Australia has one of the most dynamic and cutting edge wine industries in the world. Most wineries use state- of- the- art equipment and employ winemakers trained in the latest techniques. Yet, despite this sophisticated wine making, most Australian wines are as outgoing and unpretentious as the Australians themselves. Most wines are also comparatively very good values.
Starting in the 1960s wine makers turned away from producing bulk wine and began focusing on dry table wines. By the late 1990s an Australian style of wine had emerged: creamy whites and soft reds packed with fruit.
Australia does not have a strict system of laws regulating grape growing and winemaking. There are however, regulations that define viticultural regions and govern labeling. If a grape variety is named on the label, 85% of the wine must be composed of the grape named.
The most important white wines are Chardonnay, Semillon, Riesling and Muscat. The leading red wines are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and blends of those two grapes. There are also some good sparkling wines and stickies (dessert wines) made here.
The wine districts of South Australia are near the city of Adelaide and include, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Padthaway and McLaren Vale. More than half of all Australian wine is produced in this state, including many of the country’s best.
New South Wales is in the southeast and includes, Hunter Valley, Madgee and Riverna. The Hunter Valley was the first wine area planted at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Several top Chardonnays and Semillons come from here.
Victoria is south of New South Wales and has several renowned areas. The Yarra Valley, Geelong and Mornington Peninsula are cool enough to produce excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Victoria is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and sparkling wines.
Far to the west is the remote state of Western Australia. The wine districts here are Margaret River, Great Southern Region, Perth Hills and Swan Valley.
Wines from Australia run the full spectrum from inexpensive supermarket wines (like Yellowtail) to wines like Henschke “Hill of Grace” or Penfold’s “Grange”, that are able to compete with the world’s best.
I hope you will be inspired to try some of the delicious wines from down under.
Please join us for our summer wine tour, beginning June 6th with Germany. We’re excited to be able to present these tastings, and I hope to see you there.
Our June White Wine of the Month is The Seeker 2012 Pinot Grigio from the Veneto region of Italy. It’s dry, crisp and features apple, pear and stone fruit with hints of white flowers and almonds. Our Red Wine of the Month is Vinum Cellars 2010 Petite Sirah from Clarksburg, California. It’s deep purple, dense with boysenberry and wild raspberry flavors, juicy plum and bittersweet chocolate.
Wine club members, please come in and pick up your bottles before they’re gone.