A Comprehensive Guide To Australian Wines
Some fifty years ago, Australia was only a speck on the world’s wine map, but now, it’s the 4th largest exporter of wine! Don’t know much about wine from Down Under? Here’s a little guide that will have you craving a glass of Aussi vino before you know it.
History of winemaking in Australia
It all started in 1788 when the English planted the first vines in Australia. During the 19th century, the industry was having its ups and downs, with successful years that eventually went to waste. However, around the 1960's, the Aussie wine production really started to grow and improve, and it’s stronger today than it ever was.
Grapes and vines
Australian people seem to be in love with Chardonnay and Shiraz, and they have been planting these vines all over the country as a result. Sémillon and Cabernet Sauvignon take the second place on the popularity chart, with Grenache and Riesling gaining more and more aficionados.
Regions and their star wines
There are almost 400,000 acres of Australian land under vines with about 50 different registered wine regions. Naturally, almost every style of wine can be produced on such a huge area, from Champagne-style bubblies to rich Muscats. Many Australian wines are made with grapes that come from different regions, but lately, producers are focusing more on the strengths of each region. For instance, Shiraz is the star of Barossa, Cabernet Sauvignon of Coonawarra and Sémillon rules the Hunter Valley.
One of the most successfully grown vines in Australia has been Shiraz. Almost all wine regions, especially the Barossa Valley, have many Shiraz vines, some over 100 years old. The Barossa is also home to many small-production wineries of Shiraz that gained their cult status after being reviewed and praised by various famous wine critics. Shiraz also grows well in McLaren Vale. Wine from that region tends to be chocolatey, unlike Barossa Shiraz that have a bold, earthy flavour. The key to the distinct McLaren Vale flavour lies in the old vines, and new oak barrels that are often imported from America.
If you’re into dessert wines, then you also shouldn’t miss Australia. There’s a tiny town of Rutherglen in southern Australia that has been on every wine lover’s map for the past few years. There, eight winemakers produce Muscat and Tokay, excellent dessert wines. Muscat is characterized by its rich taste, and Tokay is beloved by many for its smoothness and fleshiness. These stickers, that the Aussie people call sweet wines, are very potent. In fact, even when they get blended with new vintages, their characteristics can still be felt. Most of the time, it’s hard to describe these dessert wines, so it’s best if you just give them a taste.
White wines of Australia
When it comes to whites, Chardonnay is still king. However, some of the best vineyards in Australia pride themselves on their Sémillon and Riesling. Sémillon is currently the second most popular white grape, closely followed by Colombard and Riesling. Australian young Riesling can be a bit too delicate, but since it has an amazing longevity, aged Riesling is truly an experience.
Aussie’s southern cousin
Tasmania is a place of natural beauties, amazing food and even better wine. This island, some 240 km away from the mainland, has moderate climate perfect for sparkling wines, Rieslings, and Chardonnays. However, Pinot Noir can also be worth a glass, with its characteristic delicacy that Australian wines often lack. All of these wines go hand in hand with the diverse and interesting Australian and especially Sydney gastro scene, so you won’t make a mistake no matter what you choose. Surprise your palate with a glass of Australian vino and you’ll instantly get transported to the land of sun, waves and wine.
You can easily find Australian wine online, it has become a really popular shopping option Down Under, especially if you know what you are looking for.