Welcome to the World of Australian Wines
Australia is a nation with so much abundance on its land mass of more that is 7.5 million sq. km; which could fit England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland 30 times and still have a bit left over. But the land down under is filled with beaches, waterfalls, outback, animals, wonderful weather all with a laid-back lifestyle and some of the best wine producing regions in the world!
The Wine Country that has it all
Australia is proving that its wines have a quality and diversity in abundance, with such a varied climate and topography to be able to produce a wide variety of excellent wines.
The climate of individual regions has by far the greatest influence on wine style, so the key to unlocking the potential of Australia’s wines is in understanding the geographical distinction of its vineyards. The 5 most important wine states in Australia are: Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.
Australia has such success with growing a wide range of grapes, for reds varieties such as Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre and Pinot Noir and for whites, Chardonnay, Riesling, sauvignon blanc and Sémillon. However, it is probably shiraz which headlines in Australia. Growers and winemakers are planting many unusual varieties too, from Mediterranean grapes like Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Verdelho and Viognier to Russian grapes such as Saperavi.
Now let us dive deeper into the 5 most important wine states of Australia.
Western Australia is known for its spectacular golden beaches and giant tree forests. WA has a cooler Mediterranean climate of warm breezy summer days and cool nights in the wine producing areas, which results in wines to have delicious fruit ripeness with freshness, making the wines particularly appealing. Margaret River is a very well-known region in Western Australia, which produces age worthy Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and fruity, zesty Sémillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends.
South Australia takes the crown for the wine state of Australia, producing most of the country’s wines and boasting some of the oldest vines in the world. SA has dry, hot climates which ripen grapes fully, creating bold, dense and concentrated wines. The Barossa Valley has a rich viticultural history with patches of bush trained vines of more than 100 years old, and it is the first and main red wine region; again, Shiraz is king here but Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Mourvèdre play a very important part too.
Eden Valley is another wine region within South Australia with its topography of a series of elevated hills, producing exceptional Shiraz and floral Riesling. Clare Valley represents Australia’s pinnacle for Riesling, where the elevated vineyards produce dry whites of immense class and purity. McLaren Vale climate is maritime and produces lush, chocolatey reds from Shiraz, Grenache and cabernet to elegant Chardonnay, Viognier and Marsanne. The Coonawarra is South Australia’s leading cabernet region with its unique terra rossa soils producing grapes with intense flavors and fabulous structure. Langhorne Creek is cooled by a lake and nearby sea and grows grapes of very good quality at low cost; they are excellent value wines with a softness to them and a fullness of flavor. Lastly, the Adelaide Hills which are just east of the city and produce lemony Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Victoria has the most diverse conditions for vine growing, and is by far the most varied of Australia’s wine states. It only has 30% of the country’s total plantings and boasts the greatest number of wineries of any state, which results in a colorful collection of wine styles, grape varieties and sub regions. Yarra Valley is arguably the state’s best-known region and it is famous for its pinot noir and chardonnay, and has recently been successful with shiraz. Mornington Peninsula is surrounded by the ocean and is quite cool, so it is suited for slow ripening grapes of pinot noir and chardonnay; here is home to many of Australia’s most restrained and pure examples. Geelong enjoys a windy, maritime climate but is slightly warmer, making plump Pinot and some really tasty Shiraz and Chardonnay. The Grampians is to the West side of Victoria and lies at 335m altitude and lead the way for cool climate shiraz. Rutherglen is North East of the state and specializes in fortified dessert wines based on raisined Muscat aged in wooden casks, they are super rich and sticky!
New South Wales
New South Wales is most famous for the Hunter Valley, where Australia’s most delicate, age worthy white wines are made. They are picked ealy and are light in alcohol, Hunter Sémillon is delicious for its dry, tight structure and citrus fruit which becomes toasty and soft in texture with age. In great vintages, Hunter Valley Shiraz can be outstanding, medium bodies, earthy notes and very age worthy.
Tasmania is the island south of Australia separated by the Bass Strait and is a wine lovers and fisherman’s dream. It is by far Australia’s coolest wine producing region. Sparkling wines, Riesling and Chardonnay thrive in Tasmania but Pinot Noir can be exceptional with a delicacy which tends to lack from the mainland.
As you can see there are so many areas of Australia with so much diversity and abundance producing many varied, high quality wines! As there is so much to discover, we will take the time to introduce the different regions one by one. On top of that we will give you some tips of which wineries and wines you should look out for. Cheers to that!
This article is written by our own Teri Wheeler. Stay tuned for the next upcoming articles on the best wineries and wines to try from each aussie region.