Down Under's 'terroir' stance in US

27 August, 2008
Page 11 
Was it a French terroir snob who recently said that "Australian regional wines are too often jammy and overripe"?

No , that was St Hallett's Stuart Black­well, one of four Australian and New Zealand winemakers on what they call an Antipodean Adventure to bring the message to the US that there is terroir Down Under.

The seven-city tour began in San Francisco and included, besides Blackwell - Andrew Hardy, general manager of Petaluma wines; Paul Smith, winemaker at Knappstein; and Ben Glover, winemaker at Wither Hills in New Zealand.

All the wineries are owned by the Beam Wine Group - also the owner of Geyser Peak in California - which has apparently been converted to the concept of terroir - wines from a place, rather than "wines from no place", as Hardy said.

It could also be that the Beam ­marketing department is aware that Australian imports into the US, especially in the lower price ranges, have stalled.

For the first six months of 2007, Australian table wine shipments to the US were up a sluggish 2 per cent.

Other key points covered by the winemakers were that there is plenty of room to plant more Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand and the US market has finally discovered Riesling, of which Australia has plenty.

No one expects Australia to walk away from the "good value" wine market in North America, but it seems to have learned there is another side to the coin.