Chile'd Out

Friday, November 19, 2021

Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s Australia was the most dynamic and aggressive global wine marketer/exporter, BUT since we “hit the jackpot” with China we have become complacent and dare I say it, lazy. We keep on doing the “same old, same old” and expecting the whole world to want our wine – rather like the French used to do.

We have been usurped as the export dynamo by little old Chile, who whilst making less wine than us, now export more than we do. Who whilst not known for super premium wines, is selling its wines into many of the fussiest markets in the world!

It started with Japan, where they concluded their FTA (Free Trade Agreement) seven years (yes, 7 years) quicker than what Australia did – negotiations were both started at the same time. Since then Chile has gone from No.6 imported wine in Japan to No.1, while we have gone from No.7 to No.6!!

Likewise in Korea where Chile sells twice as much wine as what Australia does.

Now Chile is about to run rings around us in Indonesia. “Indonesia? But that’s a Muslim country”, I hear you say. Yes, but there are over seven million non-Muslims and expats living there.

Georgia was the first country to dive into Indonesia 4-5 years ago by having their Ambassador hold wine and food banquets to which they invited all the F&B managers of 5-Star hotels plus all the non-Muslim members of Parliament. Today, they sell a reasonable amount of wine to Indonesia, which is slowly but steadily growing and a darn sight more than what Australia is selling there.

Now, along come the Chileans who are conducting their “Chilean Terroir” roadshow in Jakarta. Held at the Westin Hotel it will feature wines from 16 of Chile’s premium wineries. The event will kick-off with a seminar conducted by the President of the Jakarta Chapter of Indonesian Sommelier Association, and then being followed by tastings. The local involvement has been attracting a lot of interest from the Jakarta hotelier fraternity.

In my humble opinion, Wine Australia should be focusing on new and potentially new markets rather than continuing to support Australian efforts, in more mature markets such as the UK and USA. Sure it is easier to do that and shows more direct results, but I believe that the effort in developed markets should be left to the individual wineries and the wine region associations as Wine Australia has already done the “heavy lifting” there some time ago.

So how about if Wine Australia focused on helping us get a foot in the door in new markets like Indonesia, Poland (fastest growing wine market in the world), Brazil, etc., or even help us to ramp up our presence in Vietnam, Korea, Japan, etc.

These are the hard yards that need to be done to open these markets up so that our wineries can then come along and get their wines established in there for the long term.

So how about it? Or will we see ourselves Chile’d out of other markets as well in the future. Same old, same old OR a new approach?

Well that’s my soap box for this week, have a great week and remember to #chooseaustralianwine and where possible enjoy #emergingvarieties. Cheers!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week we are talking about SAUVIGNON GRIS, the rarest of the Bordeaux grapes, as it accounts for only around about 2% of the white grape crop of its native region. The variety that is believed to be a pink skinned mutation of Sauvignon Blanc, almost became extinct during the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th Century. More recently a Loire Valley grower discovered it and has planted it in his vineyards thereby broadening its reach to two regions. Under French AOC  laws, growers are not allowed to bottle it as a single variety, so that producers such as Château de Bellevue (which make a 100% Sauvignon Gris) have to bottle it as a vin de table and sell it simply as, “Bordeaux Blanc”, rather than being able to appellate it as an AOC wine.

Today, there is more SAUVIGNON GRIS grown in the new wine world than in France, with small amounts being grown in Chile, New Zealand and Australia.

It is a very early ripening variety, which has thick skinned berries which display a distinctive pink hue and inherently low yields. It delivers a good concentration of flavour, as the grapes are high in sugar yet have good acidity.

So this week’s wine is the GEORGE’S FOLLY ‘SO VAIN JANE’ FLEURIEU SAUVIGNON GRIS 2021 - love the name!!  It has a very interesting bouquet with tropical fruit and dried apricot aromas, a flavoursome palate which is light, bright and crisp with a clean, refreshing finish making it A RIPPER WINE!

While it is most enjoyable on its own, this wine is a great accompaniment for seafood and most cheeses – other than the very mature ones.

Since the variety is not quite as rare as hen’s teeth, but still quite rare, I would suggest that if you come across a bottle you should grab it and give it a try.

Winery Link: www.georgesfolly.com.au