Category Focus: Down Under on the up

Wine from Australia and New Zealand is often compared favourably to its "old world" counterparts

Renowned for exciting fruity flavours, southern hemisphere wines continue to tick the right boxes for Irish consumers, writes Gillian Hamill


Brand Central

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16 July 2019

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Australian wine holds an impressive 16.7% of market share in Ireland and sells over 1.5m cases here, ShelfLife’s resident wine expert Helen Coburn recently reported. Positive news also emerged at the start of this year from ‘The Australia Day’ Trade Tastings which returned to London, Edinburgh and Dublin in January. In 2019, the roadshow featured more than 1,000 wines from 240 producers across 45 regions of Australia; giving a taste of the country’s exciting and diverse styles of wine, from classic to contemporary, rogue to the refined.

What’s more, the organisers reported a number of producers were exhibiting for the very first time this year. An indication that, despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it is business as normal for many producers and there’s even an air of opportunity in the market.

As points out, many of the top 100 wines of the world are from New World wine regions, including Marlborough in New Zealand and Barossa in South Australia. New Zealand produces sensational Sauvignon Blancs and perfect Pinot Noirs, said to rival the finest Burgundy reds. Australia’s Chardonnays can hold their own against the best from California and the top prize for reds are sumptuous Shirazes. The latest harvest has been positive in New Zealand, moreover. A wonderfully warm summer has contributed to a superb vintage for New Zealand’s of the harvest is being touted as exceptional from coast to coast on the South Island.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says a highquality harvest is good news for the industry as export growth continues, with an increase of 4% to $1.78 billion over the last year.

Vibrant, flavoursome and approachable

The Yellow Tail range is vibrant and flavoursome at an afforable price point

Yellow Tail believes great quality wine can be affordable and good fun too. The brand’s wines are vibrant, flavoursome and approachable, making everyday moments more enjoyable. When it comes to wine, Yellow Tail likes to make its own rules – the only thing the team is really serious about is the quality! Yellow Tail is instantly recognisable, both for its appearance and personality.

If you want to cut to the chase, it’s simple; drink it, share it, and enjoy it! Often referred to as the classic Australian red wine, Shiraz is an easy to drink, all-time favourite. The Yellow Tail Shiraz is no exception to the rule.

Once the grapes are crushed and stems removed, they are fermented on skins in contact with oak. Temperature controlled fermentation ensures maximum varietal flavour, colour and tannin extraction. Concentrated red berry fruit is complemented by subtle liquorice, sweet blueberry and subtle spice notes derived from the oak.

Yellow Tail Shiraz is a youthful and vibrant red wine that displays red berry fruit flavours with hints of liquorice and spice. It’s soft and juicy on the palate with a lengthy and weighty finish. Enjoy this wine with a hearty steak or with a bunch of friends in front of a campfire.

Pinot Grigio is an Italian grape variety that grows very well in Australia’s warm climate, creating wines of not only great drinking, but excellent for matching with food. Enjoying Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio makes you feel like you’ve made a little trip to Italy – without the flight!

The fruit for Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio is harvested in the cool of night, and then pressed and clarified. Particular care is taken throughout this process to avoid oxidation. The clarified juice is fermented at low temperatures by a selected yeast strain to preserve fruit intensity and freshness. The cold storage of the wine maintains the youthful character until it is bottled.

Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio is delightfully fresh with aromas of pear, hints of green apples and a zing of citrus lime. It has a crisp, clean palate and features vibrant flavours of passionfruit, pear and apple. Serve lightly chilled with Asian inspired share plates on a warm summer evening.

Meanwhile, rosé is a delicate and fresh wine that incorporates some of the colour from the grape skins. The ‘rosé revolution’ has well and truly taken off and this wine varietal’s popularity continues to grow.

For Yellow Tail Rosé, the fruit is sourced from the highest quality vineyards and harvested in the cool of night to retain maximum freshness and flavour. The winemaker selects free-run juice fractions to ensure the wine retains its delicate salmon colour and softness on the palate. Cool temperature fermentation amplifies its floral and fruit flavours and aromas, and delivers a crisp and refreshing acidity.

Yellow Tail Rosé displays fresh aromas of strawberry, rose petals and honey dew melon, along with light notes of musk and raspberry. With flavours of white peach, red cherries and strawberries, this wine has a textured, well-rounded palate with a lingering, fresh mouth feel.

Enjoy slightly chilled with grilled fish or chicken. All three wines are bottled at the Casella Family Winery in Yenda, New South Wales.

A feast of fruit flavour

Sauvignon Blanc has been a flagship wine for Hunter’s since the very beginning in 1979. This is the variety that introduced Hunter’s and New Zealand wine to the world back in 1986 at the Sunday Times Wine Festival in London.

Classically Marlborough, Hunter’s 2017 Sauvignon Blanc immediately shows passionfruit and ripe tropical fruit aromas with a touch of herbaceous capsicum. It has a refreshing multi-layered palate of citrus and tropical fruits. These flavours and aromas leave a fresh lingering finish on the palate, making it a full, satisfying wine with balanced acidity.

