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.”

French Wine Scholar Certification coming to Melbourne

Wine professionals and serious hobbyists can now earn their French Wine credentials at Melbourne Polytechnic through the French Wine Scholar Certification, starting on 25 September 2017.

The French Wine Scholar Study and Certification program provides current, accurate and detailed information on the wines and wine regions of France. Developed and administrated by the Wine Scholar Guild with the support of the French Ministry of Agriculture, the specialisation program is designed for advanced students of wine.

Melbourne Polytechnic is one of only three organisations nationally that offer this certification in Australia, and the only provider in Victoria.

Students of wine who follow the in-depth curriculum and pass the exam earn the French Wine Scholar (FWS) title and are encouraged to use the FWS post-nominal as part of their professional signatures.

“There is no better place to specialize in than France. France vies with Italy as the #1 wine producing country in the world. The most popular commercially produced grape varieties – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah – are all native to France! When it comes to wine culture, France is the historic benchmark,” commented Julien Camus, president of the Wine Scholar Guild.

The certification is delivered using a combination of face-to-face workshops and online study over eight weeks, followed by an exam.

The course is also available for delivery as Workplace Training, either on its own or bundled with the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines or Responsible Service of Alcohol courses.

Record demand for wine and spirit education in Australia

New figures from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) reveal that demand for wine and spirits education is higher than ever both in Australia and globally.

WSET, the largest global provider of qualifications in the field of wines and spirits, is reporting a record 85,487 candidates taken globally in the academic year finishing 31 July 2017, an increase of 19 per cent on last year, marking 15 years of growth. The UK continued to lead the global table with candidate numbers up 14 per cent to 19,401 with Mainland China and USA following closely behind, while Australia moved up from 8th to 7th place seeing 27 per cent growth in candidate numbers compared to the 2015-16 academic year.

As more and more consumers seek to learn more about wine and spirits, the need for more knowledgeable staff is rising, encouraging professionals to pursue accredited qualifications and hospitality businesses to prioritise formal training to cater to customers’ discerning tastes.

Top 10 WSET Markets for the Academic Year 2016/17 (growth from previous year):

  1. UK (+14%)
  2. Mainland China (+41%)
  3. USA (+48%)
  4. Canada (+4%)
  5. Hong Kong (+16%)
  6. France (+32%)
  7. Australia (+27%)
  8. Taiwan (+5%)
  9. South Korea (+13%)
  10. Switzerland (+11%)

Looking Ahead

In the last year, WSET expanded its global reach with the opening of its first international office in Hong Kong and launching courses in new markets including Czech Republic and Montenegro. WSET welcomed over 100 new Approved Programme Providers and there are now 750 Providers offering WSET courses to wine, spirits and sake consumer enthusiasts and trade professionals in over 70 countries. In Australia, 26 Approved Programme Providers now offer WSET courses.

This year, as the USA remains a strong region for growth across the wine, spirits and sake arenas, WSET will be cementing its presence in the market with the appointment of a dedicated team on-territory that will nurture its potential.

The new academic year will also see the release of the freshly updated Level 2 Award in Spirits and the availability of a full suite of printed materials for the Level 3 Award in Sake.

 

Paul Hotker named Winemaker of the Year

Wine critic James Halliday has bestowed one of his highest accolades on the South Australian wine region of Langhorne Creek, naming Paul Hotker of the historic Bleasdale Vineyards as Winemaker of the Year for 2018.

Hotker was among the best and brightest Australian winemakers to be honoured at the fifth annual Qantas epiQure Halliday Wine Companion Awards ceremony, held tonight in Melbourne.

The hotly anticipated Wine of the Year and Best Shiraz titles went to the much lauded 2012 Henschke Hill of Grace, which is handpicked from 152-year-old vines in the Eden Valley.

The Yarra Valley was the front runner of the night, with single-vineyard estate Mount Mary picking up Winery of the Year and Best Pinot Noir, Dappled Wines named Best New Winery and Boat O’Craigo the Dark Horse to watch.

Clare Valley legend Jeffrey Grosset, of Grosset Wines, took out Best Value Winery for his globally renowned range.

