By Shane T Williams
The 'savalanche' of New Zealand sauvignon blancs dominating white wine sales in the Australian market is likely to slow over the next few years with local chardonnay poised to make a come-back.
This is the view of Treasury Wine Estates chief winemaker, Chris Hatcher, who believes producers have learnt from past mistakes when heavy, over-oaked chardonnays were widely rejected by consumers.
However recent Homescan Consumer Panel information released by Nielsen revealed the magnitude of the task ahead as an additional 74,000 Australian households purchased Kiwi wines over the past year, largely on the back of robust sauvignon blanc sales.
According to Hatcher, taking a look at red and white trends over the past 10 years can to some extent help predict what lies ahead.
He has noticed a movement away from the bigger wine styles with high alcohol, oak and excess fruit rejected in favour of a lighter, more floral and easy drinking wine style.
This does encourage entry level wine drinkers to choose wine as their preferred tipple but what do they drink next?
Chardonnay styles have adjusted to better reflect consumer palate: less oak and lower alcohol wines with a greater balance.
While some in the trade have championed the white knight of riesling or perhaps pinot grigio to one day overtake sauvignon blanc, it just may be chardonnay that reinvents itself to once again dominate Australian white wine.
In the video below, TheShout speaks with Treasury Wine Estates chief winemaker, Chris Hatcher, on wine trends.