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14/09/2015

Australian wine excites at trade tastings in Japan and South Korea

Australian wine impressed influential members of the wine trade and media in both Japan and South Korea at large-scale tastings held by Wine Australia together with Austrade in early September.  

The annual Australian Wine Grand Tasting in Tokyo, Japan saw enthusiastic participation throughout the day, a significant increase in the number of exhibitors and more than 500 guests, the most ever for a Wine Australia event in Japan.

Feedback from guests demonstrated positive sentiment about how Australian wine had evolved to produce more balanced and delicate flavours while still exhibiting distinctively Australian qualities.

The ‘tasting trail’ led by certified A+ Australian Wine Trade Specialists offered guests a guided tour of the wines and regions showcased at the event, with many Japanese wine trade and media realising just how much more there is to discover about Australian fine wine and Australia’s 71 regions.

Makiko Morita, wine writer for Japanese drinks trade title Daily Wine and Spirits, said there was genuine excitement among guests at the Australian Wine Grand Tasting Tokyo. 

“New Australian wine brands – introduced to Japan in the wake of the free trade agreement – added more to that sense of excitement,” Morita said. “I was thrilled to witness something that appears to be an evolution because I believe change is an opportunity.  For Australian wine, I felt this evolution is an opportunity to create a new position in the Japanese wine market.”

In Seoul, South Korea more than 350 guests – including importers, retail buyers, sommeliers and wine media – tasted wines from 50 Australian brands (16 of them new to the Korean market) at the JW Mariott Hotel. This is the third Australian wine tasting event to be held in South Korea in the past year, ensuring that Australian wine remains top of mind for South Korea’s most influential wine trade and opportunities from the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) can be captured.

Suzie Chung, journalist from Korean wine news site Wine21.com said the event was a well-organised tasting which provided guests with a superb opportunity to not only appreciate the well-known Australian classics exhibiting their distinguished yet evolving styles, but also to discover new varietal and blended wines from lesser-known, emerging regions.

“What an experience!” Chung said.

Stuart Barclay, Wine Australia general manager – market development, who attended both events said it was remarkable to see the excitement and enthusiasm at the Grand Tasting events in Tokyo and Seoul with so many trade and media attending.

“From the conversations I had with guests, it’s clear that the Australian category is exciting the Japanese and Korean trade and I am hopeful that this will translate to increased sales of premium Australian wines in the coming months and years,” Barclay said.

“I must also thank our event partner Austrade. With the ratification of free trade agreements in both Japan and South Korea, I look forward to a continued strong partnership with Austrade as we help Australian wine exporters realise the opportunities presented by the tariff reductions in both of these critical Asian markets.”

In 2014–15, wine exports to Japan were up 10 per cent in value to A$44 million while volume hit a record 12 million litres. Tariffs on bulk wine were immediately reduced to zero when the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) came in to effect in January, contributing to a five-fold increase on bulk wine exports in the 12 months to 30 June 2015.

There have been two reductions in tariffs on bottled wine since the commencement of JAEPA and exporters are already experiencing benefits with the value of bottled exports rising 4.3 per cent to $34.6 million while the value of premium wines priced at $10 and above per litre grew 51 per cent to $8.1 million.

Australian wine exports to South Korea benefited from an immediate removal of when KAFTA came in to effect in December 2014. The value of Australian wine exports to South Korea rose 28 per cent in 2014–15 to $10 million while volume rose 38 per cent to 1.5 million litres. Both value and volume of Australian wine exports to South Korea are at their highest levels since 2008–09.

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