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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, March 11 2010. 13:54

Aussies Drink More Italian than French Wines

Australians may drink Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand like mother’s milk but when it comes to European wines, France seems to be losing out to Italy, despite their love for Champagne which rules as the top celebratory drink and holds the torch for the country, according to recent statistics.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that Italian wines normally sell more than French wines by volume except during the December quarter, when demand for champagne to toast the holiday season more than doubles the sales of French wines.

Even with the champagne factor, France sold only 6.23 million litres of wine in Australia last year, compared with 6.56 million litres from Italy. Australia's biggest source of wine imports is New Zealand, which sold 42.55 million litres last year; most of it Sauvignon Blanc. A recent article in delWine had reported that the younger 30+ Aussies, especially women are increasingly getting enamoured by the Marlborough Whites (hopefully, not Marlborough Lights! -editor)

Antonio Zaccheo, a winemaker from Tuscany reportedly comments that the sales of Italian wines in Australia were once limited to Italian restaurants and people of Italian origin. But as their tastes matured, more mainstream drinkers are seeking new flavours, a trend noticeable in India as well.

"Australians are curious to taste the classic regions of the world. It's not unusual for them to want a Chianti, Champagne, or even a Riesling from Germany," he said. "In the past few years we've gone from selling a couple of pallets in Australia to four or five containers a year. Our growth has been remarkable."

Interestingly, French wine sell for higher prices; an average of $19.13 per litre last year compared with $6.64 for Italian wine, indicating that the higher quality French wines are being consumed. There is the added factor of Champagne which costs more than the average price. But the gap is narrowing, with Italian prices rising by 15 per cent over the past four years compared with just 5 per cent for French wine. This could also be indicative of consumers willing to trade up as their taste buds look for more exciting Italian wines.

Maurizio Ugge, managing director for wine, with an F & B importer Arquilla, attributes the growth in consumption to improvements in the quality of Italian wine over the past decade as well as the recent strength of the Australian dollar, which has made premium imported wines more affordable, according to the report in the “There's a lot more general interest in Italian varietals now," he said.


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