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NZ Wines Destined For Top Italian Tables

The America’s Cup has opened the door for Martinborough’s Palliser Estate to supply its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir range to Italy’s most prestigious wine distributor, Gaja Distribution.

Palliser is the first New Zealand wine to be listed by Gaja, and the contract will see its wines appear in some of the finest restaurants and wine specialty shops in Italy.

The initial order is for 400 cases, but that will grow as the relationship becomes more established, says Palliser Managing Director Richard Riddiford.

Riddiford says from a positioning point of view, the endorsement from Gaja is marvellous for Palliser and for the New Zealand wine industry.

“It will result in increased foreign exchange earnings and is also a further step in widening the number of markets for premium New Zealand wines. Gaja has excellent distribution throughout Italy and more importantly is a world famous label in its own right.”

Riddiford says the deal would never have come about without the America’s Cup.

“That was a huge event in Italy, very high profile. Prior to that only a very small percentage of Italians even knew where New Zealand was and they certainly didn’t know we produced good wine.”

The relationship between Palliser and Gaja was facilitated by
Trade New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner in Milan, Charles Barkla and our Ambassador in Rome, Peter Bennett. Riddiford says it’s an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together to achieve a commercial result.

Commenting on Gaja’s decision to list the Palliser wines, Charles Barkla says it’s a major step forward in the number of New Zealand wines sold regularly to Italy, the largest wine producing nation in the world.

“We currently sell about 24,000 litres of wine to Italy annually, and while volumes are never likely to be on a par with the UK, Italians regard nations that produce high quality wine with respect. Similar to their discovery of
New Zealand during the Americas Cup, the introduction of a top wine like Palliser to the Gaja distribution list will measurably improve our profile in Italy.”

Gaja first expressed an interest in listing a range of New Zealand wines during an official visit by the Ambassador and Barkla in late 1999.

Riddiford says he thinks Gaja selected Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc varieties because they are distinctly New Zealand and something the Martinborough wine producer does extremely well.

Palliser has long been one of New Zealand’s highest profile wine producers. Established 18 years ago, the company exports about 12,000 cases of wine to 14 countries annually.

Riddiford says Palliser is an ultra premium producer concentrating on the very top end of the export market.

“We are always on the lookout for the perfect partners to distribute our wines and if we could have chosen any partner in Italy it would have been Gaja. Angelo Gaja has revolutionised the Italian wine industry, firstly by exporting a lot of his own wines and secondly by considerably upgrading what the Italians do with their own wines in terms of quality.”

Riddiford hopes Angelo Gaja and other Italian distributors will travel to Wellington in January for Pinot Noir 2001, a forum for key people in the wine industry all over the world to come together to explore developments and relationships associated with this increasingly popular wine variety.

For more information contact:

Richard Riddiford
Palliser Estate
Ph: 06 306 9019

Charles Barkla
Trade Commissioner and Consul General
Trade New Zealand, Milan
Ph: +39 02 48 01 25 44
Mobile Ph: +39 (0) 335 291 224

Released by Sara Darby, Trade New Zealand, Communications, ph 04 496 6418


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