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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

Wine is a battleground for retailers trying to increase footfall into their stores, and the major Australian brands are being used as cannon fodder, according to Graham Cranswick-Smith, managing director and chief executive officer of Cranswick Premium Wines. Asked if UK buyers are looking for regionality' as the next stage in the development of Brand Australia, Cranswick-Smith, who was in London recently, told Harpers: Buyers are pretty sanguine about Australia. They just want to know, "What is the quality and what is the price?" They do not believe strongly in the need for regionality.' He added: I believe you can only get the concept of terroir in Australia from the aromatic grape varieties from the cool-climate regions,' he said, referring to the likes of Tasmania, Clare Valley and parts of Western Australia. I have yet to find a "regional Chardonnay". It can come from any region: the oak treatment and/or whether it has undergone malolactic fermentation defies regional characteristics, and it's a similar case with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon.' Nevertheless, Cranswick-Smith believes that the development of Australia's regions will write a new page in the book of Australian wines'. Cranswick, which is best known for the Barramundi brand, is due to merge with Evans & Tate, the major Western Australia producer, in February. Cranswick is based in southeastern Australia and exports 80% of its wine, while Evans & Tate is based in Western Australia and exports just 20% of its output.