Australian wine 2016: The UK’s top searches
As we approach the end of another year – a year that’s seen some changes in the Australian wine market in the UK - Wine Australia thought it would be interesting to see what Australian wine lovers in the UK have been searching for in 2016. To find out we asked our good friends at wine-searcher.com for some insight on the UK’s search habits when it came to Australian wine. The resulting top 10 searches (see below) had more than one or two surprises in store…
The UK’s top Australian searches on Wine-Searcher.com
The first thing that struck us on reading the list was how dominated it was by fine wines. Wine-searcher lists nigh-on 4,000 Australian wines, wines ranging from around £5 to around £2,200 a bottle. In the top 10, however, the cheapest wine – when taken as an average over all vintages listed – was around £53 a bottle and the most expensive weighed in at £382. This suggests a serious interest in Australia’s fine wine sector, an interest that is very much in line with the general migration of Australian wine into the premium sector.
Another surprise was that not one of the wines on the list was white. Despite Australian wines’ deserved reputation for fine white wines, one built on classics from regions such as the Margaret River, Eden Valley and Tasmania from world class wineries such as Leeuwin, Henschke and Freycinet, not one appeared on the list. Even Penfolds’ Yattarna failed to make the top 10, showing that when it comes to the UK’s wine lovers at least, Australian reds still lead the way.
Classic wines old and new
That South Australia dominated the list was, given the saturation of red wines, perhaps unsurprising. Though it was interesting to see that the list didn’t read as either a list of 10 Shiraz or as a list of 10 Penfolds’ wines. Varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon made a couple of appearances and the hugely popular Syrah-Viognier blend also crept into the top ten.
A notable entrant (if hardly surprising in terms of the quality of the wine and the lavish scores it attracts from critics – a 93/100 average on wine-searcher) came from a relative newcomer, Ben Glaetzer, and his Amon Ra Shiraz. In a list that is heavy on big, established brands it was good to see an unexpected entrant and this is a testament to the explosion of fantastic, relatively affordable, fine wines that have come onto the Australian wine in recent years from newer, smaller producers.
Of course, some of the wines on the list could’ve been predicted; it would have been a real shock if Grange hadn’t been on it and it would be pretty surprising if we’d not seen Hill of Grace riding high in the charts too. The positions of some of other likely candidates was interesting though. Who’d have predicted d’Arenberg’s ‘The Dead Arm’ would have come in at number three or that Clarendon Hills' 'Astralis' would have done so well.
Schubert & Henschke: Still leading Australia’s fine wine charge
To a casual observer the fact that the top spots are occupied by Grange and Hill of Grace could suggest that Australia’s fine wine scene has become static, staid even. ‘Penfolds and Henschke have found a formula that works and they’re sticking with it.’ Such a view is to be forgiven, understood even, but it is not correct. For wines to improve - no matter how lofty their reputation – risks sometimes need to be taken, rules broken and methodologies adapted in order for the pursuit of perfection to continue.
Max Schubert’s battles in the 1950s to create Grange are well-documented, and without his belief in Shiraz as a fine wine grape, his work with Ray Beckwith on pH levels, the use oak and other winemaking techniques that we take for granted today, the world of fine wine globally would be much the poorer. Max innovated and achieved, and Penfolds are continuing his explorations to this day.
Prue Henschke is also imbued with this yen for experimentation. Despite being the fifth generation to helm this famous estate and being fortunate enough to have a legion of admirers around the globe, she hasn’t rested on the laurels of her family’s legacy. She too has worked hard to Improve what were already world-leading wines. Her ground-breaking work on canopy management, soil conditioning, cool climate sites and the use of organic and biodynamics methods in creating her wines shows her following in the footsteps of legends such as Max, making for an Australian fine wine scene that is anything but static or staid.
Australian wine 2016: Looking fine
It is gratifying to see the UK’s wine buyers searching for so many Australian fine wines. British wine lovers are discerning, blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fine wine and have a tradition of being open to giving new wines – particularly from Australia – a chance. Given this level of access, and the swell of new fine wines coming through from Australia, it will be fascinating to see what this ranking will look like in another twelve months. Will we see Australia's resurgent Grenache on the list or will a cool climate Pinot Noir make it in? Watch this space and see…
The UK’s Top Australian Searches on Wine-Searcher
- Penfolds Grange Bin 95, South Australia
- Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz, Eden Valley,
- d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale
- Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia
- Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet - Shiraz, South Australia
- Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz, South Australia
- Clarendon Hills Astralis Shiraz, McLaren Vale
- Ben Glaetzer Amon-Ra Unfiltered Shiraz, Barossa Valley
- Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Eden Valley
- Torbreck Runrig Shiraz - Viognier, Barossa Valley
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