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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, September 25 2009. 09:59

Austrian Wine Exports Steady in 2009

Despite a drop in both the value and volume in the US, Austrian wine exports have managed to hold an overall steady ground due to a corresponding increase in their traditionally strong German and Swiss markets and a big promotional drive which is also being extended to the Indian market.

Despite the difficult global economic conditions, the record level of export earnings achieved in the previous year remained practically unchanged (-1.8%) during the first half of 2009 while the export volume increased by 10%.

"We were anticipating this development because of the big harvest in 2008," says Willi Klinger, Managing Director of Austrian Wine Marketing Board. "Also, the trend towards favourably priced wines during the economic crisis had been predicted."

Austrian wine exports to its biggest export market, Germany remained extremely important. Although bottled wine underwent a slight drop in volume (-4.5%), there was a rise in actual value (+1.15 %).

Austrian wine has been increasingly successful in German supermarkets and discount stores, especially in the price categories between € 3 and € 6. With bulk wine exports, there was a 30% increase in volume, yet a 3% drop in profit was recorded. This is attributed to the difficult situation in the international bulk wine market, the impact of which has been felt in the domestic market as well.

There was an overall 9% rise in volume but only a small increase in value (+0.5%) in the export business with Germany.

For Switzerland, the second main export market, the volume of bottled wine increased by 17.7%, and bulk wine volume rose by 43 %. Bottled wine earnings declined by 3%, while bulk wine earnings, on the other hand increased by nearly 8%.

"In Switzerland, we've been recording high growth rates for several years now," Klinger explained. "And we're currently reaching a broader customer segment through more favourably priced wines. The average price of more than € 4 per liter is extremely positive."

The economic crisis in the US had a negative impact on the Austrian wine exports. There were drops of 9% in volume and 18% in value during the first half. Also contributing to this decline were the changes in the US import structure. Fortunately for the Austrian wines, the US export scenario is improving again.

An ad on the back page of a popular US magazine for the August issue focussing on the pale gold wine in a glass in front of a sushi roll ,with the well-known wine journalist of Singapore, Ch'ng Poh Tiong saying, "Young grüner veltliners are vivacious aperitifs, and a can't-put-down food match with tempura, dim sum, pakora and sushi," gives the message across that their white wine is a great match with the Asian cuisine.

"For the overall Austrian wine industry, the export figures are very positive, considering the economic climate," states Klinger. "Perhaps by the end of this year, we even may reach again the level of record export earnings set in the previous year. In any case, there should be a significant rise in export volume this year."

Austrian Wines in India

Not only is their signature white wine delicious with pakoras as Poh Tiong says, it is great match for samosas, dosas and similar finger foods like fish tikkas or even serious Indian vegetarian food and curries because it is fruity, aromatic and leaves a very pleasant mouthfeel with the touch of vivacious acidity that cuts through the fat. Riesling is another fine grape variety which comes at various price points some of which dare to compare with the best of German cousins. Zweigelt is the popular indigenous red grape varietal which is unique and palatable to Indian taste and not too tannic for the vegetarians either.

Austrian wines are also authentic, artisanal, family-produced, individualistic styled and natural as compared to many other countries, especially the new world where they  tend to be commercial, industrialized, big-corporate run, uniform styled (‘coca-colaised’) and technical. There are about 9,000 bottling wineries, mostly family owned, compared to about 2,200 in Australia, according to Willi Klinger.

Austrian wine exports to India have been negligible so far. However, the AWMB has decided to give it a strong push in the Indian market now. Christian Dworan, the marketing manager looking after the Asian markets including India is very bullish about  India and says, ‘we have decided to take part in the Taste Expo being held in Mumbai in January-end 2010. We know that if the on-trade gets the whiff and flavour of our wines they would like to have them in their wine lists-and they go so well with the yummy Indian food.’

With many of our top chefs and the senior hoteliers having studied in Austria, known to have some of the best catering colleges in the world, the job might be slightly easier for Christian and his countrymen wishing to get on the Indian wine bandwagon.

The Austrian wine campaign in the US aims to attract wine lovers with food match, through a 12-page pamphlet offering detailed matches between Austrian wines and some of the most popular Asian dishes. One hopes that AWMB comes to India with a similar pamphlet to win the palates of the Indian wine lovers who will take time to roll out the name ‘Grüner Veltliner’ with some difficulty initially.

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For some of our earlier articles about Austrian wines, click


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