Wine Australia 2000 comment ; Australia confirms global leadership aspirations
The event has also managed to stay clear of the pomposity that follows wine buffs in the old world - the visitors on trade and public days have been young and casual.
As far as the press corp was concerned Wine Australia was about finding out who was going to buy whom. Hardys and Cranswick both admitted they were look for acquisitions in the US but talking seems to be all they are doing. Mildara Blass ruled the exhibition as the undisputed heavyweight having already succeeded in finding a deal in America.
But mutterings among the senior executives of Australia's wine companies suggests that Southcorp is the company that is in biggest trouble. It has announced a 10% share buy back, which surprised nobody. But it seems short on ideas and displays all the vulnerable paranoia and desperation that companies with wobbly futures always display.
Southcorp's share buy back will do absolutely nothing to protect it and, if anything, raises the stakes by increasing share value.
The other trend spotted at Wine Australia 2000 was for novelty wines targeting young consumers who are not used to, and not educated in, wine drinking.
BRL Hardy is launching Wicked Wines and Mildara Blass etc. Both are high on marketing and design but both have also refused to stint on quality and price - a commendable virtue if they want to attract wine drinkers rather than wine drunkards.
With both these two major issues - acquisitions among the big boys and new concept wines - the difference between New and Old World is stark.
There is not a chance in hell of an Old World winery thinking up something a heretical as Wicked Wines but also there is a feeling that the Aussies want to conquer the world and with dynamic leadership from the likes of Hardy's Steve Millar there is a good chance they will succeed.
Only LVMH is doing anything even remotely aggressive in the Old World and many wineries down under just cannot work out why the French, in particular, are letting them waltz matilda into traditional strongholds such as UK supermarkets.
Wine Australia 2000 has been a confirmation for the big wine companies that they are now global players but for the little guys - and there are a lot of them - it has been business as usual. They have poured plenty of wine down throats and will have to hope for some payback.
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