Australian Vintage tools up for assault on lower alcohol wine market

04 October, 2012

Australian Vintage is installing and commissioning a spinning cone column with a view to introducing a new generation of lower alcohol wines next year.

Neil McGuigan general manager production and wine supply told Drinks International today (October 4) that the equipment is being installed and trials will begin in December.

The popularity of 5.5% abv wines is growing, particularly in the US and while McGuigan has noted the trend he has not been impressed with the quality of some of the current offerings.  Last January the company introduced Vinni, a 5.5% abv carbonated Moscato wine, packaged in a small bottle to appeal to 18 to 25-year-olds who might otherwise drink cider or beer.

McGuigan told DI: “The wine must be the hero. The new spinning cone column will strip out the alcohol at a low 40 degrees Celsius rather than 60 degrees (with the older technology). It will mean we will get fresher, more aromatic, more fruit-driven wines.”

McGuigan is confident that they will have a white wine ready next year but admits getting the red offering right, is more challenging. He is adamant that the wine has to be right before they introduce it.

With many of the pioneers of the Australian wine industry either elderly, dead or retired, McGuigan has called for the next generation to get out there and start talking about Australian wine and educating them in order to trade them up to more premium styles.

McGuigan’s older brother Brian is now 70 but still an active director of Australian Vintage. He along with the likes of Len Evans, Peter Lehmann, Wolf Blass, Murray Tyrrell, Brian Croser, James Halliday and  Bill Hardy, created and championed the modern Australian wine industry.

McGuigan cites the likes of Chester Osborn at d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale as the next generation of high profile Australian winemakers who will – must -carry the flag for Australian wine.

The Australian wine trade has been through a tough period with a succession of takeovers and mergers that have consolidated the industry. Over optimism led to overplanting and grape surpluses. The situation has been compounded and exacerbated by a strong Australian dollar which has driven up costs while putting Australian wines at a price disadvantage.

McGuigan, who is the International Wine Challenge’s (IWC) White Winemaker of the Year, believes that Australian Vintage is well placed to put Australian wines back on the map. AV is a merger of Simeon which was essentially a bulk wine business and Brian McGuigan Wines which was a branded wine specialist. The company picked up Miranda Wines and Nepenthe along the way and McGuigan believes AV is in the right place to move Australian wine forward.

The new lower alcohol wines represent the new generation of offerings designed to make sure younger consumers start drinking wine.

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