Local Food-Wine Experience Success at Mercure Resorts

Local_Food-WineQueensland has uncovered alternatives to sun, sand and surf – it’s now sem, sauv and shiraz.

Long rated as the poor cousin of Australian wine regions, Queensland’s wineries are fair blossoming and enjoying great publicity and even greater sales.

In AMG issue 34, the F&B feature focused on the importance of restaurants marrying local food and wine experiences and Mercure’s Queensland Grands Vins is certainly doing that.

While Queensland’s summer just gone may have been a wash-out, the state’s wines enjoyed bumper growth over the holiday season, with the popularity of Mercure’s pioneering Queensland Grands Vins wine list proving there are many more attractions to the Sunshine State than just sun, sand and surf.

Figures for the spring-summer Grands Vins menu showed an increase in demand for Queensland wines of 27.4% compared to the corresponding Grands Vins menu of the dryer 2009-10 spring-summer season.

“Maybe people spent more time at the bar watching the rain come down,” mused Accor’s Queensland regional manager, Neil Scanlan. “Or the other, probably more credible, explanation is that locals and visitors alike are appreciating the improved quality of Queensland’s wines.”

Mr Scanlan said that the launch of Mercure’s autumn-winter Grands Vins list would highlight that while Queensland’s weather had become more variable in recent years, Queensland’s wines were only getting better with every new season.

Mercure’s Grands Vins is a wine list dedicated to showcasing some of Queensland’s signature wines and is featured at Mercure hotels across the state to allow visitors to appreciate the maturity of the local industry. The Queensland wine list has been a feature of Mercure hotels in Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville for the past three years and will now also be incorporated into the newly added Mercure Clear Mountain Lodge and Mercure Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island.

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Labels on the wine list, which is revised twice yearly, are selected from a number of boutique wineries in the Stanthorpe region, recognised as Queensland’s premier wine area, as well as from the emerging regions of South Burnett, the Darling Downs and the Gold Coast hinterland.

Accor’s Mercure brand is the first major hotel group in Queensland to develop a defined program to promote the state’s wine industry and the launch of the new Grands Vins list is a vote of confidence in Queensland’s wine and tourism industry at a time when the latter faces significant challenges.

Mr Scanlan said that the initiative was a positive move for wine tourism.

“When visitors come and stay at a Mercure Queensland hotel we want them to have a complete Queensland experience. Wine and food is very much a part of the travel experience and Mercure is working hard to bring the wine and tourism experience together,” said Mr Scanlan.

The autumn-winter list features some of the state’s finest wineries including Robert Channon Wines, Symphony Hill, Summit Estate, Ballandean Estate, Sirromet, Mount Tamborine, Ridgemill Estate, Settler’s Rise and Golden Grove. The wines offer a wide range of varietals that perform well in Queensland conditions, such as verdelho, pinot gris and malbec and for the first time includes a sparkling wine, the award-winning sparkling chardonnay from Robert Channon Wines.

The Grands Vins wine list is designed to make wine selection easier, grouping wines in four particular styles – fresh and tasty; fruity and light; balanced and elegant and spicy and full bodied. This helps guests choose the most suitable wine for every occasion and dish while introducing wines that they might not otherwise experience. Every wine offered has been selected by an expert tasting panel comprising sommeliers, wine connoisseurs and food and beverage professionals with final judging conducted with appropriate food courses to ensure the wines are “food friendly”. Some 80% of wine sold at Mercure hotels is consumed with food, so compatibility with food is a major judging criteria.

Pricing is also considered as Mercure wants to dispel the myth that good wine has to be expensive. Mercure’s Grands Vins shows it is possible to enjoy great wines – many from smaller vineyards - at very attractive prices, by both the glass and the bottle.

The Mercure Grands Vins regional lists complement each hotel’s standard wine list, which together provide a comprehensive range of Australian and international wines.

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Launch of Queensland Mercure Grands Vins: Karen Taylor (Mercure Brisbane), Michael Mihaly (Sirromet), Ewen Macpherson (Symphony Hill), Stuart Ostle (Ballandean Estate),Peter McGlashan (Ridgemill Estate), Robert Channon (Robert Channon Wines), Wayne Taite (Summit Estate)

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