New life, venerable region
TKR thinks it’s good news that Alejandro Pedro Bulgheroni has invested in the Barossa Valley. Good news in many different ways beyond simple wine investment. It’s breathing new life into a venerable region. The main point being: this is not, as has occurred in the past, a rush to establish vineyards without thought and capitalise on the Barossa name while dragging down the quality of Barossa wine.
This venture also shows there is respect for what the Barossa has to offer: its traditions, and the style and range of wine it produces. The constant search for new and different, whether single site vineyards or winemaking techniques, often takes the focus away from regions long established.
When the Hess family acquired the majority of Peter Lehmann, TKR thought it a great move for the Lehmann brand. How Hess made such a cock-up of the brand remains a mystery.
Bulgheroni bought the 40-hectare (12 hectares planted) Greenock Farm last October for a reported $1.95 million. He has teamed with Italian wine consultant Alberto Antonini. One report said the pair spent three years exploring Australian wine regions before settling on the Barossa Valley.
Bulgheroni and his brother Carlos rank 324th on the Forbes global billionaires list, and number one in Argentina.
Their wealth was initially made through ownership of Argentina’s largest private energy company, Bridas Corporation, founded by their father in 1948. They sold half the company in 2010 to China’s state overseas oil company, CNOOC, for US$3.1 billion.
Alejandro Bulgheroni’s wine holdings are impressive and have grown rapidly since then:
Patagonia: Under development, yet to be named.
Bordeaux: Château Suau
California: Renwood Winery
Uruguay: Bodega Garzón
According to an article in The Advertiser the plan is to plant a further 18 hectares: a mix of shiraz, grenache, mataro and semillon. A winery will be added, as will cellar door and accommodation. The article included this quote from Antonini:
“The Barossa has great terroir and has built a great reputation, but what I taste now is not what we think the Barossa is capable of delivering. We will focus on the origin of the grapes, the unique place, not the variety. Varieties are generic, but places like the Barossa are unique.”
Tourism plays an important role in Bulgheroni’s wine holdings. It will be interesting to see what happens at Greenock Farm in that aspect as well as in the wines released.
Trends and insights
The Enhanced Media Metrics Australia (Emma) Alcoholic Beverages Trends and Insights Report was released this month. It’s a good report in its scope of respondents. Conducted March 2015 to February 2016, it sampled 66,456 people aged 18-plus.
The report has four consumer segments representing the 35 per cent of Australia’s adult population who are most likely to drink any alcohol more than once a week. The four segments are defined as:
Educated Ambition: 7.8 per cent of the population 18-plus are 44 per cent more likely than the population average to drink more than once a week. They are the highest earners and most educated of all segments. Success and career achievement are these consumers’ top priorities. Mostly urban and without children living at home, this segment skews strongly towards go-getting mid-life women. Frequently socialising outside the home, they are very likely to go to the theatre or an art exhibition and to dine at licensed restaurants. They also go to the cinema and eat out at cafes more often than the population average. They are relatively big drinkers of white wine and sparkling wine and significantly more likely to drink gin than other people.
Social Creatives: 5.4 per cent of the population 18-plus are 11 per cent more likely than the population average to drink more than once a week. Australia’s young, highly educated and affluent urbanites comprise this category, which is heavily skewed towards young males who place upmost importance on success and lifestyle. These achievers are hyper-engaged with technology and social media. Socialising outside the home and engaging in arts/culture are priorities for this group, who are much more likely than the population average to eat out at licensed restaurants, cafes and pubs. Social Creatives are more likely to consume tequila than any other social segment.
Serene Seclusion: 10.6 per cent of the population 18-plus are 9 per cent more likely than the population average to drink more than once a week. This group typically includes people at or near retirement living ‘away from it all’ in regional and rural Australia. They most probably own their home outright and have lower engagement with new technology than the population average. Health and wellbeing – both for themselves personally and in general – are priorities. Introverted and conservative, they are generally content with life. Brandy and cognac index highly for this segment.
Conscientious Consumption: 11.4 per cent of the population 18-plus are 9 per cent more likely than the population average to drink more than once a week. These middle/upper middle class families are parented by highly educated, big earners who are strongly engaged with technology (particularly smartphones and tablets) and social media. They do not, however, place great importance on social status and consumption and are fiscally conservative. They are also very home and health-focused and above average readers of food and entertaining magazines. Cider ranks higher with this segment than any other group, reflecting a ‘craft’ orientation in their food and beverage choices.
Not surprisingly the report shows alcohol is a fundamental part of Australian life, with 71 per cent of adult women and 82 per cent of adult men saying they’ve consumed an alcoholic beverage in the previous four weeks before the survey.
The good news and news that the health lobby should take note of is a trend towards drinking “less but better”. This has caused per capita consumption to fall, with total volume down 0.6 per cent in 2015. The less but better trend also means more money is being spent on alcohol: up 1.5 per cent in 2015.
Wine continues its upward trend, though men up to age 65 still opt for beer. Cider and spirits are behind wine and beer along with pre-mixed drinks.
Preferences also vary by consumer group.
Also changing are the occasions and places where alcohol is consumed:
Youngsters drink at clubs and bars but as one passes 30 or thereabouts, and partners, kids and mortgages start to play a part in life and drain on finances, home consumption takes precedence. As careers advance and incomes increase, there’s more dining out, and drinking in restaurants and cafés rises. Over 60s often enjoy wine or beer at the RSL or bowlo.