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 showcased nearly 1100 wines from 41 different regions. Over 1000 visitors attended from across the 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.
“This year’s Australia Day Tasting in London was a great success. There was a fantastic atmosphere, full of people discovering wines they hadn’t tasted before and renewing old acquaintances, while exhibitor tables had a constant flurry of visitors, and master classes were well-attended,” said Clark.
“The annual ADT is a very important event to showcase our wines on an international stage and I was delighted to see the enthusiasm for Australian wine.”
“I tasted some great wines from producers I already work with and I discovered new wineries, so hoping to make a few additions to the range.”
Mr 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.
“I tasted some great wines from producers I already work with and I discovered new wineries, so hoping to make a few additions to the range. It was also lovely to catch up with some of the winemakers I met in Australia last year,” said Ruth Yates, Managing Director and Buyer of Corks Out.
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).
“There seemed to be real renewed buzz around Australian wines at ADT this year. There was a great atmosphere and attendance from the press as well as existing and prospective customers alike, particularly amongst the London on trade,” said Lucy Bland, from Fields, Morris & Verdin.
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.
“Both Australian wine and Australian music are unique expressions of a diverse Australian culture and landscape,” said Clark.
“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.
“Our sector has had a turbulent decade since 2007, but our enduring commitment to innovation and quality, diversity, creativity and authenticity means we are primed for a new era of prosperity and the latest market performances for Australia suggest that we are well on our way,” he said.
Australia’s Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, also attended the event.
“As my first visit to the Australia Day Tasting, I was delighted to experience the strong interest from participants in Australia’s broad wine offering, with many regions, varieties and styles being showcased. The event reinforced our reputation as a premium wine producer and demonstrated our commitment to share our wines with the world,” said Senator Ruston.
“The Australian Government’s work with the sector on reforms to the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate and the $50m Export and Regional Wine Support Package has renewed the Australian wine sector’s focus on export markets.
“The Australian wine industry does more than produce some of the world’s finest drops; it supports many regional economies and thousands of local jobs,” she said.
The Australia Day Tasting in London is the first event of this annual three-city roadshow. Tastings follow in Edinburgh today (25 January) and Dublin next week (29 January).
For more information about the Australia Day Tastings 2018:
For photos of the London Australia Day Tasting 2018: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/twavtu4b802d6yu/AADCs59vLQdCsEwtXqksERWGa?dl=0
For the State of the Sector report:
The music references in the State of the Sector report can be found on the Uniquely Australian playlist on Spotify.