Tesco urges Oz to go more Italian

Producers in Australia should harness the potential of Italian grape varieties to help protect Australia's market share in the UK,

said Tesco's product development manager, Pierpaolo Petrassi MW.

Speaking at the retailer's spring press tasting, Petrassi said: "If it's not careful, Australia is in danger of becoming what it criticized France for

10 years ago -

being insular and thinking what you make is important and not w hat the consumer wants."

Varieties such as Fiano, Arneis and Sangiovese are showing "enormous promise" in Australia, and if

more widely planted

could help regenerate consumer excitement ,

said Petrassi. "You can't forget that when Australia first came to the market it was genuinely different. It can't afford to lose that," he added.

Head of BWS Dan Jago said Australia was "ideally positioned" to meet the growing demand for "lighter, fresher, aromatic" wines, and he was positive about the future for the country in the UK market. "I'm reassured by the size of the harvest versus the scaremongering in Australia. A lot of people were using it as an opportunity to ramp up prices and now that's no longer necessary."

Among the new Australian wines unveiled at the tasting was the 2002 De Bortoli All Rounder Semillon from Riverina. Retailing at £6.99, it is a dry botrytis wine, rather than being a sweet style. The parcel had been forgotten at De Bortoli until it was tasted by Phil Reedman, Tesco's wine representative in Australia. Other

newcomers include Tesco Finest Block 7a Viognier 2007 (£6.99) and 2006 Yaldara Estate Shiraz/Cabernet/Durif blend (£7.99).

New Zealand wines are the fastest-growing category at Tesco, Jago told OLN. He said: "In the past we underperformed in New Zealand . We didn't have the range to support UK tastes, now we have one of the best ."

Tesco in figures

Average bottle price: £4.07. "Up 27% in four years," according to Tesco's Nick Juby

Size of range: 1,100 wines

Average basket spend on Tesco's website: £120

Tesco Wine Club members: 550,000.

News in brief

Bruno Colomer Martí has been appointed head winemaker at Codorníu cavas, reporting to winemaking director Arthur O'Connor. Colomer joins from Heretat Mas Tinell winery, where he has been technical manager since 2005. Prior to this, he spent nine years as manager of cavas at Mont Ferrant SA. Current technical manager

Jordi Ratera

will assume the role of head of winemaking projects, overseeing all Grupo Codorníu wineries.

Leeuwin Estate has redesigned the labels of its two Prelude Vineyards wines. The premium pair are 2006 Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay and 2003 Prelude Vineyards Cabernet/Merlot, sourced from the Margaret River. The Leeuwin Estate wines are imported into the UK by Domaine Direct.

Thierry's is the latest company to produce a wine-based drink in a can. The importer has launched a Spanish rosé spritzer with a dash of pomegranate juice. The canned drink has an abv of 5.3% and an rrp of 99p.

Pernod Ricard UK has appointed Nick Morton

senior brand manager for Champagne Perrier-Jouët. Morton will oversee the development and implementation of all marketing strategies for Champagne Perrier-Jouët in the UK. Morton has extensive marketing and management consultancy experience, and moves to Pernod from First Drinks, where he spent three years as brand manager.

ZGM has launched a branded German Pinot Blanc. Palatium is the first of a series of branded and own-label wines to be launched by ZGM as part of a £4.8 million investment in the UK. It is designed to "target consumers who already enjoy quality German wines while challenging misconceptions that remain among many consumers and encourage new drinkers". It has an rrp of £5.99.

Casa Girelli has launched a pair of mini Canaletto wines in 25cl screwcapped bottles

- Pinot Grigio delle Venezie and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo . " In the current climate with so much concern about the number of units we consume, we feel the consumer will appreciate the option of buying wine in this smaller bottle size," said Stefano Girelli of Casa Girelli.