Wine Support Package (ERWSP) announced by the federal government, finalising and releasing the NSW Food and Wine Tourism Strategy and Action Plan (2020) as soon as possible, and improving support for and promotion of inbound visitation across regional NSW, including visitation of wine regions and cellar doors.

The commitments in this MoU also cover using and promoting NSW wines at NSW Government functions and venues and showcasing NSW wine during any overseas Ministerial trade missions.

Finally, the MoU stipulates ongoing high level meetings between government and wine industry every six months at a minimum. Both the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Government are committed to action the new MoU and continue to create programs and opportunities that will contribute to a strong, profitable and growing wine industry.

Australia’s small winemakers report strong growth

Australia’s small winemakers have reported strong growth in revenue and production across all sales channels for the second consecutive year, according to the findings of Wine Australia’s Small Winemaker Production and Sales Survey 2016–17 report published today. 

Both production and revenue for small winemakers (categorised as those crushing up to 500 tonnes) grew by 10 per cent in 2016–17. Small winemakers contribute an estimated 8 per cent to the total Australian winegrape crush and $1.3 billion of wine sales.

The vast majority of wine sales for Australia’s small winemakers are in the domestic market; with retailers accounting for almost half of all wine sales and cellar door nearly one third.

Cellar doors and export markets were identified by small winemakers as presenting the best business opportunities over the next five years.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said the findings of the report show that the growing enthusiasm for Australian wine in export markets and for regional wine tourism experiences has boosted the confidence of small winemakers.

‘The report shows that while export markets currently account for 14 per cent of their wine sales on average, our smaller winemakers are optimistic about the increasing sales opportunities from export markets and visits to cellar doors’, he said.

‘The Australian Government’s Export and Regional Wine Support Package will provide further opportunities for wine export growth, with applications for the Wine Export Grants anticipated to open in January 2018, and the state-based and competitive grants leading to thousands more international tourists visiting our wine regions.’ 

The report highlights that ‘cellar door’ was the fastest growing sales channel with an average six per cent growth and increased investment in other attractions and facilities for visitors, which is consistent with recent consumer research by Wine Intelligence indicating a shift among winery visitors from solely wine tasting to an overall experience.

Key insights from the report include:

  • production increase of 10 per cent on average, in line with the overall increase in the national vintage crush, to 106 million litres
  • small winemakers account for 35 per cent of domestic sales value and 10 per cent of export sales value
  • 73 per cent of small winemakers reported increased revenue, 10 per cent reported no change and 16 per cent reported a decline in sales
  • the retail channel is the largest domestic channel for small winemakers, accounting for 45 per cent of wine sales on average, with cellar door sales second at 30 per cent, and
  • other direct to consumer channels – such as own website, online retail through a third party and mail order/wine club – together account for 17 per cent of wine sales.

Awards for Chinese professionals promoting Australian wine

The top Chinese wine professionals who excel in promoting Australian wine in China have been honoured at the Wine Australia China Awards 2017.

This year, the celebration of Australian wine was amplified with the inaugural Australian Wine Fair in Shanghai, which showcased the unique and diverse styles of Australian food and wine to media, wine enthusiasts and influencers.

“The China Awards and Australian Wine Fair provide an excellent platform to celebrate those who excel in promoting Australian wine in China, as well as developing a deeper appreciation for Australia’s premium wines amongst wine influencers,” said Andreas Clark, Chief Executive Officer of Wine Australia.

“Mainland China is Australia’s most valuable export market and the continued growth we are seeing is a testament to the great work being done by the wine trade. We appreciate their dedication to promoting Australian wine and their enthusiasm to educate and encourage more people to try the wide array of premium Australian wine on offer.

“The Australian Wine Fair, a new initiative introduced as part of the Australian Government’s Export and Regional Wine Support Package, saw Australian winemakers from 10 wine regions travel to Shanghai to showcase their wines, host master classes and educate Chinese wine professionals and wine lovers about the diversity of our wines,” he said.

At the China Awards, 13 business representatives and individuals were celebrated for their outstanding contribution promoting and raising awareness of Australian wine in Australia’s most valuable export market.

