Feudo Arancio winery

According to Statista data, Italy is the third most valuable country of origin in the Australian imported wine market, bringing a lot for local consumers to enjoy.

It’s a country with intriguing regions and styles, and many traditional native Italian varietals have been embraced by the Australian lifestyle, especially as the demand for more ‘alternative’ wines increases.

Australia is a key market for many Italian wine brands, despite our relatively small population in comparison to some other wine importing nations.

One of Mezzacorona Group’s winemakers, Maurizio Maurizi, sat down with National Liquor News to discuss this importance, while in the country to tour our market. Maurizi is the manager of the group’s Sicilian operations and Head Winemaker for the Feudo Arancio label, which features interesting local varietals such as Nero D’Avola, Grillo and Inzolia.

For native Italian varietals overall, Maurizi believes the average Australian consumer is learning more and more how to embrace them. However, Sicilian and other southern Italian regions are especially increasing in popularity.

“The idea of Italian wine is that it is approachable and something you could drink every day, with a good price for the quality it has,” he said.

“Compared to wines from the north [of Italy], wines from the south are less expensive. And we’ve seen that the market for Sicilian wines and all southern Italian wines is growing every year.”

White wines seem to be seeing particular growth from these areas in international markets, especially in unexpected indigenous Sicilian varietals. Maurizi gives the example of Grillo, which the company first started to export to the US in 2003 with great difficulty. Now, the varietal is performing really well, catching up with more widely known varietals such as Nero D’Avola.

According to Maurizi, key to the growing interest in Sicilian varietals like this has been the region’s investment into its image.

“As a consortium and as a DOC, Sicilia is investing all together now in the trust behind our wines… The idea of Sicilian wine is growing in a good way,” Maurizi said.

“When I was starting out in the 2001 season, the idea of Sicilian wine was that it was used to blend in wines from north Italy or other European regions – Sicily was a producer of bad wine. Whites were oxidated and reds were too strong. But slowly, slowly, we started to show the market we could do something better.

“Reds were not as strong, they could be easy drinking, medium bodied and approachable. Whites could be different from the northern whites because they have colder air. But Sicilian whites could be fresh and crispy, with a bigger body.

“So now, when we go to a new market, we go with Sicilian wine first, because it is more famous and people are more ready to receive it.”

While whites are seeing good growth, Maurizi noted reds are still garnering interest in markets outside the US and Europe. Sicily is again making an impact here.

“I’ve been to many markets that were so full of Passito, Passo and Primitivo style wines. They were good 10 years ago, but I think now people are finding they have a bit too much of a sweetness or they are getting bored of that style… so the consumer is now starting to explore reds from the south of Italy,” Maurizi said.

Single Vineyard Sellers (SVS) is a distributor of many international regions in Australia, and has seen this Sicilian interest grow amongst local consumers with the Feudo Arancio range. Marketing Manager, Justine Teal, said the key to this growth is highlighting the approachability of the region that Maurizi mentioned.

“For consumers who might not be familiar with Sicily, I think it’s really important to have that general education about Italian wines, so that they pick up a wine from Sicily they might not have tried before… they find out it’s something that you can drink any day,” Teal said.

Like with any drinks category on the market today, sustainability is another key factor of influence on consumer choices. Sicily and its producers keep this in mind, for example, with Feudo Arancio using ‘green’ practices throughout each wine’s production and hopefully set to release its organic range here shortly. Through the basic range though, sustainability is still at the core, with the label the first Italian winery to receive the ECO Management and Audit Scheme certification for the entire productive chain.

With a lot of activity and interest in the Sicilian region, it is certainly one for the Australian market to watch.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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