BENDIGO'S Chardonnay appears to be making a mark on the most enthusiastic wine lovers, who are more likely than other drinkers to mention lesser-known regions.
The keenest drinkers were more likely to mention "up-and-coming" Chardonnay regions like Bendigo, Eden Valley, the Mornington Peninsula and Canberra district more often, which are often known for cooler climates and produce a distinct style.
Bendigo was linked to fine Chardonnay by 7.7 per cent of Australians in the online survey of wine lovers, compared to 6 per cent in Heathcote, the University of Adelaide study of consumer attitudes showed.
Yet 11.1 per cent of the most enthusiastic wine lovers - who consumed wine once a week, kept records of what they drank and checked for faults prior to consumption - mentioned regions including Bendigo's.
Mandurang Valley Wines' Wes Vine said some people would be surprised at the quality of Bendigo's Chardonnay, because it is often seen as a red wine region.
"We find that at our cellar door. People don't come in thinking we sell white wines," he said.
The market research sought to define what buyers associated with fine Australian Chardonnay and Shiraz.
It found that the Barossa Valley was most associated with fine wines, which suggested consumers did link fine wine with Australian regions much as they do with "old world" European wines.
More than 46 per cent of people surveyed linked fine Chardonnay with the Barossa Valley, with 41 per cent doing the same for Shiraz.
The results could help tourism and hospitality workers suggest fine Shiraz alternatives to the Barossa Valley, "rather than expecting all consumers to be adventurous and take a leap of faith in trusting the menu or wait-staff suggestions, study authors noted.
Nearly 10 per cent of consumers linked Heathcote to fine Australian Shiraz, compared to 5.2 for Bendigo.
That was not something that surprised Balgownie Estate's head winemaker Tony Windspear.
"At the moment. Heathcote is definitely more accepted on the world stage. They have got several major companies ... which have large plantings and holdings," he said.
"So they have a greater market penetration which takes the Heathcote name further through Australia and internationally."
The study was published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management.
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