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.



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.



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, 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

Victoria launches Wine Industry Development Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labelling plays significant role in wine choice – research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wine Communicator Awards open for entries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


China gets on board the Australian wine roadshow express

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pinnacle wins big at international Shiraz/Syrah wine competition

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

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

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

Gold medals were awarded to the following Pinnacle wines:

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

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

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

Artisans of Australian Wine crowned Trade Drinks Event of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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