Fine Australian wine excites in Seoul & Tokyo

06 Oct 2016
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Fine Australian wine has continued to captivate influential wine professionals in South Korea and Japan at the annual Australian Wine Grand Tasting, co-hosted in collaboration with our partner Austrade in Seoul and Tokyo on 6 and 8 September. 

This year, a record 890 guests across the 2 cities tasted fine Australian wines from more than 34 regions and met some of our talented winemakers and discovered lesser-known varieties and styles. Guests at this year’s Australian Wine Grand Tasting in Seoul and Tokyo expressed a growing appreciation for fine Australian wine. 

July Restaurant Sommelier Ha Nui Park said ‘It was great to experience the diversity of grape varieties, rationality and styles in Australia through the Seoul Grand Tasting. I think this kind of event is exactly what we need in order to understand the potential of Australian wine in the Korean wine market.’ 

Arcana Tokyo General Manager Makoto Tominaga said ‘I always attend the Grand Tasting, it’s an opportunity to learn of changes in Australia’s key varieties. My image of Australian wine changes year after year, and I’m also seeing that more people are trading Australian fine wine.’ 

The Australian wineries that participated said the events are an important part of supporting export success. 

Jackson Family Wines General Manager North Asia, Pacific and Australia Tom Kriegshauser said ‘It was very exciting to see Japanese and Korean trade customers, media and importers interested in trying and learning about new grape varieties and wine styles, and to be asked about McLaren Vale, old vines and single vineyards. In both Tokyo and Seoul, the events were conducted professionally, and the attendees’ comments were very positive.’ 

Presenting the history and R&D behind Australian Shiraz 

This year, the Australian Wine Grand Tasting featured seminars dedicated to exploring what makes Australian Shiraz unique. 

Denis Gastin OAM presented the history of Australian Shiraz, exploring old vines that have survived in the absence of phylloxera and also wines that showcase climate and soil contrasts and styles from classic Shiraz regions, such as the Barossa and McLaren Vale. 

‘Shiraz is the variety that, historically, has been the core of the Australian wine industry’s identity in global markets. But what is not widely appreciated is the diversity in Shiraz styles made across Australia, a continent with a vast range of climate and soil conditions. This is what we wanted to communicate to discerning wine lovers in both markets’, said Mr Gastin. 

Australian Wine Research Institute Group Manager Con Simos, discussed what it is that gives Australian Shiraz a spicy, black or white pepper aroma – the compound rotundone. Mr Simos also hosted an aroma bar, which provided guests with another way to explore the nuances of our fine wines. 

‘The aim is to demystify the science behind winemaking to support an engaging Australian wine story for our international markets. Guests at the Australian Wine Grand Tasting were keen to learn more about Australian wines and they fully embraced the educational experiences. It was encouraging to see optimism and confidence in Australian wine; the guests embraced this and wanted to know more’, Mr Simos said. 

The Australian Wine Research Institute is one of Wine Australia’s wine sector partners helping to support the promotion of Australian wine in key international markets. 

Wine Australia and Austrade for Australian wine 

Wine Australia Head of Market, Asia Pacific Hiro Tejima said, ‘In collaboration with our partner Austrade, the Australian Wine Grand Tastings across these two key Northeast Asian markets are our flagship Australian wine events for the Japanese and South Korean wine community. The sentiments from guests who attended the tastings reflect a growing appreciation for fine Australian wine in both markets.’ 

Amanda Hodges, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Austrade Korea said, ‘This is the third year we have collaborated with Wine Australia to host this event, which is the biggest tasting of Australian wine in South Korea. Koreans continue to appreciate Australian Shiraz, the most exported Australian wine variety, however, there’s also increasing demand for Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot.’ 

Julianne Merriman, Trade Commissioner, Austrade Japan and leader of Austrade’s Food, Beverage and Agribusiness team across Japan said ‘It’s impressive to have such a strong turnout of premium Australian wine brands on display in Japan and to see the positive and growing interest by astute and sophisticated Japanese wine industry decision makers in the Australian wine category. 

‘The combination of the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement tariff reduction benefits, a favourable exchange rate and the increased openness and curiosity of Japanese consumers to discover and embrace new wines from around the world is highly advantageous to Australian wine exporters. Australian wines are well positioned in this savvy consumer market and key events like the Australian Grand Wine Tasting have a significant positive impact on market perceptions.’

In 2015–16, Australian wine exports to South Korea increased by 29 per cent and exports to Japan increased by 4 per cent. The Australian wine sector has access to reduced tariff rates through the Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement and the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. Wine Australia provides Export Market Guides for Japan and South Korea, which can be downloaded free for Australian grape and wine levy payers, and also for licenced wine exporters. 

For more information about the South Korean and Japanese wine markets, read our blog post Australian wine blossoms in Japan and South Korea.


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