16 Sep 2012

Claim NZ wine producers needn't fear Australian competition

9:02 am on 16 September 2012

One of Australia's leading wine commentators doesn't think New Zealand producers and exporters of the red wine syrah need to worry about increased production in Australia.

Some 1400 tonnes of syrah grapes are harvested in New Zealand, compared with more than 400,000 tonnes of the variety in Australia, where the wine is known as shiraz.

Lester Jesberg, editor of Canberra-based independent Winewise magazine, says New Zealand syrah, especially those from Hawke's Bay, have a character all of their own which sets them apart from anything produced in Australia.

He says regionality and a distinctive wine style is very important and Hawke's Bay producers have nailed it with syrah.

Mr Jesberg says in Hawke's Bay's favour is the fact their syrah is closer to the Rhone style of shiraz that the English have become used to drinking.

"I know there's a lot of this liking of the so-called 'sunshine in a glass' from Australia, but when you put the wines on the table - I just speak personally here - the big, heavy alcoholic red wine is not a good food wine, but the more elegant spicy style of shiraz is".