Rose Scott, CEO of Summergate, one of the winners of the Best Importer category, said, “The annual Wine Australia China Awards is one of the most important events in the wine calendar in China each year. We feel honoured to be recognised and we would like to thank Wine Australia in China and our brand partners for their support and the contribution they have all provided to assist with the development of this key future global wine market.”

The China Award ceremony attracted 230 guests, including wine importers, retailers, hoteliers, sommeliers, wine education and training professionals and media, and approximately 500 guests attended the inaugural Australian Wine Fair.

2017 world wine production falls, while Aus production grows

World wine production, excluding juice and musts, is likely to reach 246.7 millions of hectolitres (mhl) in 2017, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.

This figure, an 8 per cent drop compared with 2016 and one of the lowest levels for several decades, reflects unfavourable climate conditions in the major Western European wine producing nations, Italy, France, and Spain.

Closer to home, In Oceania, 2017 Australian production reached a sustained level of 13.9 mhl, a 6 per cent increase compared with 2016. Production was on the up for the third year in a row. In New Zealand, production slightly declined in 2017 (-9 per cent), yet this was in reference to a record production the year before. It nevertheless remained high (2.9 mhl).

Italy confirmed its place as the leading world producer for the third year running in 2017 (39.3 mhl, -23 per cent/2016), followed by France (36.7 mhl, -19 per cent/2016) and Spain (33.5 mhl, – 15 per cent/2016).

This reduction was recorded in the main EU countries. Germany (8.1 mhl, -10 per cent /2016) and Greece (2.5 mhl, -10 per cent /2016) fall in line with this downward trend. Bulgaria (1.1 mhl, – 2 per cent /2016), saw a production level in keeping with its potential.

Portugal (6.6 mhl), Romania (5.3 mhl), Hungary (2.9 mhl) and Austria (2.4 mhl) were the only countries to record a rise compared with 2016. After two poor harvests, Romania returned to a high level of production.

The United States, with 23.3 mhl vinified (-1 per cent /2016), saw a high level of production for the second year running. One doubt remains: the estimated wine production is based on USDA forecasts for grape production, relating especially to wine grapes, from August 2017 and does not therefore take into account the potential consequences of the recent fires in California (October 2017).

In South America, wine production is likely to show quite an increase compared with 2016, despite the fairly low temperatures at the end of the 2016 year.

Argentina recorded a rise in its production with 11.8 mhl vinified in 2017 (+25 per cent/2016), after the 2016 harvest was one of the lowest in recent years.

 

 

Eric Vivian Thomson receives Victorian wine honour

Eric Vivian Thomson, fondly known as Viv Thomson amongst wine industry peers, has been announced Legend of the Vine Victoria at the annual WCA Melbourne Wine Show Awards Lunch. Thomson comes from a long line of winemakers and received ‘Legend of the Vine’ status for his service to the wine industry as one of Australia’s longest serving winemakers.

“Viv has made an outstanding contribution to the wine industry and is a highly respected figure amongst his wine peers in Australia,” said WCA National Chair Angus Barnes.

“His list of accolades, including his 2014 Order of Australia Medal, is a true reflection of where his reputation sits within the industry, and why he is recognised as Victorian’s newest Legend of the Vine.”

Thomson descends from one of Victoria’s most successful wine families dating back five generations. Born and raised in Swan Hill, Thomson moved to Great Western as a six-year-old boy where his grandfather owned Concongella Vineyards in Great Western. Winemaking has always been a part of Thomson’s family – in 1920 his grandfather purchased Best’s Great Western where Thomson has spent majority of his career managing operations and acting as chief winemaker.

A graduate of the acclaimed Roseworthy College in South Australia, Thomson spent three years studying agriculture before deciding it would be worth taking a crash-course in winery analysis. After returning from two years abroad, he joined his father Eric running the vineyard and making wine at Best’s Great Western, and managed two wineries 230 kilometres apart from each other, one at Great Western and one at Lake Boga.

Since entering the winemaking role in 1962, he has completed 51 consecutive vintages and was acknowledged for his service to the wine industry, awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the General Division as a part of the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

During the Christmas period, Thomson would close the doors of Best’s Great Western as there was no cellar door to manage. He spent a week behind closed doors examining each barrel to ensure it was meeting industry expectations and would virtually plan a 12-month program for the business before pre-harvest.

