UK BLOG

Friday, January 29, 2021

In this week’s blog Dan covers some interesting news about the UK wine industry…

DECLINE:  The UK wine industry is as they say, “in the wars”. The combined impact of Covid-19 and the uncertainty of Brexit has meant, according to a report in, The Drinks Business, that 9,903 licenced premises closed down last year. Can you imagine that?? 9,903 establishments across the British pubs, restaurants, wine bars and retailers (off licence) ceased to trade. That is massive, and it ain’t over yet with most of the country in stage 3 lockdown until early to mid-February and full re-opening not forecast until Easter. More of these establishments have closed down since the start of the year, making the total over 10,000 licenced premises lost in the country. This figure represents around 10% of all licenced premises in the UK. Imagine 10% of all licenced premises in Australia closing? Thank goodness the various Australian governments handled the pandemic in a much better and more decisive way then the UK did.

INCREASE:   In other UK wine news, according to the Bulk Wine Club (see link below), of the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE), in September 2020 the UK, for the first time, imported more bulk wine (61.3 million litres) than bottled still wine (60 million litres).

Since the declaration of Brexit, bulk wine has become the best performing category in the British market whilst sparkling wine (especially Champagne) has been the worst. In fact bulk is the only category which has shown positive growth.

From the diagrams below, you can see that Australia is the clear leader in terms of volume, however the USA is the leader in $value terms.

It is very interesting to note that all of the top six bulk suppliers to the UK are “New World” wine producers and that the old, long established European producers only feature in “the rest” category.

Over the last few years an increasing amount of the Australian bulk volume to the UK has involved some of Australia’s largest commercial wine brands, where the producers, for economy sake and environmental reasons, ship their wine to the UK in bulk and have it bottled for them over there. Environmentally, a 20’ container can either carry 24,000 litres of bulk wine OR 10,584 litres of bottled wine giving the UK bottled wine a significantly smaller carbon footprint. Financially, apart from the reduction in freight costs to move the same amount of wine to the UK, the cost of glass is considerably cheaper (do to massive production volumes in Europe) than what it is in Australia. So shipping in bulk is a win/win situation.

Surprising, to me, is the volume of bulk American wine that the UK imports. One normally imagines US wine only as bottled wine and not as bulk wine. It is understandable that the $value per litre for the US wine is higher than ours given that US wines are overall priced higher than ours and also the high volumes self-shipped by Australian producers, which lowers the dollar per litre value as there isn’t a profit margin involved in these shipments i.e. internal transfers.

The “big mover” last year was Argentina showing massive percentage growth in both volumes and $value. This is part of a recovery that they are undergoing after difficult vintages and considerable internal and political issues.

The rise in UK purchases of bulk wine has cemented its position as the world leader in terms of the $value of bulk wine purchased and moves it into second spot in terms of volume, well behind Germany, but now in front of France. FRANCE – yep France! – Until recently were the second largest importer of bulk wine in the world, much of it coming by truck from Spain for their Supermarkets cheaper own label wines. A contentious issue in itself.

The UK wine market is in a state of chaos and confusion at present during the pandemic and while the ramifications of Brexit are coming into effect. However, early indications are that it may well present excellent opportunities for Australian wineries as things clear up.

So it is time to form a plan as to how we can rev up our wine sales to “Old Blighty”.

Link:  www.bulkwineclub.com

Have a great week, stay safe and South Australians don’t forget that the Adelaide Cellar Door Festival (see link below) is on at the Convention Centre in a week’s time. I will be there checking out some new wineries, new vintages, new varieties from over one hundred producers + boutique brewers and distilleries. GOTTA GO THERE!!

Cheers, Dan T. #chooseaustralianwine

Event Link:  www.cellardoorfestival.com

This Week's Wine Review:

This week it is about a wine that proves that the transformation of Angove Family Winemakers is complete. In the 1900s, Riverland based Angove were known for their magnificent St Agnes Brandy, commercial wines and wines in the cask (bag-in-box) that Tom Angove developed in the mid-1960s. They also owned and ran, Nanya, the single biggest vineyard in the southern hemisphere, in Renmark. So not exactly known as premium quality producers – other than their multi-award winning 5-Star, St Agnes Brandy.

Around the turn of the century they phased out their wine casks and in 2006 started the process of converting their vineyards to Organic and Biodynamic production.

In 2008, Angove acquired a 10 hectare old-vine vineyard in McLaren Vale and started the transition of the company and its image. They built a fabulous cellar door there and started producing excellent McLaren Vale wines.

So to the wine, the 2010 ANGOVE ‘THE MEDHYK’ McLAREN VALE OLD VINE SHIRAZ was the second release of this flagship wine. At 11-years-old the wine displays deep, dense colour, a subdued bouquet which needs plenty of time (at least a couple of hours) to open up and show the alluring melange of ripe berries, vanillin oak, a splash of dried herbs and a hint of chocolate. Superb! The palate just grows and grows in the glass developing over time into a magnificent, svelte Shiraz with a very smooth lingering finish, that is close to being sublime now and that I am sure will continue to evolve and delight over at least the next decade.

A truly magnificent, world-class Shiraz that is packed full of enjoyment.

Cheers and Enjoy! #chooseaustralianwine

Winery Link: www.angove.com.au