Australia is a New World wine country with attitude! As diverse as it is intriguing, there’s never been a more exciting time for the perception and interrogation of Australian Wine. A bad Aussie brush tainted most with flamboyantly obtuse examples of Chardonnay and Shiraz in the noughties, but FRET NOT! Unique terroir, typography and soil types are allowing a sense of individuality to prevail, as we’re seeing wine production develop with an intrinsic edge by a passionate wine community full of attitude. With 5 states (South Australia, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania) the Aussies are beginning to produce premium wines from a diverse range of varieties (over 100, did we mention?) and styles.
Key Production Regions: Hunter Valley, Orange
Vines were first planted here in 1791 brought by botanists on the First Fleet, and cultivation has continued to this day. The Hunter Valley has many iconic and ancient sites, particularly those planted to Shiraz. Today the region is still best known for its Shiraz and Semillon based wines. The style tends to be fairly unique for the Australian landscape, with many of the best reds resembling Burgundian Pinot Noir more so than classic Australian Shiraz. Semillon is produced in an extremely distinctive style, fermented in stainless steel and looking fairly neutral in youth. These wines develop in bottle over many decades, with the best showing a remarkable oak aged character and beautiful honeyed notes.
Our Favourites: Clonakilla always
The vignerons of Victoria have been busy crafting a reputation for world-class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. More and more there are plantings of other varieties such as Syrah and Tempranillo to produce beautiful cool-climate examples of these grapes. Victoria is home to some of Australia’s most famous wineries, helped by their proximity to Melbourne. These include the likes of Giaconda, Mount Mary and Bass Philip. Diverse climates and diverse soil types makes Victoria an ideal production state, allowing for versatility and unique expressions of all types, spanning from light, fresh Prosecco through to distinctive and luscious Cabernet blends.
What about Mornington Peninsula?
Beloved for its pristine beaches and gloriously green hinterland just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is also home to more than 50 boutique cellar doors and renowned Pinot Noir.
Our Favourites: By Farr and Koolong of course.
Key Production Regions: Huon Valley, Coal River Valley
Once solely famous for being the Apple Isle, Tasmania is currently one of the most exciting production areas for Australian wine. This represents the most southerly wine making outpost in Australia, and the climate is suitably extreme. Tasmania has a history of sparkling wine production with the likes of Arras and Jansz being world famous. More recently producers have focused on making extremely high quality still wines from these Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Our Favourites: Tolpuddle Chardonnay is the one
Key Production Regions: Barossa, Eden and Clare Valleys, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra
Historically the most important production region for Australian wine, responsible for some of the most iconic and long lived wines ever made. South Australia is famous for its reds, largely produced from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are also some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world planted here, in the sandy soils of the McLaren Vale. More recently there have been numerous younger producers in the Adelaide Hills and Basket Range pioneering the Natural Wine movement for Australia. Riesling also has a long and storied history, with German immigrants planting vines throughout the Eden and Clare Valleys.
Our Favourites: Grosset Hill Riesling and Mount Horrocks Nero D’Avola
Key Production Regions: Margaret River, Frankland River
Extremely isolated on the continent, the wine regions of Western Australia benefit from amazing growing conditions. Margaret River has a similar climate to Bordeaux, albeit with greater sunshine, and produces world class Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Further inland at Frankland River, some of Australia’s best Riesling and Shiraz is produced. Most of the vineyards in WA are coastal, and benefit from the moderating influence of the ocean, meaning that they rarely experience poor vintage conditions!
Our Favourites: Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon