Australia’s strategy to push more premium wines is working in the UK and Europe

Australia’s strategy to drive a more premium offer in the UK and Europe appears to be working with the latest set of export figures showing bottled wine is increasing whilst bulk is in decline.

Whilst 80% of the wine shipped to the UK from Australia comes in bulk that share declined by 14% in 2016 to A$184 million, off set by a 6% increase in bottled wine to A$171m.

The figures are particularly “encouraging” for Laura Jewell, head of Wine Australia in the UK and Europe, as it is very much on track with the country’s desire to push up price points and shine the spotlight on the diverse range of quality wines now available in Australia.

All of which was on show at the Australia Day tasting in London this week where there was a particular focus on the number of alternative grape varieties that are now being grown in Australia, with Italian varieties, in particular, to the fore.

Jewell said the new wave of Italian and Mediterranean varieties demonstrate the spirit of adventure and experimentation taking place right across the Australian wine industry. Producers and growers are now keen to explore which varieties work best on their land. The result being unusual varieties are finding a real home in Australia where different grapes styles are being matched to the right soils and conditions.

The figures for speak for themselves. In the last year there has been an increase in the following grape varieties to the UK:

Fiano is up 273% to A$162,000 worth of UK exports.

Vermentiono is up 185% to A$227,000

Sangiovese is up a further 83% to A$396,000

Touriga Nacional up 575% to A$43,000.

It is also being reflected in the increase in higher priced wines and bottled wines. Wine Australia revealed this week that:

* In the UK exports below A$5 per litre were down 10% at A$287m.

* Whilst at the same time exports to the UK above A$5 per litre and above were up 23% to A$68m with exports over A$10 per litre were up by 25% to A$28m.

*  European export figures, including the UK, show wines at $5 a litre (below A$45 per case FOB) fell 6% in 2016 to A$444m.

* In Europe there was a 7% increase in wine exports at A$5 per litre and above to be worth A$126m.

Wine Australia also revealed that its top five European markets are UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. Together they account for 84% of the value of exports to the UK. 

* Netherlands is performing particularly well up 7% in value to A$31m and volume by 2% to 14m litres.

* Swedish exports up 13% in value to A$22m and volumes by 12% to 6 million litres.

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Neville Blech
 

Qualified as a chartered accountant in 1959 and became passionate about food and wine whilst working in Italy in the early sixties.

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