McGuigan launches £100 wine in the UK

Australian wine giant McGuigan has released one of its most ambitious wines yet in the UK – a Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blend priced at £100.

Neil McGuigan with his ‘icon’ wine The Philosophy 2012

Called The Philosophy, the 2012 vintage is made from small parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes grown in the Clare Valley and Langhorne Creek, with McGuigan keeping aside the best quality fruit for the blend.

Boasting “deep layers of cassis, blueberries and plum underpinned by vanilla and chocolate”, the “rich and full-bodied” red spends two years in French and American oak before bottling, and a further two years in bottle before release.

Speaking to db during the London Wine Fair this week, chief winemaker Neil McGuigan said that sticking with the UK market despite the uncertainty of Brexit was starting to pay off.

“Two years ago Brexit hurt us and we lost half our profit in the UK but we decided to continue investing in the market with a big London Underground ad campaign.

“We have worked hard to extend our footprint in the UK as we can’t walk away from a country that has supported us from day one. We could have backed off but our continued investment is paying off now,” he said.

“As a wine business you’ve got to respond to consumer trends and continue to innovate in order to keep consumers engaged and enthused.

“We’re pushing harder on the accelerator rather than taking our foot off the gas and will be planting an additional 240 hectares of vines over the next two years.

“We’re planting more in cooler climate regions like the Adelaide Hills and are experimenting the Carmenère and Grüner Veltliner,” he added.

Always on the move, McGuigan has recently been in the US, where he spies an opportunity for Australian wine to make inroads.

“Australian wine is now on people’s radars in the US and people are ready to engage with it again. The foodie culture is really taking off in the US but there’s a lot of work to do there and we need to work hard at pounding the pavements there.

“The favourable exchange rate in the US has put us back in the game and given us a great opportunity,” he said. “Australian wines appeal to American palates as they can give great softness, richness, brightness and opulent fruit at the right price.

“We make a separate range specifically designed for the US market, which is like Australia on steroids. The wines are deliberately brighter and more fruit forward with fine grained tannins and voluptuous fruit.

“I wish I was 40 as it’s a hard road ahead and will take a decade to make inroads in the US. I can smell the opportunity there though,” he added. As for China, McGuigan revealed that its distributor, COFCO, is doing “an excellent job”, but that people “still want to drink Grange and top-end Bordeaux” there.

“I want to attract new drinkers in China over to the wine category who are currently drinking Coca-Cola. Our Black Label red blend is ideal for this as it’s soft, voluptuous and fruity and will get them on the wine trail,” McGuigan told db.

“Wine is the original craft product and our friends making other beverages have gotten in on that trend. We recently launched our Single Batch project to appeal to millennials who seek out craft products. We started with Chardonnay and Shiraz as they are iconic Australian varieties, but will release other varieties in the range like Riesling in the future,” he added.

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