The awards are based on the reviews in the 2018 Halliday Wine Companion book, on sale nationwide from tomorrow. Featuring more than 1200 wineries (including 78 new ones) and around 6840 individual wine ratings, it is the definitive guide to Australian wine.

The six major winners:

  • Wine of the Year (sponsored by Qantas epiQure): 2012 Henschke Hill of Grace
  • Winery of the Year (sponsored by Wine Australia): Mount Mary
  • Winemaker of the Year (sponsored by Wine Australia): Paul Hotker, Bleasdale Vineyards
  • Best Value Winery of the Year (sponsored by Thomas Foods International): Grosset Wines
  • Best New Winery: Dappled Wines
  • Dark Horse Winery of the Year: Boat O’Craigo

Wine industry sees upward trend in crush and prices

The Australian wine sector recorded its third consecutive increase in crush and the average purchase price of wine grapes this year, according to the National Vintage Report 2017 released today by Australian Vignerons, Wine Australia and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

In a continuing trend of positive increases for the Australian grape and wine sector, the national crush is estimated to be 1.93 million tonnes – an increase of 5 per cent from the 2016 vintage – and the national average purchase price increased by 7 per cent $565 per tonne – the highest since 2008.

“The increases reflect excellent seasonal conditions in many regions as well as the growing demand for Australian wine, both in export and domestic markets,” said Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark.

“Pleasingly, the figures from the National Vintage Report indicate that the supply and demand for Australian wine is in balance. An additional 93,000 tonnes were crushed this year, which produces approximately an additional 65 million litres of wine. This is in line with increased demand for Australian wine: in 2016–17, exports increased by 50 million litres, and domestic sales increased by 12 million litres in 2015–16, a total of 62 million litres.”

In the 2017 vintage, most regions recorded an increase in tonnes crushed, with the growth in the national crush coming relatively equally from the cool/temperate and warmer inland wine regions of Australia.

The crush from cool/temperate regions increased by 9 per cent to 0.61 million tonnes and accounted for 31 per cent of the national tonnes. In warmer inland regions (Riverina, Murray Darling–Swan Hill and Riverland) the crush increased by 3 per cent to 1.32 million tonnes, making up 69 per cent share of the national crush.

Red winegrape varieties increased their share of the crush to 55 per cent, compared with 52 per cent in 2016. Overall, red winegrape varieties increased by 12 per cent and offset a slight decline of 2 per cent in the white variety crush.

More than 35,000 transactions were collected for vintage analysis. They revealed that the average purchase price increased 7 per cent from last year’s vintage to $565 per tonne – above the average price across the previous five years of $477 per tonne.

The average purchase price of red winegrapes increased by 6 per cent from $651 per tonne to $691 per tonne, and the average price of white winegrapes also increased by 6 per cent from $398 to $420 per tonne.

The total estimated value of the Australian winegrape crush from the 2017 vintage is $1.22 billion, an incease of 13 per cent from $1.08 billion in 2016.

 

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Dawine to sell Vasse Felix wines from Margaret River online in China

Dawine, a distributor of wine to the fast-growing Chinese market, has received approval to sell the acclaimed Vasse Felix wines from Margaret River on Tmall, an online portal in China.

Dawine said in a statement it will sell the wines on Tmall’s online store, via Vasse Felix’s existing distribution channels in China (Torres China).

“We are excited to offer our Chinese retail customers the highly valued Vasse Felixfull range of wines via our Tmall and WeChat stores, as wwell as through our website and app. Vasse Felix is a premium brand and perfectly matches Dawine’s philosophy of only presenting the best examples of wines from the world’s most famous regions,” said Piers Lewis, Exectutice Chairman of Dawine.

Established in 1967, Vasse Felix is Margaret River’s founding wine Estate. As its primary focus, the winery makes premium Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as well as Shiraz and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends.

All wines are estate-grown in Vasse Felix’s four Margaret River vineyards then estate-made and bottled within its own winemaking facility.

 

Riesling back on top at 2017 KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show

Riesling has been the star of the Show with an example from South Australia taking out five awards at the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show’s awards night held in Sydney this evening.