Hunter’s vinification is aimed at retaining the maximum possible fruit aromas and flavours as seen in the vineyard. To do this, the team uses protective anaerobic techniques with minimal handling. The grapes were harvested in the cool of the morning, then destemmed, gently crushed, and only the free-run juice is sent to stainless steel tanks. Hunter’s wine is fermented at low temperatures with neutral yeast. After fermentation, the wine is racked and cold stabilised before bottling. Hunter’s is distributed by Gilbeys with Bibendum.

International success story

McGuigan Wines continue to outperform the market. In fact, according to a recent report, McGuigan is now the number one Australian wine brand in the offtrade. Chief winemaker Neil McGuigan has won the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) Award for ‘The Best Winemaker in the World’ four times, distinguishing McGuigan Wines as the only winery in the competition’s history to win the title four times.

The Black Label range comprises of a Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Rosé and Malbec.

McGuigan shows its innovation having recently introduced McGuigan Frizzante to the market. This is a light style of sparkling wine full of lively yet delicate bubbles that give a crisp and refreshing sparkle. The acidity is perfectly balanced with soft citrus fruits and a hint of dryness. McGuigan Frizzante is made with the grape variety, Glera, which is the same variety used for prosecco. It is also made in the same way; the difference is that it’s produced in Australia, not Italy. ‘Like Prosecco? Love McGuigan Frizzante!’ is therefore a fitting tagline. McGuigan Frizzante is available in 750cl and 20cl variants.

McGuigan has also launched a new range of de-alcoholised wine called Delight with only 0.5% ABV, currently available in Rosé and Moscato. McGuigan is distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.

Ireland’s top New Zealand choice

Villa Maria Estate was founded by Sir George Fistonich in 1961 and is 100% New Zealand and family-owned. Villa Maria’s standard Private Bin range has been established for over 25 years. Today, Villa Maria employs more than 250 permanent staff and exports wine to over 50 countries worldwide.

Villa Maria has been New Zealand’s leading wine award-winner, both nationally and internationally, since the early 1980s. Villa Maria is now the number one New Zealand wine brand in the Irish market. What’s more, it is currently the fifth most admired wine brand in the world according to Drinks International 2019.

Villa Maria offers a range of SKUs, ranging from Private Bin, Cellar Select and Reserve.

Villa Maria’s latest launch is the Villa Maria Private Bin Lighter range of lower alcohol wines. Consisting of three varietals – a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and a Rosé – each wine contains 25% less alcohol than the same varietal in the standard Private Bin range.

“An increasing number of consumers are looking for drink options to suit their healthier lifestyles,” says Paul Raper, UK & Ireland market manager at Villa Maria Estate. “This range offers these lifestyle conscious consumers exactly that – a lighter alternative in terms of alcohol and calories but made without compromising on taste.”

The winemaking team at Villa Maria carefully selects earlier ripening grapes and picks them before too much sugar develops. This results in wines that are naturally lower in alcohol but still contain plenty of flavour. The Villa Maria range is distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.

A trio of treats

Ampersand commenced its partnership with McWilliam’s in April after being appointed the exclusive Irish distributor of McWilliam’s Wines and the iconic Mount Pleasant collection.

Ampersand is extremely excited about the re-launch and return of McWilliam’s Wines to the Irish market. With over 140 years of history and an Irish connection, the six consecutive generations of the McWilliam’s family have strived to be at the forefront of Australian wine innovation. Ampersand has selected three collections from McWilliam’s International wine portfolio to bring to Irish consumers:

The Inheritance range: A selection of four wines which embody the McWilliam’s history of 140 years of winemaking experience, showcasing a collection of elegant, vibrant wines with fruit-driven flavours. The range consists of a Chardonnay, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz and a Cabernet-Merlot blend, all with an attractive price point of €9.99. Widely celebrated for its fruitdriven, consumer-friendly wines, McWilliam’s Inheritance is an everyday drinking style which delivers real value for money.

J.J. McWilliam: John James McWilliam – known as ‘J.J.’ – was a true Australian pioneer who established McWilliam’s first winery in 1913. J.J. McWilliam pioneered the Griffith region as a premium winemaking region and set the foundation of the winery on which six subsequent generations of his family would build. Dedicated to J.J., this range showcases his vision and tenacity which is still carried on today by the McWilliam family. Retailing at €14.95, the superior quality of these wines is evident, far surpassing their price points and they are expected to be a great hit with Irish wine consumers.

Mount Pleasant Family collection: Mount Pleasant wines were established by the legendary winemaker Maurice O’Shea, one of the founding fathers of the modern Australian wine industry, and are highly regarded amongst some of Australia’s most iconic wines. Mount Pleasant was named Winery of the Year in the Halliday Wine Companion 2017, and its iconic 2011 Maurice O’Shea Shiraz which was awarded 99 points, is one of the benchmark wines of Australia.

The Family range focuses on the unique personality of each of the vineyards at Mount Pleasant and offers superb quality at affordable prices. Popular wines of classic styles, the Elizabeth Semillon and Philip Shiraz will be available through Ampersand and will retail on-shelf from €28.

The Ampersand selection offers amazing wines across all price points from one of Australia’s leaders in premium regional winemaking and Ampersand is confident Irish consumers will love these outstanding wines. For more information or if you would like to stock McWilliam’s, contact your Ampersand representative or call the sales line directly on 01 4130150.




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