Best’s now operates across six vineyard blocks including Rhymney Vineyard, Concongella, Thomson Family Block, Nursery Block, Barts and Marcus and The Hill Block. The winery’s Concongella and Nursery Block was planted in 1868 by Henry Best, Best’s Great Western original founder.

Thomson now considers himself the elder statesman of Best’s Great Western since handing over the reins of the business to his eldest son Ben. Viv has been recognised by the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival as a “legend” for his services to the wine industry and was also President of the Victorian Wine Industry Association for many years.

International Riesling Week Starts in Canberra

One of the biggest international promotions of Riesling starts today at the Albert Hall in Canberra.

The 18th Canberra International Riesling Challenge (CIRC) during the week 9 -14 October, will see the judging of 517 Rieslings from 225 wineries across seven countries.

Then winemakers, consumers and the wine trade can learn about the secrets of the golden wine, Riesling, at a Master Class, before the week concludes with one of the biggest consumer tastings of Riesling in the world.

Judges from Germany, USA, New Zealand, and Australia will rate the wines by region, country and the world over three days with results announced on Friday evening at an Awards ceremony at the Hotel Realm in Canberra. The judges of this this year’s entries will be John Belsham (NZ), Steve Baraglia (South Australia), Greer Carland (Tasmania), Alison Eisermann (NSW), Steffen Schindler (Germany), Trent Mannell (NSW) and Jim Trezise (USA).

Chair of the CIRC James Service AM said the Riesling Challenge has always prided itself on its ability to attract first class judges. Having three international judges again this year is indicative of our success in positioning the Challenge as a leader in the industry.

Riesling is the most flexible of grapes making a wide range of styles from very dry to sweet dessert wines and even sparkling wines. It is the wine which most reflects the terroir of the vineyard where it is grown. For this reason the Riedel Riesling Master Class (Old and New, Rieslings from Germany and Canberra District), will follow the pattern of showcasing Riesling trends and styles from an international competitor country and from an Australian Riesling region.

The Hotel Realm will hold a Riesling dinner where their Chef will match food with rare award winning Australian Rieslings. Bookings are essential for the events taking place at the Hotel Realm, Barton, on Riesling Friday, 13 October 2017 (by email or phone, details below).

The Challenge is a truly international event, and unique to Canberra. Its longevity and popularity reflect the growing interest in Riesling in all of its styles among consumers and producers. Join us during the Challenge and enjoy some golden wine, Riesling.

Wine awards – gold medals announced

The finalists of the 2017 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine Awards have just been revealed, and the 22nd annual NSW Wine Awards has unveiled one of the most exciting and diverse ranges of new gold medal wines on record.

In fact, 58 gold medals have been awarded this year, to wineries from 10 different NSW wine regions and to wines made from Semillon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Vermentino, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Barbera, Merlot and Durif, as well as blends of the above!

“We have indeed had a great result for both the show and our state’s wineries this year, with a high proportion of gold medal winners highlighting the quality and diversity of NSW wines available out there,” said President of the NSW Wine Industry Association Tom Ward.

“This is in no way a result of us trying to punch up the wine and make everyone a winner; a gold label is a level of trust for the consumer and our gold medals have to be seriously earned.

“That is why getting such a high profile and experienced panel of judges is so important. This year we were thrilled to have Dave Brookes as our Chief Judge, leading a panel of 8 other expert judges from across Australia, and 6 associate judges.

“We have also introduced a more hi-tech scoring process with an iPad based system from the Australian Wine Research Institute. This has enabled us to really get the best out of the judging – correlates all the scores in one system and monitoring judges high and low scores – and be as efficient as possible.”

Announcement of the 2017 Trophy winners will take place on Friday 27 October at the NSW Wine Awards Presentation Lunch at Pier One Sydney Harbour.

