Kiwi 'sav' spikes Aussie savalanche
08 Mar 2010
Kiwi 'savs' are making a big impression across the ditch, according to wine sales figures from Australia.
And it seems that while their favourite TV characters Kath and Kim’s tipple of choice is chardonnay, many Aussies now prefer something a little more Kiwi - the sauvignon blanc.
Despite the recession, New Zealand wine sales in Australia have shot up by 42% this year, causing a veritable "savalanche" across the ditch.
Sauvignon blanc dominates white wine sales in Australia, with a strong 30% market share, overtaking the traditionally popular chardonnay.
Chris Yorke, New Zealand Winegrowers global marketing director, says that Australia is one of New Zealand’s largest export markets for wine - and that has increased dramatically over the past 10 years.
"Sauvignon blanc is by far the most popular export variety and what’s happening there is that a lot of good work has been done by tourism," Yorke said.
"It means that Australians see us as almost their cousins across the water. They like us, think our country’s quite special and our wine particularly matches the Aussie lifestyle."
Across the ditch affair
The average ‘sav’ drinker in Australia tends to be a younger professional, likely female and in the 23 - 35 age group, says Yorke, but the wine is also quickly gaining popularity with other wine lovers.
When Winegrowers recently ran tastings for New Zealand wine in Australia, tickets for the 500-seat Sydney event sold out in a record four hours.
Yorke says this shows a trend of Australians moving away from bigger, bolder wines toward lighter ones. Australian Prime Minister Paul Rudd, for example, is also a huge fan of sauvignon blanc.
"Sav is a fabulous wine; it suits a lot of occasions. You can drink it as an aperitif, just in the afternoon or waiting for people to arrive for a dinner party. It’s great in summer, light and refreshing and matches a whole range of food, especially seafood because it has a lovely, fresh flavour."
Although Marlborough, at the top of the South Island, is the biggest exporter of sauvignon blanc in New Zealand, Yorke says other regions also produce great savs - such as the Hawke’s Bay on the North Island’s eastern coast, Martinborough in the North Island’s Wairarapa region, and Nelson, in the north of the South Island.
Kiwi wine fits Aussie climate
New Zealand wine writer and commentator Michael Cooper says the Kiwi sav, especially from Marlborough, is perfectly tailored for Australian weather.
"If you were to choose a wine style that would suit the hot Australian climate, surely you would go for something that is fresh, crisp, lively, aromatic, suited to outdoor dining - Marlborough sauvignon is all those things," Cooper said.
According to Cooper, the fruitiness of the sauvignon blanc made it a good wine for beginners, whose palate hadn’t learned to distinguish between different grape varieties.
"I think [sav] is the only varietal which you could fairly argue that New Zealand has its nose in front of the rest of the world."
In the same way, many Kiwis love drinking Australian reds in winter for the robust, full flavour that suits colder temperatures.
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