Sales of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to Australia have soared with the varietal’s popularity increasing 143% from November to December last year.

A surplus of the variety in New Zealand, particularly in the major Sauvignon Blanc-producing region of Marlborough, is thought to be largely responsible for the increase.

The surplus has seen price promotions in shops showing cuts of several (Australian) dollars per bottle during the past six months.

Phil Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers also claimed that New Zealand wines filled gaps in the Australian domestic market.

‘It’s because New Zealand wines tend to be complementary with Australian wines,’ he said.

Popular New Zealand varieties including Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are not prominent in Australia.

He added that a trend of 50% growth in exports to Australia had been consistent ‘for the past five or six years’. Sauvignon Blanc remained the most popular (its sales to Australia increased 52.3% in 2008). Pinot Noir had also helped the boost sales.

However, in the February/March edition of New Zealand Winegrower journal, Gregan is reported as saying that Marlborough was now in oversupply following a 61% increase in production in the 2007 vintage. Markets had yet to be found for the surplus.

Sauvignon Blanc now makes up 42% of the 65m litres of wine imported into Australia in 2008 and New Zealand wines accounted for nearly 50% of all Australian wine imports in 2008.

Written by Chris Snow in Adelaide