List of gold-medal-winning Finalists  (in alphabetical order) 

Agnew Wines 2017 The Ridge Semillon

Hunter Valley

Agnew Wines 2017 Winemakers Selection Semillon

Hunter Valley

Angullong Wines 2016 Fossil Hill Barbera

Orange

Ballinaclash 2016 Edward Shiraz

Hilltops 

Berton Vineyards 2016 Reserve Botrytis Semillon

Riverina

Bimbadgen 2017 Signature Palmers Lane Semillon

Hunter Valley

Bit O Heaven 2016 Think Outside The Circle Cabernet Sauvignon

Hilltops

Briar Ridge Vineyard 2016 Limited Release Tempranillo

Hilltops / Hunter

Brokenwood Wines 2016 Forest Edge Vineyard Chardonnay

Orange

Brokenwood Wines 2017 Forest Edge Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

Orange

Calabria Family Wines 2016 Calabria Private Bin Vermentino

Riverina

Calabria Family Wines 2016 The Boxer Bin 11 Durif

Riverina

Collector Wines 2015 Marked Tree Red Shiraz

Canberra

Coolangatta Estate 2011 Wollstonecraft Semillon

Shoalhaven Coast

Courabyra Wines 2013 805 Sparkling

Tumbarumba

De Bortoli Wines 2015 Noble One Semillon

Riverina

De Iuliis Wines 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Hilltops

De Iuliis Wines 2016 LDR Vineyard Shiraz, Touriga Nacional

Hunter Valley

De Iuliis Wines 2017 Special Release Grenache

Hilltops

First Creek Wines 2013 Winemakers Reserve Semillon

Hunter Valley

First Creek Wines 2015 Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay

Hunter Valley

First Creek Wines 2016 Winemakers Reserve Semillon

Hunter Valley

First Creek Wines 2017 Harvest Semillon

Hunter Valley

Highland Heritage Estate 2016 Fume Blanc

Orange

Hungerford Hill 2016 Pinot Gris

Tumbarumba

Lerida Estate 2016 Canberra District Shiraz

Canberra

McWilliam’s Wines 2013 Barwang Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Hilltops

McWilliam’s Wines 2014 Single Vineyard Shiraz

Hilltops

McWilliam’s Wines 2015 1877 Shiraz

Hilltops

McWilliam’s Wines 2015 842 Chardonnay

Tumbarumba

McWilliam’s Wines 2016 660 Reserve Chardonnay

Tumbarumba

Mino and Co 2013 Growers Touch Botrytis Semillon, Chardonnay

Riverina

Montoro Wines 2013 Pepper Shiraz

Orange

Montoro Wines 2015 Pepper Shiraz

Orange

Moothi Estate 2017 Riesling

Mudgee

Moppity Vineyards 2016 Escalier Shiraz

Hilltops

Moppity Vineyards 2016 Estate Shiraz

Hilltops

Moppity Vineyards 2017 Lock & Key Rose Nebbiolo, Sangiovese

Hilltops

Mount Majura Vineyard 2017 Riesling

Canberra

Mount Pleasant Wines 2011 Lovedale Semillon

Hunter Valley

Nugan Estate Pty Ltd 2014 Cookoothama Shiraz

Riverina

Nugan Estate Pty Ltd 2014 Manuka Grove Durif

Riverina

Robert Stein Winery 2017 Dry Riesling

Mudgee

Rowlee Wines 2016 Chardonnay

Orange

Shaw Vineyard Estate 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz

Canberra

Tamburlaine Wines 2016 Orange Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Orange

Tamburlaine Wines 2017 Preservative Free Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

Orange

Trentham Estate Wines 2016 Shiraz

Murray Darling (NSW)

Tulloch Wines 2016 Cellar Door Release Sangiovese

Hilltops / Young

Tulloch Wines 2017 Cellar Door Release Vermentino

Orange

Tulloch Wines 2017 Hunter River White Semillon

Hunter Valley

Tulloch Wines 2017 Julia Limited Release Semillon

Hunter Valley

Two Rivers Wines 2017 Wild Fire Chardonnay

Hunter Valley

Tyrrell’s Vineyards Pty Ltd 2005 Vat 1 Semillon

Hunter Valley

Tyrrell’s Vineyards Pty Ltd 2013 Vat 47 Chardonnay

Hunter Valley

Tyrrell’s Vineyards Pty Ltd 2015 Belford Chardonnay

Hunter Valley

Tyrrell’s Vineyards Pty Ltd 2017 Belford Semillon

Hunter Valley

Windowrie Estate 2016 Family Reserve Shiraz

Cowra

Aussie Wine Week makes its mark in the US

The inaugural ‘Aussie Wine Week’ headed to the US this month, with sixteen winemakers travelling to New York and San Francisco to showcase their wines at a series of trade, media and consumer events.

