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Published:  23 July, 2008

Black Label is the one

Brian McGuigan, the larger-than-life Australian winemaker, expects to sell 375,000 9-litre cases in the UK this year. McGuigan, who claims to be Australia's third largest grape grower, told Harpers he believes the success of his flagship brand, Black Label, is due to the relationship he and Vinoceros have with the 300 independents and the wholesalers they supply. "As a small to medium-sized company, that relationship is the spine of our business," he said. McGuigan will never say never to being listed by the multiples, but he will not pay for the privilege. "I am about building brands," he said. "I do not want to discount heavily to buy our way into the supermarkets." The light, fruity style of Black Label - which is a blend of Shiraz (approximately 50%) and Grenache (38%), with the balance made of Mataro and Mourvdre - is popular in the on-trade, where it is listed by Eldridge Pope, St Austell Brewery, and Frederick Robinson. The Black Label range is about to be extended with a new dual varietal, Gewurztraminer/Riesling. McGuigan is also looking to add a Verdelho to his current Bin range. "The wine producers in Europe are trained to do what their fathers and grand-fathers did," said McGuigan. "We are innovators, a very young industry, not hamstrung or hidebound by traditions. Our business is innovative, virile and we are continually looking to do it better and more efficiently, at a price that our consumer is happy with."