By James Atkinson
France's number one supplier of Alsace wines to Australia has attributed its success to sage advice from Dan Murphy's buyers to make the switch to screwcap.
Family-owned winery Dopff Au Moulin of Riquewihr in Alsace has supplied wine to Dan Murphy's since the 1950s under a deal first brokered with Dan Murphy himself.
But it wasn't until 2007, following a meeting at Vinexpo with Woolworths, that Dopff's Australian sales really took off, Etienne-Arnaud Dopff said in Alsace this week.
"They told us that 'if you put this under screwcap, we will double your sales'," he said. [continues below]
Dopff Au Moulin export manager Philippe Durst (pictured above) said that at that time, the company was sending two containers a year of still wine and Cremant d'Alsace sparkling to Australia.
"I think last year we were up to fourteen containers of sparkling and still wine," he said.
"It's all linked to the fact that we accepted to play the screwcap. We've moved on to using it on the Grand Cru as well," he said.
"The Dan Murphy's guys told us, 'we don't want cork. When the customers come into our store, they don't trust cork anymore.'" [continues below]
Durst admitted the move to screwcap on some of Dopff's export wines would have been frowned upon by senior family members, who were initially kept in the dark about the secret of the company's sudden sales success in Australia.
More than 80 per cent of French consumers prefer cork and Durst believes it will take a generation or more for this attitude to be overcome in that market.
Aside from screwcap, Etienne-Arnaud Dopff believes the company's success in Australia is also down to competitive pricing. [continues below]
L-R: Etienne-Arnaud Dopff and Philippe Stark
Its wines sent to Australia include the exceptional Cuvee Julien Cremant d'Alsace sparkling, retailing at under $20, and an acclaimed Grand Cru Riesling, retailing at under $30.
The company also makes regular visits to Australia to teach Dan Murphy's wine specialists about Alsace wine.
Durst said Dan Murphy's is a very professional retailer with "high expectations of suppliers".
"It's incredible to think that such a distant market has become so important to us," he said.