How Aussies Wow Wine Drinkers

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - October 31, 2007
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I have been extremely impressed by the Australian wine industry’s ability to create wine brands that really strike a chord with wine drinkers. From cheeky labels and marketing to the actual hedonistic flavors of the wine in the bottle, they are some of the most highly coveted and drunk wines around. But more important than that, they have really ushered in new wine drinkers who would normally not have drunk wine.

You already know about the phenomenon that is Yellow Tail. Its story of selling a few thousand cases a year to a gazil-lion the next is well-documented. But even beyond those cute and fuzzy labels there are more serious wines that challenge Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for its reign on people’s palates. I’m talking about the likes of Marquis-Philips, Mollydooker and Air Wines.

All these wines are over-deliverers. They are wines that deliver impact and flavor far beyond the price they sell for. They all have what Sparky Marquis calls “fruit weight.”

This is the textural feeling of the weight of the wine on your palate. It is an almost sweet and fruity feeling that sends people’s palates scrambling for words. Most often they just say “Wow!”

These are certainly “wow” wines. Just look at their ratings. Wine Spectator magazine and the Wine Advocate are huge fans of these wines, indicated by their 90-plus point ratings. And yet you can find these wines for around $20 per bottle for the good stuff, then up to $150 per bottle for the most exclusive ones. But again, I must reiterate that they are more impactful wines than almost anything else in their price category. These wines jump out of the glass and deliver a HUGE punch of fruitiness that almost anyone can enjoy.

These wines are also made out of marketing people’s dreams.

Do you know you are more likely to remember a wine that has an animal on it? Do you know that if you pick up a bottle, you are more likely to buy it than if you don’t pick it up? And if you read the label you are even more likely to buy it?

Well, these wineries know that. That’s why the labels wrap all the way around the bottle, so you have to touch it to read the whole thing. That’s also why the text on many of the labels is printed vertically rather than horizontally, so you have to hold the bottle sideways, with two hands, thus already taking the bottle off the shelf.

But that’s not all. Mollydooker even lets you take away a piece of the label so that you can remember what you drank and go back and buy it again! Almost all are bottled in screw caps to ensure that you have a “non-corked” experience and don’t have to carry a wine key with you to have a good time.

The humor and irreverence that these wines bring to the industry have had a big impact on wine drinkers as well. These are not some venerable estate that was born of nobility in the 14th century. They are not mired in tradition and classicism. They extend beyond that and into the realm of being a fun and enjoyable beverage. Through this they have not only attracted cognoscenti but also the average drinker who couldn’t care less about points and terroir. Flavor and satisfaction are much more important. These wines are undeniably “bonk you over the head” flavorful.

No one should drink a bad wine more than once. So if it weren’t for the quality of the wine in the bottle, the marketing and labeling of these wines would fall flat on their faces. So I would like to say “Good on ya, mates!”

Check these out! 2006 Air Wines Shiraz ($18) Bold and beautiful, like a B52 bombing your palate with blueberries and cassis. A thick and juicy Shiraz! 2006 Marquis Philips Roogle Red ($12) Fun, forward berry jam and a sleek texture make this one of the year’s best values.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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