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Delhi Wine Club
Treasury looking for Treasure in the Unites States of India

Posted: Tuesday, 02 July 2013 11:04

Passing By: Treasury looking for Treasure in the Unites States of India

July 02: Returning to India in less than a year, Andrew O’Brian, General Manager for Asia of the Treasury Wine Estate, the biggest traded pure play wine company in the world with Brands like Lindeman’s, Rosemount and Penfolds in its portfolio, was in the country last week along with the regional business manager Yodissen Mootoosamy to showcase some of these wines at the Australian High Commission and meet a few customers

Click For Large ViewIt sounded pleasant when the witty Andrew made a reference to India as the United States of India at the welcoming address at the Australian High Commission where 13 wines had been in an array from the three wineries. Perhaps India is their next big destination after a slowdown in their biggest market, the United States of America. But perhaps he doesn’t need to know that we could well have considered naming ourselves USI in 1947. After all, India is a product of uniting hundreds of independent States and we are a democratic, Federal Republic on similar lines as the USA. But the States in India are generally united only at the time of a national emergency like a war, or cricket or in increasing excise duty on wines - even there they take independent decisions.

Andrew O’Brian says that though the company produced 80 brands with over 400 labels, the emphasis was on the higher quality wines. This, he said was possible because they had wineries spread all over Australia with each running independently.

He did admit at an exclusive lunch at La Piazza at the Hyatt Regency that the Lindeman’s Private Reserve had been earlier imported from Chile and South Africa 5-6 years ago as an experiment (the company had then announced that Lindeman’s was a Brand and the country of origin was not important). ‘Now we are continuing with Chilean wines in UK only and elsewhere they are definitely Australian. For a brief moment this brought back the memories about Chateau Indage indulging in import of bulk wine from Australia and marketing as their brand as the Indian wine.

An average Indian drinker may find it difficult to believe that Lindeman’s is the biggest exporter when he knows that Jacobs Creek is the biggest selling imported brand in India. ‘We are the biggest selling brand in many countries including Australia,’ said Andrew as he reeled off a list of countries where they were the leaders. He declined to comment but it is whispered in the trade that Pernod Ricard has the advantage of low transfer prices and the leverage due to liquors like Chivas Regal. But he did agree with delWine that the entry level Lindeman’s Premier Selection may be considered the Jacobs Creek of Treasury wines. As Rohit Mehra, owner of Mohan Bros., importer of the three labels said, it has been priced at under Rs.1000 in Delhi and Gurgaon- similar to Jacob's Creek.

Andrew also said that Lindeman’s was a Branded wine (read cheap and cheerful) that was fun and not serious and should only be drunk and not discussed. The new ad campaign of Lindeman’s has in fact, taken a page out of Champagne’s book that exhorts people to celebrate life daily with a glass of champagne with a tagline of its own, ‘Here’s to Life!’ Presumably, they have not been censured yet by the Champagne body, Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) .

Bin’s been confusing

Click For Large ViewPresenting a wide range of wines from their top-ended Penfolds like Koonunga Hills Shiraz, Bin 389 and Bin 407 and the more affordable Rosemount Shiraz, he said the company had a mania for quality and this showed not only in these wines tasted at the High Commission but also in the top quality (and most expensive and collectible) wine in Australia, Grange, the 2008 vintage of which was awarded 100 points by Robert Parker, the first time after 30 years for an Australian wine. There was another feather in the cap as it won 100 from Wine Spectator as well a couple of weeks ago.

But what does the Bin and Private Bin signify I ask curiously. Does a higher Bin number mean better quality wines? He laughs and says, ‘many people believe so. There is no connection or significance of the bin number. The numbers are just what the winemaker puts with a chalk on a lot and now perhaps through computers but the objective is only to number a set of wine bottles stored in some corner, before labeling, packing and shipping.’ He tells in a lighter vein that once a winemaker joining from Qantas in 1962 insisted on naming a batch as Bin 707. The Bin system has been popular in Australia and is perhaps their way of confusing us all. Incidentally, Grange is actually a Bin 95. If it is not confusing enough, consider this: It was Bin 1 in 1951 but became Bin 4 in 1952 and 95 in 1964 with no change since.

For the technically oriented, Bin stands for Batch Identification Number!

Penfolds Grange-Pinnacle of Quality

Click For Large ViewLindeman’s may be the volume led brand for the Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) on one end of the spectrum but The 2 billion dollar company also owns the most coveted wine of Australia in its portfolio - Grange - on the other extreme and in between popular brands like Wolf Blass (imported by Pearls), Greg Norman Estates, Chateau St. Jean, Stags Leap Winery and Beringer (imported by Aspri) from the USA and Castello di Gabbiano in the Chianti Classico area in Tuscany.

How can a company with 80 brands and over 400 labels maintain quality and produce wines of different levels of quality and quanity-32 million cases a year! ‘We are maniacs for quality. To give you an idea, 60% of grapes used for Grange are our own-the rest come from growers on long term contract,  some of whose families are working with our estate for over 100 years. We tell them to work downwards in terms of quality for Grange and cascade down-meaning they must strive to grow grapes good enough for Grange. The grapes that don’t make if for Grange are used in other top wines like the Bin 389 or Bin 407-we have 9 wines in Penfolds that are Bin wines. When the grapes end up in Grange, the growers not only get more money and a Magnum as a mark of recognition, they are invited as members of the highly prestigious Penfolds Grange Growers Club for 2 years. There are about 20 growers working on the project and up to 4 end up joining this club every year,’ says Andrew.

There are similar clubs like The Penfolds Premium Shiraz Growers Club and Penfolds Yattarna Growers Club as the ultimate rewards for growers achieving the most exquisite fruit quality. If used in India, this concept could perhaps start a grape quality revolution.

What is Treasury

Click For Large ViewMost people in India would be unfamiliar with Treasury Wine Estate though their brands selling in India are fairly well known. That’s because TWE is a new corporation carved out a couple of years ago from the parent company Foster’s which was well known in India because of introducing the beer. Foster’s was demerged and the beer division sold off to SAB Miller in 2011. Treasury Wine Estates was the wine division of Fosters. Incidentally, in 2005, Foster's Group acquired the Australian wine-making group Southcorp which had the three famous brands, Lindeman’s, Rosemount and Penfolds which are being imported by Mohan Bros. and were the protagonists that evening.

The current sale of 13,000 cases from Australia might not be satisfactory for the mega conglomerate. With Mootoosamy descending into India every 2 months and Pernod Ricard selling 35,000- 40,000 cases in 2012-13, Treasury can smell the treasure in the exciting and difficult Indian market offering plenty of opportunities and would certainly like to get a higher share.

Subhash Arora

Tags: Andrew O’Brian, Treasury Wine Estate, Lindeman’s, Jacobs Creek, Penfolds, Koonunga Hills Shiraz, Rosemount Shiraz, Grange, TWE, Australia, Pernod Ricard



Mootoosamy, Yodissen Says:

Fantastic news out of London overnight with Wolf Blass taking out the esteemed ‘International Red Winemaker of the Year’ award at the International Wine Challenge. The IWC is recognised as the world’s finest, most meticulously judged and most influential wine competition in the world. The awards won across the entire Wolf Blass range is particularly pleasing as it further enhances the strength of our wine quality and consistency across varying styles and price points. This is the second time that Wolf Blass has received this award, the first in 2008. Thanks and best regards, Yodi Mootoosamy

Posted @ June 19, 2013 14:44


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