The 2017 RieslingFreak No.3 Clare Valley Riesling from John Hughes Wines was awarded the following accolades: The KPMG Perpetual Trophy for the Best Wine of Show; The Albert Chan Memorial Prize for Best White; The Douglas Lamb Perpetual Trophy for Best Riesling; The RAS of NSW Annual Prize for Best Young White; The Tucker Seabrook Perpetual Trophy for Best State Show Wine.

The prestigious Tucker Seabrook Trophy is awarded to the Exhibitor of the best wine entered at the seven major Capital City Wine Shows held around Australia within the previous twelve months, with each Show submitting their Wine of Show for a final round of judging at Sydney Royal. Over 17,000 wines have been distilled to reach this one standout exhibit.

It is extremely rare for one wine to take out so many awards at a Sydney Royal Wine Show and the last time a Riesling was awarded Best Wine of Show was in 2003.

South Australia born and bred RieslingFreak Head Winemaker John Hughes was excited that a smaller producer like RieslingFreak, only established in 2009, could claim so many accolades in such a prestigious competition as the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show.

“My love for Riesling comes from its variety and diversity, being able to go from sparkling to fortified and dry to sweet,” Hughes said.

“We are fairly new in the game, but we are getting there,” he said.

The name RieslingFreak originated from John’s university days, his fellow students giving him that nickname because of his passion for Riesling.

John Hughes gained earlier national acclaim as a popular contestant on the 2011 series of MasterChef.

In all, 33 Trophies were awarded at the 2017 KPMG Sydney Wine Show following four days of intensive judging by a team of 31 wine experts.

More than 2100 wines were entered from NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, the ACT and Tasmania by 352 exhibitors. Over 11,000 glasses of wine were poured by the battalion of stewards during the four days of judging.

Chair of Judges in 2017 Samantha Connew has praised both the quality and the variety of

A total of 1212 medals were awarded to entries in the 2017 edition of the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show though fewer gold medals (6.9%) were awarded this year than in 2016 (7.6%).

Events culminate this Saturday July 29th with the grand finale, the Sydney Royal Wine Experience, where members of the public are invited and encouraged to taste the very same premium Australian wines the Judges assessed just last week.

 

The Australian wine scene is evolving and the world is watching

On the eve of the annual KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show awards, this year’s invited international judge, Master of Wine, Mark Pygott says he likes what he sees in the evolution of Australian wine – and only not from the usual suspects.

Mark Pygott was invited this year to join 30 Australian wine experts in tasting and judging more than 2100 entries across four days at the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show at Sydney Showground.

 Mr Pygott, originally from Northern England but these days director of Sniff Wine Ltd in Taiwan by way of lengthy winemaking stints with respected French wineries, became a Master of Wine after completing a research paper on climate change and adaptive viticultural practices in the Barossa Valley.

Mark Pygott says he also has seen firsthand the changing views on Australian wine, from what he says began as “friendly, approachable, fruit-forward, cheaper ‘sunshine in a glass’ offerings to places like the UK and the US, to the extremely high quality product the wine drinking world (including newer markets like China) know the Australian wine sector for today.

“The quality of the Grenache and some of the Semillon I have seen in judging this past week has been outstanding,” he said.

 “Not just very good wines – world class wines.

 “If I said I have tasted some great Shiraz, everyone would say ‘of course’,” he added.

 “A wine has made me cry, it happens maybe once every two years.

 While not revealing whether any of the reds, whites, sparklings and fortified entries this year made Mark well up during this year’s competition, he says he likes the fact the Australian wine sector is always testing itself and striving to improve.

 “I think you have to be very careful about thinking that what you have is the best, because if you stand still, other people won’t and that’s dangerous.”

 “You must keep on looking for the next best thing,” he said.

 Mark Pygott was also highly complimentary of the standard of the judging panel assembled for this year’s KPMG Sydney Wine Show.

 “You look around the room at the quality of not just the Judges, but Associate (invited trainee) Judges and there are some serious people here, people who have huge amounts of experience, hugely qualified and here to get a better picture of wine in Australia.

 The KPMG Sydney Wine Show culminates this week in the Awards Night on Thursday, July 27th, a trade day on Friday the 28th and the grand finale, the Sydney Royal Wine Experience this coming Saturday, July 29th, when members of the public are invited and encouraged to taste the very same premium Australian wines the Judges assessed just last week.

