Fruit bombs may topple Oz

25 July, 2008

Australia is in danger of losing its position as the number one supplier of wine to the UK if it doesn't stop producing "big, tannic, alcoholic wines", a leading trade figure has warned.

Neil McGuigan, general manager of Australian Vintage - the company behind brands McGuigan and Tempus Two - has urged producers to adapt to changing consumer demand for "more floral, delicate whites and plummy reds".

If wine styles don't evolve, Australia risks losing its market dominance, McGuigan told OLN. "In the 90s, all the major varieties were fruit bombs, and oak and tannins were important. The British consumer is moving on and we need to adjust our style to ones that are appropriate. If we continue doing the same things as the last 10 years, we will lose our number one position," he said.

Producers must work hard to lower the alcoholic content of their wines, according to McGuigan, who said Australian Vintage has been put under pressure by the UK's major multiples to drop McGuigan's abv from 14% to 12.5%. "We have got to deliver the same flavour at a lower alcohol. It's front of mind to what we are doing every day in the viticulture and the winery," he said.

McGuigan

added producers shouldn't rule out blending between regions: "The best results in a lot of the wines come from multi-regional blends. "

To meet changing consumer tastes in the UK, Australian Vintage is rolling out a five-strong UK-specific range that will initially be available in Tesco

next month. McGuigan Discover features Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Langhorne Creek Shiraz/Viognier, Victorian Pinot Grigio, south eastern Australian Moscato and a Cabernet Sauvignon rosť. Retailing for £7.99, the wines will be promoted as food accompaniments.

McGuigan described the whites in the range as having "a spine of acidity and much more length and layering of flavours" than generic Aussie whites. He said the Shiraz/Viognier has "warming redcurrant notes" rather than replicating Australia's intense blockbuster styles.




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