The Australian wine industry has hit out at New Zealand's
sauvignon blanc, with one Aussie wine-maker labelling it "the
McDonald's of wines".
Wine Australia last month called for Aussie wine drinkers to
"ditch that Sav Blanc from across the Tasman in favour of a
top local drop" for Australia Day.
At the weekend, a Sydney Morning Herald article featured
several winemakers rallying against New Zealand's hugely
James Agnew, who has a family-run vineyard in New South
Wales' Hunter Valley and is the former chairman of the NSW
Wine Strategy, told the paper New Zealand's savs are "the
McDonald's of wines".
"You can go all over the world but a Big Mac is still a Big
Mac," he said.
Sampling a glass of Australia's top selling white wine, an
Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc, Hunter Valley winemaker Bruce
Tyrrell told the Sydney Morning Herald it tasted of
"passionfruit ... body odour ... cat's pee ... lantana".
Stuart Gregor of Liquid Ideas PR agency, who used to promote
Marlborough's Montana and Stoneleigh wines, described Kiwi
sav as a "one trick pony", while others in the Australian
wine industry interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald
labelled New Zealand's savs as "one-dimensional" and
Their comments, however, may just be sour grapes.
In 2009, New Zealand sauvignon blanc overtook chardonnay as
the top-selling white wine in Australia, with Kiwi sav now
accounting for 39 per cent of the white wine sold across the
Of the 20 top-selling sauvignon blancs, 17 are from New
Zealand and only three Australian.
To counter the Kiwi invasion, Wine Australia last year
launched Aussie Wine Month, urging Australians to opt for
local brands for the month of April.
Chief executive of New Zealand Wine, Philip Gregan, was
confident Australians would continue to enjoy New Zealand
"New Zealand sauvignon blanc has been incredibly successful
over the past two decades. It's been successful because it is
very good and it is very distinctive."
Mr Gregan said the negative comments from within the
Australian wine industry were "unfortunate".
"That's not the response that we have from most people in the
trade in Australia, consumers in Australia and anywhere else.
The wine is appreciated for what it is, and it is very, very
good," he said.
"I don't know what motivates people - perhaps it is
commercial jealousy, I don't know."
Mr Gregan believed demand would continue to grow, not just in
Australia, but in newer markets such as China and parts of
"Demand for New Zealand sauvignon blanc continues to grow
around the world, that's the reality of the situation," he
"We haven't seen anything to indicate that the love affair
with Marlborough sauvignon blanc is declining in any way."
- Paul Harper of nzherald.co.nz