Popular Posts

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Austria's Fine Brands at Oddbins - And Building a Market In Singapore‏

At the recent Oddbins fair in London, I bumped into Michael Thurner of Austria's Fine Brands who was showing wines from Markus Huber and Markowitsch.

I know Huber's wines (Riesling and GV from Traisental) well and am a big fan. I am a more recent convert to Austria's reds, but was very impressed with the Markowitsch Pinot Noir and Zweigelt blend - especially given their mid-teens pricing - as were two fellow bloggers, Paola Tich and Tara O'Leary.

I originally met Michael at the Annual Tasting of Austrian Wines in London a couple of years ago and since then have met the remainder of the AFB team, wife Tiina at LIWF and assistant Angela Ferrara at this year's Austrian event.

A 30-something (just !) Austrian with an MBA, Michael is now based in Singapore where he is single-handedly carving out a market for Austrian wines.

He describes the Austrian wine scene when he arrived as being "just a few hundred bottles a year".

A tiny, hot, sticky, go-ahead Asian powerhouse peninsula with a strict regime and industrious work ethic, Singapore is perhaps not the obvious place to build a market for Austrian wines, especially given its pavement cafe culture that causes wines to warm up in the glass rapidly.

Michael explained that there are two distinct markets in Singapore - outdoor drinking needs big, oaky New World whites that can bear to be drunk at a higher temperature, whilst air-conditioned cafes need wines that match the local Asian cuisine. And this is where Austria comes in.

For many years, I used to travel on business to Vienna and found Austrian whites to be great food matches with restaurant food and especially with the Franco-Vietnamese fusion style of Indochine 22.

The reds, Zweigelt and especially Pinot Noir, being lower in tannins naturally, also suit a hot climate with aromatic foods.

As a small country, Austria does not really do volume and therefore does not churn out the masses of quaffable plonk we see from Australia and inland Spain, for example. Rather, the focus is on quality, terroir and, inevitably, pricing.

However, with the world's greatest density of millionaires, Singapore has deep pockets and can afford to do more than just buy the second-cheapest wine on the list.

So, with food-friendly wines looking for a market to build an upmarket reputation, an affluent population, and an air-conditioned culture, it's only a wonder that no-one else has thought of it.

The Huber and Markowitsch wines are not yet listed on the Oddbins website, but are well worth looking out for.


Oddbins - http://www.oddbins.co.uk
Austria's Fine Brands - http://www.austriasfinebrands.com/

Paola Tich - http://www.sipswooshspit.com/
Tara O'Leary - http://winepassionista.com/

No comments:

Post a Comment