The week–long event kicked off a suite of early activities in the US and China delivered under the Australian Government’s Export and Regional Wine Support Package (the Package) – a one-off allocation of $50 million aimed at driving demand for our wine exports and showcasing Australian wine tourism.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said the early activities are part of a broader program of   sector–led events, designed to capture the growing enthusiasm for Australian wine in our largest and growing export markets.

“Our fine wines are gaining attention in the US, with exports growing by three per cent last year due to a rise in the average value of bottled wine exports. We’re maintaining this momentum by partnering with Australian wineries and exporters to deliver a series of early activities that showcase our diverse and quality styles of wine,” said Clark.

Speaking about Aussie Wine Week, the General Manager of Marketing at Wine Australia Stuart Barclay said, “The event was a terrific opportunity to kick start our program of activities for the US and China markets.”

“The event, alongside other trade activity taking place in the market, has given the US market a new thirst for Australian wine and we look forward to keeping the momentum up as we roll out our broader strategy for the Package over the next three years.”

Following the official launch of the Package in August, a three–year strategy is being developed by Wine Australia, the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Australian Vignerons to guide the broader program of sector–led wine export and tourism activities.

In anticipation of the strategy being finalised later this year, Wine Australia received approval to commence some early activities in the US and China as the appetite for Australian wine gains momentum. Future opportunities will be communicated after the strategy is approved.

Final week for entries to Sydney International Wine Competition

Wineries have one more week to enter the 38th Sydney International Wine Competition – the only international wine show that judges all its finalists in combination with appropriate food.

Entries need to be submitted by Friday 22 September. Competition entry is eligible from wine producers from around the world, with entries capped at a total of 2000 wines to ensure the most rigorous judging process.

Already, wineries from a record 13 countries have submitted wines, with all the major wine-producing countries represented, along with smaller producers such as Greece, Israel and Turkey. This year, entries have included 57 individual grape varieties, another record.

Judging will take place from 9 – 13 October, and provisional award and trophy winners will be notified by the end of October.

Online entries can be made via the competition’s website www.top100wines.com, which contains full details of the judging criteria and judges’ comments on all award winners from the 2017 competition.

With no minimum production requirements, this show is particularly applicable to experimental and small makers to test their wines alongside wines from major producers.

This year’s competition will be judged by an international panel of fourteen highly experienced and credentialed judges which includes five Masters of Wine, with Kym Milne MW returning as Chair of the judging panel.

New judges to the competition are Mike DeGaris, Corey Ryan, Natasha Hughes MW, Matthew Deller MW and Tan Ying Hsien MW, who qualified as Singapore’s first-ever Master of Wine in 2015.

They join returning judges Kym Milne MW, Stuart Halliday, Sue Bastian, Warren Gibson, Brent Mariss, Ken Dobler, Meg Brodtmann MW and Oliver Masters.

Renowned Chef Michael Manners will once again develop menus for the final rounds when wines are tasted “with appropriate food”.

Australian wine tastings wow in Japan and South Korea

Growing interest in Australian wine has been reflected in the largest ever attendances at the annual Australian Wine Grand Tastings (AGT) held in Tokyo and Seoul last week, in collaboration with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade).

One of the longest-standing Wine Australia events held globally, the AGT Tokyo, along with the evening consumer event received over 850 guests. Attendance at the trade tasting attendance was up by close to 30 per cent.

Speaking about the Tokyo event, Japan Times columnist, Melinda Joe, said, “The tasting was a fantastic invitation to the world of contemporary Australian wine. In terms of quality and diversity of styles, it seems that there has never been a better time. There were a lot of wines with freshness, poise, and complexity. It was great to see unusual bottles like Smallfry’s orange wine next to elegant Pinot Noir from Bass Phillips.”

In Seoul, the AGT event introduced the trade to some of Australia’s best known varieties as well as emerging varieties and styles.

South Korea is the fourth biggest still wine market in Asia with 3.4 million cases sold in 2016. Australian wine currently ranks sixth in sales behind Chile, Spain, France, the USA and Italy. However Australian wine sales have been growing strongly since the 2014 Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement removed a 15 per cent tariff on Australian wines, levelling the playing field. Australian sales have been outpacing competitor nations since the agreement was introduced.

