"People are Pinot Grigio-ed and Sauvignon Blanc-ed out"

14 February, 2014

Accolade has reported double-digit growth in market-leading Australian brand Hardys and said the return to prominence of Chardonnay from Down Under will spur even greater progress.

Hardys is up 14% in value and 10% in volume over the past 12 months, according to Accolade.

Paul Schaafsma, general manager for UK and Ireland, told OLN: “We have had a strong year. We are really pleased with the performance of our Australian portfolio and we are going to be investing heavily in it to make sure it’s relevant through the line.

“We have to keep on top of our game and make sure the wine and packaging is right.”

Accolade surveyed 1,000 consumers and found that 25% were drinking more Chardonnay than they were a year ago.

Chardonnay is the fastest-growing Australian variety in the UK, according to Nielsen, and Accolade plans to ramp up its focus on what Schaafsma calls “the prince of grapes”.

He said: “One of the things we are going to focus on is the more premium side of Hardys, with the William Hardy and Eileen Hardy tiers, to show what Australian Chardonnay can do.

“People are now saying they want an oaked Chardonnay. They don’t just want an unoaked, dumbed-down Chardonnay. They want some texture.

“People are Pinot Grigio-ed and Sauvignon Blanc-ed out.

“Pinot Grigio is a neutral dry white and you can understand why it’s been appealing.

“Sauvignon Blanc worked as a complete style change, but we now need to make sure Australian Chardonnay is a compelling proposition.

“We are passionate about it – 53% of Australian exports are Chardonnay, why wouldn’t we want to be passionate about it?”

Schaafsma said social media has helped revive Chardonnay, with bloggers and influential tweeters backing the grape and creating a “cool factor”.

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