The company’s chief executive, Neil McGuigan, believes there is a “big opportunity” to enhance Riesling’s appeal and introduce consumers to new styles from the country as he strives to demonstrate Australia’s ability to make leaner wines that represent a shift from the over-oaked whites that spear- headed its popularity.
It is planning to release an 11.5% abv Riesling under the McGuigan Classic range later this year to encourage drinkers to reevaluate their impressions.
McGuigan said: “Julian Dyer, our UK general manager, has seen an opportunity for a more aromatic style of Riesling with lightness and zippy acidity. Semillion was very unloved, but look where we’ve taken it. We want to do the same with Riesling.”
The company said it intended to bring a number of new products to market this year, including a push behind sparkling. McGuigan visited the UK last week to lobby for wines from 9%-12% abv to be given a similar tax break to lower strength ones to enable producers to make more nuanced wines and aid the industry’s efforts to encourage responsible consumption.
McGuigan said: “We do a good job with wines at 5.5% abv but we would do a great job at 9-10%. Our sales at 5.5% are also going crazy but we can give consumers more.”
Dyer added that at a 9% abv threshold it could make wines with more depth and texture compared with lower levels, which were designed to hit certain price points and take advantage of the current tax regime.
The duo met Miles Beale, the chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, urging him to push the issue further up the government agenda and said they were “encouraged” by his reaction.
Beale said: “We are pleased at the progress being made to deliver the unit reduction pledge and are committed to working with our members to promote lower alcohol alternatives.”