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Grenache in the spotlight at UK’s biggest showcase of Australian wine

Published:  25 January, 2023

The Australia Trade Tasting returned to London on 24 January 2023, showcasing more than 700 wines from 200 wine producers to hundreds of trade and media in the UK.

For Australian wine exports, the UK continues to be the biggest market by volume – accounting for 36% share of total export volume. Australia is also the number one country of origin in the UK off-trade, with nearly twice the market share of its nearest rival Italy.

Shiraz and Chardonnay, Australia’s signature styles, are the top varieties exported to the UK as well as globally, although Grenache is also in the spotlight – exports of Australian Grenache to the UK are 33% year on year. The red grape, more commonly associated with the Rhône wine region or Rioja, was showcased throughout the tasting. 

Speaking at the annual event, Wine Australia GM Laura Jewell MW told Harpers: “It’s really good to see the importers supporting us, there are quite a number of new wines, and importers have expanded their portfolios, which is great to see. We’ve also got some new faces with us that haven’t exhibited before and we’ve also got the new-to-market section, so those seeking distribution.

“The producers are being more focused, making sure the quality is spot on, there’s a lot of focus on Chardonnay with the whites, even though there’s a lot more red to be sold, but the demand for whites is increasing, so they are making sure they are getting those right. We’re seeing more rosés coming over. And we’re seeing more Grenaches, more crunchy reds, and I’m loving the label designs.”

Tariffs on Australian wine from China have created an oversupply of red wine and global freight issues which has led to a downturn in red grape prices. The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that China primarily drinks red. 

As a result, there was a lot of variety on display. A total of 51 different grape varieties were showcased, from Albariño and Barbera, Sangiovese and Tempranillo, to Viognier and Zibibbo, as well as 150 wines from new producers seeking distribution in the UK.

Australia Trade Tasting attendee Oz Clarke OBE, wine writer, television presenter and broadcaster, said: “I’d forgotten how thrilling Australian wine is. Old faces have never been better and there were wonderful new faces I didn’t even know about.”

Lay and Wheeler buyer Beth Pearce MW added: “I tasted brilliant wines from producers I already work with and I found some gems in the new-to-market area. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with the Aussies.”

One of those to add new wine Australian wines to their portfolio was Richard Kelley MW, Dreyfus Ashby. He told Harpers: “I’ve always had an interest in Australia. With the new wines [in my portfolio], I want to show the broad range of styles coming out of the various areas. I think with Barossa there’s a change, the big soupy wines are becoming much less so; try the Grenaches, they are more Pinot-esque, and we’ve always had a soft spot for Clare Riesling.”

Laura Jewell MW added: “It was great to see the enthusiasm for our diverse range of wines at the Australia Trade Tasting. From the conversations I had with guests, it’s clear that Australian wine continues to be a key category for the UK trade, and I’m hopeful that this will translate to new opportunities for our producers and increased sales of Australian wines.”

Keeping up the momentum for Australian wine promotion, 61 Australian wineries and six regional bodies will visit Germany in March to exhibit at Wine Australia’s largest-ever stand at ProWein, where they will present their wines and connect with trade from across the world.