In its fourth year, the tasting at the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul included two master classes during the day by wine writer Mike Bennie, and the Australian Wine Research Institute. The event was attended by over 400 members the local wine trade and media, the largest ever at an Australian wine tasting in South Korea.

Austrade Korea’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Amanda Hodges, said “The tasting event is to raise the awareness of regional and iconic Australian wine in Korea. As a result of last year’s event, there will be three new Australian wine brands available to Korean consumers.”

 

A lesson in Australian wine for international students

More than 150 international university students studying in Adelaide experienced a taste of Australia last week at the Australian Wine Showcase 2017, held at the National Wine Centre of Australia.

The seventh annual Australian Wine Showcase was a collaborative event, with Wine Australia, Study Adelaide, the National Wine Education and Training Centre and National Wine Centre of Australia introducing the students to an impressive range of Australian wine and familiarising students with producers from more than 20 Australian wine regions.

Wine Australia Head of Market, Asia Pacific, Hiro Tejima, said the Australian Wine Showcase was an interactive opportunity for students from across the world to taste wines from different Australian wine regions, in their host city.

“International students to Australia are curious about all aspects of life in their host country, including its food and wine culture. We hope that the Showcase inspires the students to learn more about our wine regions and to share their appreciation for our wines with their families and friends,” Tejima said.

Study Adelaide Chief Executive, Karyn Kent, said the students greatly valued the opportunity to learn about Australian wine in a fun, yet safe and responsible environment.

“Access to great food and wine is one of the best things about living in Adelaide. We’re pleased to partner with Wine Australia on the Australian Wine Showcase 2017, as it’s a great way to introduce this special part of the Adelaide lifestyle to international students in a fun, informative and responsible way. It is our hope that the Showcase will develop their appreciation for Australian wine and create a lifelong connection with and passion for the state,” said Kent.

At the free event, students discovered wines from more than 20 regions across Australia, including classic Australian wine styles and alternative varieties such as Fiano, Vermentino and Nebbiolo.

The international students attending this year’s Australian Wine Showcase were from 30 different countries including from some of Australia’s largest wine export markets, such as China where Australian wine exports increased in value by 44 per cent to $607 million in the 12 months to the end of June 2017.

French MBAs look down under for wine marketing insights

France boasts thousands of years of wine making and some of the finest wines in the world, but French (and Chinese) students come to Adelaide to learn about wine and spirits marketing.

2017 is the seventh year that Professor Herve Remaud, from KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, has accompanied students from the Global MBA program to Adelaide to learn from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, at the University of South Australia, and visit South Australia’s famous wine regions.

“Bordeaux in France makes almost as much wine as all of Australia, including Bordeaux’s cru classé (classed growths) such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild – currently a mere $2,390 a bottle at Dan Murphy’s for the 2010 vintage,” Prof Remaud said.

“If a great part of this success is due to history and quality, sustaining a vibrant wine and tourist industry is a different story and we have to learn modern marketing techniques, which is why we come to Australia.

“Because of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute’s knowledge of brands and consumer behavior, our group learned things that we cannot access elsewhere.”

On the final day of the course, the students travelled through the Adelaide Hills to visit wineries and critically review the challenges wine brands face in order to grow sales and brand reputation.

Students toured several wineries and one distillery including Shaw & Smith, Bird In Hand, Applewood and Paracombe.

Among the students was Lucas Leclerc, technical director and winemaker at Chateau Lafon Rochet, a Bordeaux classed growth founded in the 17th Century. “Wine marketing is nothing if we don’t see it on the spot,” said Leclerc. “Visiting all the wineries, we have understood how difficult or easy it is to implement a good marketing strategy.”

The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute is a long-term partner of KEDGE Business School’s Global MBA program, welcoming MBA students from its Bordeaux, Marseille and Shanghai campuses to UniSA since 2001. Recently the wine marketing course opened up enrollment to UniSA postgraduate students and industry professionals.

Dr Armando Corsi, a Senior Researcher at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science who runs the course sees great benefits for the Australian cohort.

“The UniSA Postgrad students and industry professionals benefit from mixing with wine marketing students from France and China learning consumer purchasing behavior for wine and spirits; how to build online presence; and the fundamental of negotiation with channel partners.”

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