Cuttings - Jen Pfeiffer - July 2014
By Jen Pfeiffer
Greetings from London! I am currently on a promotional trip through the UK, and am enjoying a beautiful sunny day in the park as I write this. Certainly being in the UK gives me the opportunity to reflect on how much our business has grown over the last 30 years and how the wine world has become a much more global environment in which we must compete.
I remember the heady days of the 1990s when Australian wine exploded on the UK scene, and saw a huge level of unprecedented growth in the wine industry.
Australian wine producers were courted by agents wanting to capitalise on the wave of success Australian wine was having in the UK – and Pfeiffer Wines were no exception. We were in fact approached by two agents, one of whom said that the brand “Pfeiffer” would never work in the UK due to its German origins!
Unsure of the validity of the advice, Mum and Dad made two shipments to the UK, one under the “Pfeiffer” label, and the other under the “Carlyle” label, named after the parish of Carlyle in which we are based. As fate would have it, the Carlyle label was a runaway success and hence saw the birth of the Pfeiffer Carlyle brand of which we are very proud.
Over the years, we have seen different label designs come and go, many of which can be seen on the cover of this edition of our Cuttings. Like the changes in the label designs, there have also been many trends and changes in wine styles over the years. As part of our 30th Birthday Celebrations, we have been opening several back vintages of the various wines, which allows us to not only see evolution in wine style across decades, but also evolution through bottle ageing, which is a very rewarding experience.
And naturally there are some old “pfavourites”, and some wonderful surprises along the way. After completing a tasting with Dad of both Pfeiffer Riesling and Pfeiffer Chardonnay, dating back to the 1980s, Dad concluded that “we really do make age worthy whites”. The delicious 1991 Pfeiffer Chardonnay that we shared for dinner that night was testimony to that!!!!
Of course, we have been delighted to see how our red wines are ageing too – the 1990s yielded a wonderful decade of excellent vintages, and our Pfeiffer Cabernet Sauvignon and Pfeiffer Pinot Noir are the shining lights. The 1994 Pinot Noir has blissful elegance, with cherry and berry fruit and amazing complexity. And Dad produced vintage after vintage of stunning Cabernet Sauvignons, of which I think the 1997 is his “pfavourite”!!!! As the decade of the 90s drew to an end, we released our inaugural vintage of Merlot – the 1994 as a five year old gem. Dad was committed to releasing the wine with 5 years bottle age on it. While our Pfeiffer Merlot is released as a young wine now, the foundation was laid to produce what some leading commentators describe as the best Merlot in Australia!!!!
The big change in the 2000s was of course the emergence of screwcaps. We were one of the first wineries in Victoria, and certainly the first winery in Rutherglen to bottle our wines under screwcap. As we are starting to see wines now under screwcap that have 10 years of age on them, I feel confident in saying that it has been the correct decision, with the wines still showing aged characters, but retaining a freshness of fruit that only the best corks deliver. Those of you with many of our 2006 wines in your cellar – get excited – it is shaping up to be a most age-worthy vintage!!!
With all this reflection, it is also natural to think about what the future will bring. New varieties are rapidly emerging in Australia, with consumers seemingly more willing to experiment and try new things. Pinot Grigio and Tempranillo are enjoying some time in the sun at the moment, but Australians are interested in discovering more about Italian, Spanish and Portuguese varieties.
Of course, the way we do business now is changing quickly – online sales and marketing is now a huge part of our wine business. We also must ask ourselves, how will we make our mark in an ever competitive wine world? What new markets will evolve?
These challenges are part of what keeps the wine industry such a vibrant and dynamic industry to be a part of. I certainly hope the next 30 years of Pfeiffer Wines allows us continued success.
In the meantime, delve into the depths of your cellars, grab a dusty old bottle of Pfeiffer’s “pfine” wine, and enjoy the delights that ageing our wine can bring.