There is a growing trend among Australian consumers, which is seeing a rise in popularity of more delicate wines and this is great news for producers in the cool climate regions.
Regions like Orange, Tumbarumba, Hilltops and Canberra are producing increasingly popular wines – they are also producing wines of increased quality and there can be no doubt that the two are inextricably linked.
In addition to this, consumers are definitely becoming more curious and at the same time more knowledgeable about wines, wine styles and wine regions. As some of the rules around what wines have to be drunk with what foods are being broken, the transition to more elegant wines is becoming more and more prevalent.
With cool climate wines fitting this ‘elegant and food friendly’ brief, the signs of them being the hot trend are very promising; they are taken to the next level when you consider some of the other key industry trends – in particular premiumisation.
Premiumisation is not just about a charge to high-end and expensive products, it is also about consumers being much more mindful, inquisitive and understanding of exactly what they want to drink. They think more about elegant wines and about wines for specific occasions. The premium trend is also being seen in the food industry at the moment, and as consumers are eating better food, they want to be sure that they are able to enjoy top quality wines with that food and that’s where cool climate wines are making huge in-roads.
For one winery in particular, McWilliam’s, the growth of cool climate wines is something that they have been a big part of. The winery has also gained traction in the growth of consumer knowledge, with the consumer wine experience of New South Wales wines in particular evolving further from just thinking that the only regions that are worth buying from are the Hunter Valley, Mudgee and Orange.
ELEGANT AND FOOD FRIENDLY
And, as Amy Hayes from McWilliam’s explains, a big factor is that increased consumer knowledge and understanding.
“This evolution has a lot to do with where consumers are at, from an exploratory point of view, there are more and more people who are experiencing, through global travel and so on, what a cool climate wine can offer and are now seeking expressions of these wines out locally.
“When they find the NSW cool climate wines particularly our McW 480 and 660 Reserve ranges they are pleasantly surprised by the style that the NSW cool climate regions can offer – medium bodied, elegant and food friendly – these wines show the best of what a cool climate wine can deliver.”
Chief Winemaker, Jim Chatto, agrees, saying: “The McW 480 and 660 Reserve ranges personify everything we love about cool climate wine. Pure and elegant, yet intense wines; with great natural balance making them perfect for so many occasions and a wonderful introduction to the character and quality that come from these exciting regions.”
Harvested from vines grown at an average of 480 metres above sea level the McW 480 range includes the Tumbarumba Sauvignon Blanc, Hilltops Shiraz and Tumbarumba Pinot Grigio.
The McW 660 range is described as being a “true expression of the rich diversity and sophistication of high altitude wines, encapsulating modern Australian styles with a medium body”. The range includes the Tumbarumba Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz and a Canberra Syrah.
In terms of which wines are proving particularly popular since the ranges were launched last year, Hayes says: “Two wines that have become consummate favourites with both customers and the trade have been our 660 Reserve Chardonnay and 480 Pinot Grigio.
“The Chardonnay from Tumbarumba has the most pristine citrus fruit flavours enveloped with the technical precision of winemaker intervention to offer a wine that is both refreshing yet undeniably moreish. The high altitude offers a slower ripening period for the fruit which makes so much difference in the end flavour profile and ultimately what our winemakers can do with the wines to evolve them. The end result is a wine that still has all the classic attributes of a Chardonnay that people enjoy with a distinct elegance that is very appealing.
“Our 480 Pinot Grigio is also from Tumbarumba and has offered a really lovely step for consumers into aromatics. Again, it has a lot to do with the high altitude of where the fruit is grown offering a slower ripening period and the chance for some of the beautiful characteristics of pear, citrus and subtle spice to shine through.”
The cooler climate also helps to give wines the vibrant acid line that makes it ideal for food pairing and another aspect that also makes the wines very appealing for consumers is that refreshment factor the cooler climate gives. So as consumers become more knowledgeable and understand there are new and exciting regions to be explored that are offering elegant, enjoyable and food friendly wines, then now is the time to make sure you are part of this hot trend of cooler climate wines.