Like New Zealand, Australia produces some pretty fantastic wine by international standards. This part of the world is known as ‘new world’ in the wine industry, meaning wines produced outside the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe and the Middle East… but that doesn’t mean they are in any way playing catch up! We’ve previously posted a lowdown on the Kiwi wine industry, including what’s best and from which region, and what we’re famous for, but what of our westerly cousin?
Last year, Australia actually had the most awarded wine in the world - a spectacular feat by all standards in such a saturated global market! The World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists (WAWWJ) named the 2014 Jaraman Shiraz from Taylors Wines the winner of over 700,000 other wines in terms of how many awards the drop has managed to win… and it’ll only set you back about $35.
But enough of that! Aside from the Jaraman, what are the general rules of thumb when it comes to Aussie wine?
The Shiraz, mate
Known as the iconic Australian grape, Shiraz (also Syrah) was one of the first varieties brought to Australia by the European settlers. Still using some of the original vines planted in the 1840s, these shiraz vines are the oldest in the world. Not bad for a ‘new world’ producer!
Australian Shiraz is a big flavour, which may take some getting used to. It’s a very full-bodied wine, usually tasting of pepper, berry, plum, and chocolate. Because of its strong flavours, it’s best with gamey meats like venison and lamb, beef, and flavourful spiced dishes.
Aussie Chardy - the trailblazer
Australian producers began producing heavily oaked Chardonnay in the early 1990s to meet consumer demand, but it has had the unfortunate hangover of a well-worn trend. Very oaky, buttery Chardonnay styles were produced for years, and people familiar with the style often avoid the variety, believing it to have the less desirable flavours of the 90s.
These days, both oaked and unoaked (fresher-tasting) Chardonnay is on the market, and in terms of production, Australia regularly produces some of the world’s best. If you’re a red wine drinker, it’s also a good place to start if you want to expand your palate into whites, as they tend to be a lot heavier than other white styles.
Not all varietals are created equal
Especially in a rocky desert of a continent! Due to Australia’s (mainly) dry climate and the huge variation in geography thanks to its relatively huge size, there are too many wine-producing regions to name here - about 60, in fact. What is great, though, is that thanks to this variance in natural growing conditions, some region/varietal combinations are safe bets, as some grapes grow particularly well in those climates. Below is a list of the typical wines of each major region, and what you can expect from the bottles you get your hands on.
We hope you’ve learned something in this trip across the Tasman, and get stuck into some great Aussie vino.
Just in case you aren’t a Champagne pro, we’ve compiled a handy list of hints to up your game – with plenty of time before the festive season kicks off this year to get you into the groove!
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