Australia is the bestselling country of origin in the UK off-trade, with value sales up 2.1% in the past year (IRI, year to March 26, 2016).
Waitrose has more of a reputation for championing France and the Old World, but it is keen to capitalise on growth in the Australian category.
Buyer Alexandra Mawson spent four years in Sydney at Cellarmasters and Virgin Wines before moving back to the UK to take over buying for Australia, New Zealand and the USA at Waitrose, and she has brought back some of the wines she loved during her time Down Under.
She said: “I want Australia to grab more attention from our customers and enjoy exuberant sales growth. Since joining the Waitrose team last year, my ambition has been to inject the range with regionality and personality.
“Peppered among the selection of well-loved large brands, my aim has been to introduce further breadth and diversity, showcasing some charismatic and diverse winemakers and their appealing vibrant, top-value wines, many of which have never been sold in the UK and are exclusive to Waitrtose.”
By mid-July, 25 wines will have been replaced, which equates to around 45% of the retailer’s high distribution core and fine wine offering.
Highlights among the reds include a £16.99 Tasmanian Pinot Noir from Eddystone Point, the Parker Favourite Son Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 from Coonawarra (£7.49), Storm Tree Shiraz 2015 from South Eastern Australia (£5.79), Climbing Shiraz 2013 Orange from New South Wales (£8.99) and Simon Hackett’s Champion Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from Coonawarra (£28.99).
Fox Gordon Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from Adelaide Hills (£7.99), Baily and Baily Folio Riesling 2014 from Clare Valley (£8.39) and Heirloom Chardonnay 2015 from Adelaide Hills are among the picks of the whites.
Mawson said: “My aim is to showcase the direction that I believe Australian wine is taking: consolidating its position as a serious contributor of hallmark varietal wines, offering stunning purity of fruit with inspiring labelling and presentation, at excellent value for money.”
She added that Waitrose has a desire to be a destination retailer for Australian wine.