 

China and US drive increased demand for Australian wine

The Wine Australia Export Report June 2017, released today, shows that Australian wine export value increased by $201 million (10 per cent) in 2016–17 to $2.31 billion, underpinned by strong export growth to China and the United States of America (US).

Australia is the world’s fifth biggest exporter of wine – behind France, Italy, Spain and Chile. In 2016–17, Australia outperformed each of the four larger exporters in its rate of export growth.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said, “Pleasingly, nearly all price points experienced growth and there were benefits for exporters in all segments of the market.

“The strongest growth was in more premium wines, with all price segments of $10 per litre FOB and above experiencing growth, and the strongest rate of growth for wines $30–49.99 per litre FOB.

“There were a record 1997 exporters last financial year and 69 per cent contributed to the total increase in value shown.

“An interesting development from last year was the growth in the carbonated wine category, which includes varieties such as Moscato. Exports more than doubled to $30 million. The United States was the destination for 35 per cent of the carbonated wine exports, with mainland China (15 per cent) and Japan (14 per cent) the other major destinations,” he said.

Handpicked Wines Export Director James Hunt, said the company’s success in Asia came through hard work and ensuring brand equity across the region while also recognising that each market and its culture was unique.

“This is built on the back of tight brand guidelines, frequent market visits, engaged activity and communication with all levels of the distribution chain. In particular, the importers and distributors are educated to manage the message and value chain through to the consumers,” he said.

“As the business grew we found the need to employ within the region to maintain the brand values and ensure the message was consistent across the region, particularly with local websites, trade material and social media accounts.” Hunt said.

 

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Entries open for 38th Sydney International Wine Competition

The 38th Sydney International Wine Competition – the only international wine show that judges all its finalists in combination with appropriate food – has opened for entry.

Entries are eligible from wine producers from around the world, with entries capped at a total of 2000 wines to ensure the most rigorous judging process.

Last year’s Competition attracted the most diverse range of entries in the competition’s history, with wines entered from 13 countries, representing over 100 different grape varieties.

Wineries have till 15 September to enter the competition, with judging to 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”.

Competition Director of the Sydney International Wine Competition, Brett Ling, said the Competition continued to attract national and international attention because of the relevance of the judging process to consumer tastes.

“Recent Competition results have shown that some of the best performing wines are also amongst the best-value wines, reflecting the industry’s move towards food friendly wines of balance and harmony at all price points,” said Ling.

“For most consumers, wine is best enjoyed with food, and so judging wines with food, in the right environment, is the best way to ensure that wine show awards are relevant for consumers. Warren Mason founded the Sydney International Wine Competition on that premise, and the tradition continues under our long-standing Chairman of Judges, Kym Milne.”

Sydney Royal Wine Experience throws open its doors to public

One of the largest selection of wines seen in Australia will be made available to Australian wine lovers when the Sydney Royal Wine Experience is held later this month.

Just days after the completion of the prestigious annual KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show judging, the Sydney Royal Wine Experience will see the public able to enjoy their preferred selections and enjoy samples of the celebrated Trophy winning wines.

More than 2200 wines tasted by expert local and international judges in the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show will be made available to members of the public in a gala day at Sydney Showground July 29th, 2pm to 6pm.

Arrive early, grab your results catalogue and sample your way through this year’s successes, taste new trends in wine and learn a thing or two thanks to our Expert Judges’ Tours (from the likes of Tyrrell’s Wines, Stargazer Wine, McWilliam’s Wines and McLeish Estate Wines).The day will also feature live music.

There’ll also be gourmet boards laden with Sydney Royal award-winning cheese and charcuterie.

It is the final event in almost two weeks of wine appreciation at the headquarters of the Sydney Royal, the Sydney Showground.

Sydney Royal Wine Committee Chair of Judges Samantha Connew says the Sydney Royal Wine Experience is the Royal Agricultural Society’s way of showcasing Australia’s ever-developing expertise in wine production.

“Gone are the days when Australia’s flirtation with wine was all but limited to Riesling or Chardonnay,” Connew said.

“The wine palate of Australians has developed greatly in recent years and our winemakers are always working hard to meet that demand and staying ahead of trend.”

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