Figures recently released by market research agency AC Nielsen show Australian wine has become the most popular wine in the UK off-trade, overtaking its closest rival France in both volume and value.

The latest MAT figures (July/August 2003) show total Australian case sales reaching nearly 14.5m, up 13% on the year and triple the growth of the total UK wine category, which is currently tracking at +4%.

The Australian sector has driven not only grown in volume in the UK wine category, but also grown in value. Annual sales revenue to July/August 2003, for the Australian sector totaled £956m, nearly 25% of the value of the UK wine market.

Brands continue to drive the overall market. The Australian wine group Southcorp said that its brands Lindemans and Rosemount Estate, which now account for 20% of Australian wine sales revenue in the UK, have this year generated a combined revenue of £153m, nearly £3m in business for the UK off trade each week. Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay, with revenue totaling £18m, is growing at 28% year-on-year.

Red wine has driven Australian growth in the last 12 months. Australian red wine has grown at 17% in both volume and value, while white wine volume growth has been more restrained at 9%.

The most popular red style remains the blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, which accounts for 33% of the Australian sector by volume.

The hot weather in the summer also aided sales of Australian white wines and between May and August this year sales volumes climbed by 11%. Chardonnay maintains its pre-eminent position as the leading Australian white wine, commanding nearly 50% of Australian white wine volume sales.