In Issue 105, 12 months ago, Wine Australia reported on the growing popularity of Australian Pinot Noir. This growth has continued, particularly in the domestic market.
To provide some context, Pinot Noir is the fourth most crushed red variety in Australia, after Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot (see Figure 1). In 2018, just over 53,000 tonnes of Pinot Noir were crushed, representing 6 per cent of the national red crush. The four major regions for Pinot Noir are Yarra Valley, Tasmania, Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula.
Figure 1: Share of Australian red wine grape crush by top five varieties
Source: Wine Australia
According to IRI Worldwide, in the 12 months ended 31 March 2019, Pinot Noir was the third biggest selling red wine in the domestic off-trade market behind Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot Noir held a 10 per cent share of total red wine sales.
Australian Pinot Noir accounted for 65 per cent of the total value of Pinot Noir sales. While total Pinot Noir sales increased by 11 per cent, Australian Pinot Noir sales grew by 17 per cent. Among the top 10 categories in the market, only rosé sales grew at a faster rate (up 27 per cent).
The average price for Australian Pinot Noir was $16.74 per bottle, just below the total average price for all Pinot Noir sales of $17 per bottle.
While there is limited data on Pinot Noir sales in the on-trade, insights from two sources suggest that Pinot Noir over-indexes in the domestic on-trade market.
A report published by Wine Business Solutions – Wine On-Premise Australia 2019 – shows that Pinot Noir, with 17.9 per cent of red wine listings, was the second most listed red variety behind Shiraz (18.9 per cent) and well ahead of Cabernet Sauvignon (11.8 per cent). In 2019, the share of Pinot Noir listings increased by 3 per cent. Tasmania had a significant increase in listings to become the number one listed region for Pinot Noir (from 10.8 per cent to 17 per cent) ahead of Yarra Valley (15.8 per cent).
The Annual Beverage Index On-Premise Industry Trends report published by eBev, shows that in 2017–18, Pinot Noir was the second most popular red variety with a 22.7 per cent share of red wine consumed in the domestic on-trade behind Shiraz (30.8 per cent) and well ahead of Cabernet Sauvignon (8.2 per cent). Pinot Noir was the most popular wine consumed in restaurants, second most popular in bars, and third in pubs.
Broader consumer trends
Research from Wine Intelligence (Australian Landscapes August 2018 Report) suggests the role of food in Australian culture is increasing and this has a positive affect on the wine category, particularly for food-friendly and lighter-style wines such as Pinot Noir. In 2018, it was reported that almost two thirds of regular Australian wine drinkers believe that food and wine matching is important when choosing a wine, which is significantly higher than in 2017 (60 per cent v 52 per cent).
Increasing experimentation with different cuisines in Australia has also led to experimentation in wine choices, including consumers buying lighter styles of wine, such as Pinot Noir, to complement food choices.
According to a major retailer, ‘Current wine drinkers don’t see lighter reds as being problematic; many see it as a positive. They’re not necessarily looking for lighter alcohol, just for less fruit richness, less oaky and less traditional wines.’
These consumer trends are fuelling the growth in Australian Pinot Noir sales in both the domestic off-trade and on-trade markets.