07/05/2009 - 00:00

Local market taking to new wine varieties

07/05/2009 - 00:00

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WESTERN Australian wineries are proving that "variety is the spice of life" as the industry attempts to deal with contracting markets, a falling dollar and increasing costs by introducing new varietals to help excite palates and enhance purchase

Local market taking to new wine varieties

WESTERN Australian wineries are proving that "variety is the spice of life" as the industry attempts to deal with contracting markets, a falling dollar and increasing costs by introducing new varietals to help excite palates and enhance purchases.

WA wineries have been introducing new plantings to attract the more sophisticated, modern-day wine drinker while tantilising the tastebuds of their regular clientele.

Constellation Wines Australia, which owns WA brands Houghton, Goundrey and Amberley Estate, is focused on offering new wines that are either new to the market or fresh to their consumers.

Constellation's senior vice president of technical and operations Peter Watson said introducing new varieties was important in the current climate as it offered a different flavour profile.

"As time passes wine consumers are becoming more sophisticated and they're looking for change and they're interested in new wine offerings," Mr Watson told WA Business News.

"Wine drinkers are ultimately gravitating towards flavour in wine, and white wine varietals like viognier and pinot gris do offer a depth of flavour and texture that wine drinkers enjoy."

3 Oceans Wine Company, a Chinese-backed company which acquired the assets of Palandri from administrators, runs a similar varietals program using tempranillo and pinot gris on about 20 of its 350 hectares in Margaret River.

3 Oceans general manager trading and marketing Andrew Blythe said exploring varieties is a real positive for his company.

"These are exciting varieties, not only stand alone but also in blends," he said.

"We're just really coming to understand Frankland River and its capabilities."

At the smaller end of the scale, Ashbrook Estate owner Tony Devitt also believes there's a place for some of the more well-known international varieties.

"I think it always helps in a marketing sense to put something on the market that people recognise, particularly people who know their wines," Mr Devitt said.

"They may not ever become big parts of the market but I still think variety is the spice of life."

Howard Park Wines owner and chief executive Jeff Burch believes that WA's varietals are impeded by excessive regulation.

"I think Western Australia is a little bit behind the eight ball [with new varieties] because with our quarantine it's quite a long process to get new varieties into the state and bulked up and then able to produce commercial quantities of wine," Mr Burch said.

"So that has made the WA wine industry a little bit harder to respond to fashionable varieties."

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