Australian winery Oxford Landing has launched a premium tier called Marty’s Block to honour the estate’s long-serving vineyard manager.

The new range is inspired by Marty Burnell’s knowledge of the soil, vines and history of the vineyard and comprises a Chardonnay, Shiraz Cabernet, Viognier and Tempranillo.

Marty’s Block has an rrp of £8.99, meaning it commands a premium to the core Oxford Landing range, and it is imported and distributed by Negociants UK.

Managing director Simon Thorpe MW told OLN: “Marty is a guy who has worked in the vineyard for 37 years. It’s looking to the principle that there’s a real person and it’s not just a fabricated brand with no home.

“Oxford Landing is quite differentiated from its competitors. It has its own vineyard, its own winery, it’s Australia bottled, its own nursery, it’s vegan, there’s a very large amount of natural fermentation… It’s a small winemaking philosophy.

“It gives great control to the winemakers. They can be precise about what attributes they want in blends.”

Referencing the new tier, he added: “We need to find the brand versus exclusive balance. There is greater and greater requirement for exclusivity. That continues to grow. The challenge is to avoid SKU proliferation within specific brands. Oxford Landing is one tier, one price point. There is no confusion and that’s part of the strength of the brand. But we recognise we have to find solutions where necessary.

“The core Oxford Landing collection, which currently is the second largest Australian wine brand retailing at over £6, has seen strong growth in the off-trade across the multiple grocer, convenience and cash and carry sectors and this new, premium collection will provide consumers with the confidence to trade-up knowing that these wines capture the authenticity and provenance of Oxford Landing.”

For his part, Marty is humbled to be immortalised on a wine brand enjoyed around the world. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would have the privilege to have a collection of wines named after me,” he said. “It is an incredibly humbling experience to be recognised with such an honour and I am proud to work for such a great company.”

A social media campaign using the slogan “have a drink with Marty” will give UK consumers the chance to “get to know a real South Australian”.

Thorpe said: “The Australian category is seeing a great potential for growth in the £6-10 price segment showing a willingness amongst consumers to trade up within Australian wine. This is alongside strong demand for super premium and iconic wines at a much higher price point. Both play different but very important parts within the UK market.”

Senior brand manager Anna Gillman added: “Strong, trusted brands like Oxford Landing are needed in the core £6-£10 segment to provide mainstream consumers with the confidence to pay more for a bottle of Australian wine. Growth is coming from the mainstream varietals such as Chardonnay and Shiraz-Cabernet blends but also within alternative and emerging varieties at the £6-10 price bracket, suggesting consumers are looking to explore and discover more.”