Australia spent millions of dollars to build a brand around Shiraz –Australia’s word for Syrah. However, despite the success, Australian wines have suffered in the people’s minds, often disregarded as “Critter Wines” –referring to the cute animal designs that adorn wine labels. It’s time to dig deeper than the bottom shelf at the supermarket and find out what Australia wine regions are all about. There’s more to Australian wine than Yellow Tail and Little Penguin.
What is Australia Known For?
As you might guess, Australia’s main vineyard produce is Shiraz followed by Chardonnay. The two varieties make up 44% of the total wine production. What the production totals don’t say is that Australia is trying to diversify with plantings of Tempranillo, Sangiovese and others on the rise.
Top Australia Wine Regions
Adelaide is the hub of the largest wine growing region in Australia. A few miles from Adelaide is Barossa Valley, South Australia’s most prestigious growing area. The region is unique because of its isolation from the rest of the world. Phylloxera hasn’t yet infected vineyard soils in Barossa, which means its home to some of the oldest living vineyards in the world.
What to seek out from South Australia
Old Vine Shiraz is definitely top notch, it’s both smoky and rich with spice. Keep your eyes peeled for red blends called GSM: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre –The major blending grapes used in French Southern Rhone wines. Barossa Valley is flanked by 2 famous regions for white wine. Clare Valley produces some of the richest Riesling in Australia and some excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The Eden Valley is known for its very minerally and dry Rieslings. Not forgetting Adelaide Hills home to some of Australia’s best Sauvignon Blanc, and also very impressive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
New South Wales
The major production in New South Wales comes from the inland Big Rivers Zone. This area has historically produced much of the commercial Chardonnay and Shiraz from Australia. However, New South Wales is also home to the up and coming cool climate areas such as Orange and Mudgee producing great crisp whites and elegant smooth reds, as well as the Famous Hunter Valley with its stunning Semillon & Shiraz.
Commercial winemaking in North West Victoria makes up the majority of wine production in the entire region. However, the growing areas of interest are cooler and closer to Melbourne such as Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley, both producing great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Some of Australia’s top producers can be found south of Perth in Western Australia in a region called Margaret River. Where they produce elegant reds based on Cabernet and voluptuous white based on Chardonnay and Semillon.