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Australia presents artisanal credentials to UK trade at Shoreditch tasting

Published:  21 September, 2016

Cargo nightclub in Shoreditch saw 23 boutique and artisanal winemakers showing some 220 wines to the UK's independently minded on- and off-trade at the inaugural Artisans of Australian Wine tasting on 20 September.

Featuring a mix of cooler climate, terroir focused, natural and minimalists intervention wines, this event was designed as part of a push to balance the image of Australia's big brand-driven market presence with a reminder of the diversity and smaller production winemaking that is prevalent across the country's many winemaking regions.

"The aim is to show a new focus - even though many winemakers have been producing wines like this for quite a while - and take a different approach from the normal trade tastings," said Laura Jewell MW, head of Wine Australia UK, speaking at the buzzing tasting under the Shoreditch railway arches.

"The Artisans [tasting] brings together similar minded winemakers that are most likely to appeal to restaurants, bars and independents, in a venue that flags up this diversity and difference."

Against a backdrop of rising UK interest in the diversity that continues to emerge from Australia, the tasting brought together a host of small production but cultish wines, including the likes of Lethbridge, Teusner, Ochota Barrels, Jamsheed, Luke Lambert, Bill Downie, Vinterloper and many others besides.

Wine Australia co-ordinated the tasting, but it was driven by a host of UK importers that are committed to bringing in exciting and individual wines from Australia, ranging from the likes of Enotria&Coe, Negociants and Liberty Wines to Indigo Wines, Swig and Les Caves de Pyrene, plus many others besides.

Simon Thorpe MW, managing director of Negociants UK, commented: "There is more noise around Australia again, with lots of people talking about and writing about these individual wines, and for us, certainly, there is real interest and good support in the independent retail trade."

"It is important that Australia doesn't sell itself too cheaply, as that is not sustainable, so we always try to support [activities] that add more value into the category, which is what those here are doing."

Tennille Chalmers, of Chalmers in Heathcote, outlined the philosophy behind this affiliation of artisanal producers. As a family grape nursery business turned producer, Chalmers is now producing an evolving range of Italian varietal wines from vines that it has long specialised in supplying.

"We wanted to be part of showing a point of difference for the Australian wine scene, so we made the decision to focus on Italian varieties," said Chalmers.

"We are trying to create a new movement in Australia, to bring more focus onto the diversity that we have, and the smaller producers that are doing this, which is what Artisans of Australian Wine is all about."

The UK remains Australia's largest export market for wine by volume, accounting for a 23.4% share, with IRI figures showing a 3% value growth for Australia to May 2016 against an overall decline in UK wine sales.