Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Pinot Noir in spotlight at Australia Trade Tasting

Published:  01 February, 2024

The Australia Trade Tasting returned to London on 30 January 2024, 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. Pinot Noir is also in the spotlight – exports of Australian Pinot Noir to the UK are up 28% year-on-year.

“There’s been quite a lot of focus on Pinot Noir in Australia, we had a big Pinot Noir convention in March 2023 in the Mornington Peninsula, but it wasn’t just Mornington, it was all regions with a lot of international guests,” Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia GM told Harpers.

“I think there’s been a knock-on effect around the world, so [critic and Australia expert] Matthew Jukes, in conjunction with that, did a Pinot Noir tasting here in London, and we did one in America as well.”

Australia is home to more than 150 grape varieties across 65 wine regions, where a new generation of winemakers are pushing the boundaries and crafting some of the most intriguing wines arriving to the UK market. 

Jewell continued: “There’s certainly a lot more interest in alternative varieties or emerging varieties, so the likes of Nero D’Avola, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Picpoul, Fiano and Vermentino are maturing and finding their place in vineyards. McLaren Vale is a great example where Fiano and Vermentino really sing, so it’s great to see those starting to come through and hit the market.

“People are beginning to associate Australia with more than just Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet.”

Multiple retailers continue to champion the big Australian brands, however, and it is those wines, at the lower end of the price scale, that stand to be penalised most by the August duty hikes.

“Shelf prices have had to increase because of the duty hikes, which has not been great for consumers, and it’s perhaps indicated that consumers are more loyal to price points than they are to brands,” Marcus Parry, senior brand manager, Fells Australia, told Harpers at the tasting. 

“However, many of the wines we have come from icon wineries and really tell their own story. It’s those wines that have proven successful for us, particularly in the on-trade,” he added.

On a possible influx of lower abv wines as a result of the hikes, Parry continued: “I think at this stage without any kind of consumer evidence or feedback, discussions around lower abv are driven more by commercials than consumer trends.”

Meanwhile, 19 producers showcased wines seeking UK distribution, an initiative that has proven successful in past events.

“Multiple retailers are the bread and butter, but the focus of something like today is very much the on-trade, the independents, premium wines and smaller wineries,” Jewel said.

“We’ve got a lot of very small wineries here, we had a lot of success with our 'seeking distribution area' last year, where four or five wines were picked up,” she concluded.