READING BETWEEN THE WINES:
Australia is another wine producing country known for its great taste and combined value. While the Aussies whip up several Old World specialties, they always deliver New World charm, style, and unmatched regional character.
Australia is best worshipped for its feisty, spice-full Shiraz. Not far behind are its oaky Chardonnays, sweet Rieslings, and rich Cabs. Aussie vintners are master blendsmen, intermingling some of the most creative and innovative blends on the market. In the past five years, Australia has become the number ten wine producer in the world and has upped its imports to the U.S. by four times.
Wine buffs are so optimistic that they’re predicting Aussie exports will double again in the next five. In other words, look out wine world, here comes Australia!
MAJOR AUSTRALIAN WINE REGIONS
Australia’s wine country prospers mostly “down under,” along its southern expanse. The major regions in Australia are Western Australia (Margaret River, Pemberton), New South Wales (Hunter Valley), South Australia (Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Padthaway, Adelaide Hills, Barossa), Tasmania, and Victoria (Yarra Valley, Geelong, Mornington Peninsula, Goulburn Valley).
The top grapes used in Australia are as follows:
|Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot||Chardonnay|
The Shiraz fruit covers more vineyard than any other varietal in Australia and it’s served its time in Aussie soil since the 19th century. This grape supplies an array of sexy, peppery reds, varying from light and fruity styles to big, bold, well-aging ones.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
Add a dash of Merlot or a dab of Shiraz; the Aussies love to blend their Cabs. Cab and Shiraz blends started off the trend, but as Merlot has become all the rage so have Cab/Merlot blends. Australia’s full-fledge Cab boasts a more subtle character than its California relatives, and is bigheartedly fruity.
After laying roots in Australian soil for more than 180 years, this fresh, fruity, fragrant grape is finally gaining notoriety in Australia, giving Chardonnay a run for its grape juice. The best Aussie Rieslings are bursting out of Clare Valley and Eden Valley.
Always playing with style, Australian vintners are spicing it up a bit when squashing Chardonnays into wine. The range stretches between styles with a rich, buttery, heavily oaked panache to those with a bright, citrusy, and proudly marked “unwooded” flair.
HOW TO ORDER/BUY
The Australian wine label contains most the information you need to know to make a choice — from the grape varietals and to the origin and producer. See the “Legal Quality Code” section below for the labeling requirements. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your server or wine shop dealer.
Just Keep in Mind:
• If you’re new to Australian wines, try the wines for which they’re known. You can’t go wrong with the Shiraz or Shiraz blends.
• If you already know what you like — order your usual Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. Styles may vary a bit, but the basics hold up from country to country.
• It’s not difficult to find amazing Australian wines that rate well for $20-$25 and under. Don’t let the amazing value scare you off!
What Is a Boutique Wine?
Well, if finer is what you’re after — meaning slightly more to even incredibly more expensive — consider one of Australia’s boutique wines. They’re causing quite a stir in the higher-end wine market.
The original boutique wine came out of Saint-Emilion garage, and thus the French dubbed it a vin de garage. For the most part, a boutique wine is:
• “Handmade” without the use of chemical or industrial processes or mechanical aids.
• Produced and bottled in small volume at a small winery.
• An expression of the vintner’s passion for winemaking and a taste worthy accentuation of the local terroir (a wine from any old small winery is not necessarily a boutique; the wine must display passion, distinction, and the best flavor).
How Do I Choose a Boutique Wine?
• As with any wine, choose a boutique wine from the area that makes the style you prefer.
• Decide on the price range you want to spend and ask the wine shop dealer for a recommendation in that range.
CHOOSING AN AUSTRALIAN WINE
Various New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia Producers
|Briar Ridge||Charles Cimicky (Signature) (Barossa)|
|Chateau Reynella (Basket Pressed)||Chateau Tahbilk Shiraz (Goulburn)|
|Coriole Lloyd Shiraz (McLaren Vale)||d’Arenberg (the Footbolt)|
|David Wynn (Patriarch)||Galah (Clare Valley)|
|Henschke Shiraz Mount Edelstone (Barossa)||Hillstowe (Buxton)|
|Jim Barry (McCrae Wood)||Kaesler (Old Vine)|
|Penfolds (Bin Numbers)||Plantagenet|
|Primo (Adelaide)||Richard Hamilton (Hamilton Ewell Reserve)|
|Stanley Brothers (John Hancock)||Stephen John (Clare Valley)|
|Tatachilla||Tim Adams (Clare Valley)|
|Trevor Jones (Barossa)||Warrabilla|
|Wolf Blass||Wynns (Coonawarra)|
Various New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania Producers
|Barossa Valley Estate (Ebenezer)||Blue Pyrenees|
|Canobolas Smith (Mount Canobolas)||Clyde Park (Geelong)|
|Geoff Weaver (Lenswood)||Giaconda (Beebworth)|
|Hardys (Eileen Hardy)||Heemskerk|
|Maglieri||Moorooduc Estate (Mornington Peninsula)|
|Mountadarn (Adelaide Hills)||Orlando (St. Hilary & St. Hugo)|
|Pierro (Margaret River)||Plunkett|
|Richard Hamilton||Salitage (Pemberton)|
|Seppelt (Corella Ridge)||Wise Vineyards (Western Australia)|
LEGAL QUALITY CODES
The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act upholds specific regulations in order to control wine quality and ensure each wine’s origin, authenticity, and style, as well as oversee exporting standards. Food Standards regulates wine labels with regard to:
1. Mandatory label requirements
• Grape varietal or wine style
• Alcohol content
• Quantity of standard drinks
• Allergens (where applicable)
• Name, address of producer
• Country of origin
2. Optional label requirements
• Winery name or brand
• Region of origin