House of Arras is releasing its first-ever magnums to capitalise on Australia’s growing obsession with wow-factor bottles.
Winemaker Ed Carr (above) is excited to finally introduce his Arras magnums to wine lovers – the EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2003 magnum (RRP $399.99) and Grand Vintage 2007 magnum (RRP $250).
For Carr, producing his wines in magnums is a chance for experimentation as the larger format bottles create in a finer structure for the wines.
“Magnums evolve more slowly and are a bit more elegant in structure,” he explained.
According to Accolade Wines, owner of House of Arras, there’s been a surge of interest in magnums in Australia, particularly in on-premise.
Restaurants have been eager to get their hands on the Arras magnums, which are being rationed due to limited supply.
According to Wine Australia, magnums are also becoming a booming export market, with exports from Australia to the UK increasing by 130% last year.
UK buyers can’t get enough of them. Waitrose says purchases of magnums – twice the size of ordinary wine bottles – have doubled in the past year, while Sainsbury’s and Tesco have each seen growth of more than 20%. At Majestic Wine, the UK’s largest specialist wine shop, sales have risen by 500%.
The trend led to a record £15m in magnum sales being reported in the UK last year, according to Nielsen.
House of Arras releases unprecedented vintage collection
House of Arras’ magnums are part of a newly released quintet of vintage wines Carr has created.
Carr said it has been a case of the stars aligning with perfect maturation timing, which enabled him to disgorge and show five vintage sparkling wines at once.
“They are the result of having the patience to allow the wine to mature at its own pace and the experience to know when it is at its best,” he said. “It’s exciting to see how far these wines can go if you give them the opportunity to age.”
Drinks Trade and Drinks Bulletin sat down with Carr this week to taste the releases, including the EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2004 (RRP $199.99), which has spent 13 years on lees, and the Museum Release Blanc de Blancs 2001 (RRP $350) which has been aged for an incredible 15 years.
The latter is the product of a dedicated House of Arras museum release program where the most premium House of Arras vintages with the longest age receive special caretaking from Carr.
“The 2001 Blanc de Blancs is one of the most expensive products Arras has brought to market, but we absolutely believe that it’s worth the price,” said Carr. “Last year it picked up the Best Australian Future Release at the Champagne & Sparkling World Championships, and this year it won Gold at the 2018 Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships.”
The vintage collection is rounded off with the House of Arras Rosé 2007 (RRP $91.99), EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2003 magnum (RRP $399.99) and Grand Vintage 2007 magnum (RRP $250.00).
Booming sales for House of Arras
House of Arras is the number one $35+ Australian premium sparkling brand and House of Arras Brut Elite is the number one SKU in premium Australian Sparkling $35+ for both volume and value.
Sales for Accolade Wines across the Arras portfolio have more than doubled in four years; growing from almost $2.5 million (MAT to 11/01/15) to just over $5.5 million (MAT 07/01/18).
Shopper behaviour is also showing a trend towards choosing Australian sparkling on shelf.
Premium sparkling $15+ (excluding Champagne) is growing +15% vs. YA and total sparkling wine is growing at 4.5% vs. total wine at +3.3% YA.
Carr said Australians are becoming increasingly appreciative of how well Australian sparkling stacks up against Champagne.
“Ever year you see more acceptance,” he said. “Sparkling wine is perhaps a little harder to understand than still wine, so consumers will often focus on brand and choose a Champagne with a familiar label.
“You just need to get them to taste a great Australian sparkling and they’re converts.”
The new vintages of the EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2004 and House of Arras Rosé 2007 are available at leading liquor retailers nationwide as well as on www.houseofarras.com.au. The rest of the House of Arras portfolio are currently available through the same channels. The museum release wines and magnums will be available at the Bay of Fires cellar door in Tasmania and at select fine dining on-premise venues.