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CRIKEY! Canadians go crazy for Australian wines



Most Australians are known for enjoying a drop or two of what they call "God’s nectar" and no, that’s not Foster’s we’re referring to. Our bronzed Commonwealth cousins drink 21 litres of red and white wine per person annually, that’s 40 per cent more than Canadians, so when we’re visualizing a good vino, you might as well ask them.

A good start locally would be B.C Liquor Store’s portfolio manager, Chris Perry. He’s the man responsible for all those green and brown glass bottles clinking all over the province.

"Sales of Aussie wine imports are hot right now, there’s no doubt about it," said Perry.

Let’s drink to that because statistics show Down Under’s drops are now the number one imports in to B.C. In 2002, we sipped 3.3 million litres of Australian red and white wine — nearly a litre for every person in the province and an increase of over 21 per cent on the previous year. Perry says B.C.’s wine consumers are savvy selectors.

"They’re looking for the best quality wine for their money and apart from our own B.C. vineyards, Australia is the best option. It helps having such a favourable exchange rate so comparable to our own dollar, but the reputation is that you’re getting real value for money buying Aussie imports."

Let’s put cork-popping statistics aside for a moment. Aussie wines are serious business here. So much so there are six accredited Australian wine societies spread across Canada. President of the 20-year-old and 200-strong Vancouver club, Tony Beattie, is a Canuck who has spent considerable time in Australia as a pilot for Air Canada.

"I do the Van to Sydney via Honolulu and back route," said Beattie. "I was also based in Sydney for a few years and got a real taste for Aussie wines while I was there. When I came back to Canada permanently, I started my wine cellar and have been a huge fan ever since. Aussie brands and choices really expanded my palette. It’s a fabulous region to start with if you want to become a collector," he said.

So from a drinker’s perspective, what’s so good about Aussie wines?

"They’re full of flavour and a lot are made to drink straight away," Beattie said. Right, so less tannins and more drinkability, check .

Aussie wines are masters when it comes to marketing.

"They’re constantly looking to improve themselves, their blends of grapes are quite daring, whereas the Europeans are quite set in their ways," Beattie adds. "Then there’s the screw top bottle, that was a big controversy but now traditionalists are realizing you don’t need a cork, the wine won’t be ruined." Easy to open, check.