Wednesday, February 9, 2011

AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND: Quality Innovations Down Under

A current article here asked us to think inside the box, the wine box that is. Innovations in traditional wine packaging may have been born in the mid-1960's in South Australia's bulk wine Riverland region, where it is said that wine in a box was first created. In the decades since, eco-friendly Bota Box and Tetra Pak containers in various sizes have followed and have spread across the widely accepting wine consuming world.

By most accounts, screwcaps as wine closures grew out of the State of South Australia's Clare Valley in 2000 for its vibrant Riesling wines. Subsequently, Australia's Wine Research Institute proved screwcaps to be a superior wine seal. Global wine producers in the years that followed have adopted screwcap closures in dramatic fashion, touting its advantages of eradicating cork taint, offering convenience and 'consistency' in a wines qualities.

A thousand miles to the east, the New Zealand Screwcap Wine Seal Initiative, now just barely 10 years old, currently enjoys the success achieved by 90% of all NZ wines using this innovative closure. But that is not all.  Born in the mid-90's, the New Zealand Winegrowers recently announced that an impressive 94% of their members were following the nation's regulated principals of Sustainable Viticulture.  This revolution in farming is growing a commercial success too, as acreage has increased here more than three fold, and the average price earned per ton has grown for New Zealand viticulturalists by over 40% in the last decade.

Down Under, Australia's Wine Innovation Cluster, together with the University of Adelaine, and collaborative efforts with other wine industry members, continues to advance Sustainable Viticulture here too, while developing sound wine science and visionary global marketing. At the turn of the 21st century, Australia's wine industry launched Strategy 2025, aiming to be the worlds most influential and profitable wine industry by extending their global market-share.  Many of their goals have already been achieved.

New Zealand, too, has great global market impact with their benchmark Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs. After Chardonnay  and Pinot Noir,  Syrah is to now set become New Zealand's, "most important grape variety", according to giant Brancott Estates winemaker Patrick Materman, at the recent  NZ Annual Trade Tasting at Lord's, where 18 award winning Syrah's were on shown.From Northland on the North Island, to Central Otago on the South Island, New Zealand's ten (10)wine growing regions, which are scattered mostly on the eastern edges, continue to produce quality and value.  North to South, these superior efforts can be found in the following:
Auckland - 2007 Kumeu River Chardonnay
Hawks Bay - 2008 Sileni Estates Cellar Selection Pinot Noir
Martinborough - 2008 Stonecrop Pinot Noir
Martinborough - 2008 Escarpment Over the Edge Pinot Noir
Marlborough - 2009 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 
Central Otago -  2008 Gunn Estates Pinot Noir
Canterbury - 2008 Pegasus Bay Riesling Bel Canto

Across the 3000 mile southern arc of an old continent, 1200 miles to the west of New Zealand,  there are 60 Australia designated wine regions. Examples of their valued efforts are reflected in:
New South Wales - 2006 Tempus Two Pinot Gris
Mudgee - 2007 Robert Oatley Chardonnay
South East Australia 2007 Jacob's Creek Reserve Chardonnay
Margaret River - 2007 Art Series Riesling

And, not one of these bottled wines costs more than $20! With quality wine innovations continuing to be cultivated in Australia and New Zealand, consumers can only benefit by thinking inside the box. Cheers!

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