Stars and gripes
Unwittingly I have set off an exchange of views on what is, or is not, a good representation of Australian wines on American wine lists. It started when by chance I came across the wine list of 21 Club, 21 West 52nd Street, New York.
Curiosity took me to the Australian section of the wine list. I was disappointed to see a swath of big, full-on Barossa shirazes, some of which I would spread on toast rather than drink with a meal. I registered my disappointment, as I know Australia has more to offer.
Chuck Hayward is based in San Francisco and recognised as a leading authority on Australian wine. He took me to task, saying 21 had one of the better Australian selections to be found in the US. His response, mine, and one from Sergio Carlei (Carlei Wines) can be read in full here.
Meanwhile, here is a sample of Carlei’s reply to Hayward:
“Firstly Chuck, after those comments, I thought I would get you going… so if this is a good list, can you please send me a list of bad ones?
“Chuck, the wines on the list have a good reputation no doubt as Tony was pointing out but they are big fat sweet fruit-driven wines all from virtually one place, your favourite place. The list could be regarded as boring indeed because they don’t really explore great Australian shiraz. Sorry mate but it is a one-dimensional portfolio of Australian wines targeting the uneducated American palate that does not really know better but they are familiar with the name. That is an easy sell…”
It’s worth a read.
TKR congratulations to the team behind the Wolf Blass brand, which was awarded Red Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge ceremony in London. Picking up the silver/glassware on behalf of the brand was chief winemaker Chris Hatcher. Australia did very well, as it always does in this competition, so our congratulations are extended to all.
The latest export report to the end of June is out, it only arrived this morning (14 July) too late for TKR to report on it in detail but include the first two paragraphs from the Wine Australia report.
“In the twelve months to June 2016, the value of Australian wine exports grew by 11 per cent to $2.11 billion and volume increased by 0.5 per cent to 728 million litres. The average value of exports grew by 11 per cent to $2.89 per litre, the highest level since February 2010.
The growth in value was driven by bottled exports, most notably at higher price points. Almost half the value growth was in wines above $10 per litre. This reflects the increasing demand for premium Australian wines in most regions around the world, particularly Northeast Asia.”
Back in December I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Raye, president of Bevologyinc in New York. He’s a smart man and speaks a lot of sense. His business is helping brands get established in the US. I’ve been told his experience, knowledge and contacts within the American sector do not come cheap, but he is very good at the role he undertakes.
The reason for his inclusion in this TKR is an email I received this week in which Raye said:
“Overwhelmed with unsolicited inquiries from brands who just want a ‘moment of your time’?
“The challenge everyone faces… importers, distributors, sales organisations, brokers and consultants… is how to respond to the flood of requests in a nice way. You don’t want to get sucked into the vortex of wasted time and energy. On the other hand, you don’t want get a reputation as being rude or dismissive.
“We hear you, and have a solution: pass them along to us.”
It was an email to all in Raye’s contact book and it is Raye plugging his services. The point of including it here is not to benefit Raye’s finances but to urge any Australian wine company thinking about the US to at least pay a visit to the Bevologyinc website. You will find it worth reading.
The longest day has passed, so it’s all cruising now. Have a good week, drink great wine and love the ones you love a little more.