Gold Coast Wine Snobs
Are Queensland wines good enough to serve to international visitors during the April 2018 Commonwealth Games? If you ask the Queensland Wine Makers from the Granite Belt around Stanthorpe, they’ll probably tell you that their wines are not just the equal of their southern counterparts, but even better! So the umbrage of local producers was probably predictable when Commonwealth Games organisers inked sponsorship deals with wine producers from everywhere but Queensland. And the story owned the headlines for days!
The GOLDOC Spin Doctors are trying to convince the Queensland Politicians and pockets of the public, that local wines can still be served through the Games caterers even if the maroon edged labels aren’t splashed across the lanyards of every VIP and Athlete that graces the Gold Coast facilities this April! But I’m not buying it.
It’s Business 101 that quality, choice and value for money will sway consumer behaviour, but I’d suggest that we shouldn’t forget Business 102; that mass production and economies of scale can drive down the unit cost of a product and create a competitive advantage. And regrettably, for the Stanthorpe based wineries, this is one place where size does matter. Queensland’s boutique producers don’t pretend that they are the cheapest; nor the biggest.
In the retail wine industry, it seems that the only thing that matters is “LUC” – Landed Unit Cost. And when local wineries are producing small batches of artisan-crafted product, the economic reality is that the cost of production must be significantly greater than that of the leviathan national and international brands and their volume based operations.
So should the Queensland Government loyally assist the local industry to be showcased at the Commonwealth Games? Well, I’m sure that minds will differ, but for me, it is hard to justify the price tag of playing polo with the royals. The Queensland industry was once based around the experience of sampling vino amongst the vines and only in recent years has it emerged as a legitimate contender in the retail market. But our wares aren’t “two buck chuck” and in a price sensitive market, it can be difficult for the Granite Belt to compete. Sure, there are some legacy issues where in the past a handful of what could best be described as “cooking wines” have been sold as Vin de Table, but those days are largely behind the region.
The Queensland industry is on the up, so much so that we have even had a Queenslander awarded Wine Maker of the Year in 2017 when Mike Hayes of Symphony Hill claimed the coveted accolade from the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology.
They won’t listen to me, but if I could call out a few Queensland wines for the Commonwealth Games organisers to serve up to VIP and commoners alike, I would suggest the Boireann La Cima Nebbiolo 2016, or the Gewurztraminer from Symphony Hill. It’s a special wine which will have you thinking it’s just Turkish Delight and lychees in a glass! It’s no wonder that this floral and spicy number put Mike Hayes in the cross-hairs of last years’ judging panel!
But perhaps most importantly, I’d prod the salivary glands of the GOLDOC decision makers with the tempting Pyramids Road Verdelho 2016. It’s a varietal that does extraordinarily well in the region and displays tropical fruits, pineapple and passionfruit across the palate before luxurious stone fruits and spices materialise at the back end. At around $20 a bottle, it can’t compete with the mass-produced sugar bombs that arrive from across the ditch, but I know what I would rather sip as I watch the beach volleyball at Coolangatta or the swimming at Optus Aquatic Centre!