Grapevines were first shipped to Australia from Europe in 1788 on the First Fleet, a group of ships sent from England to develop Australia as a penal colony. Since then, their influence on the wine industry has been impressive, especially considering the country’s relative geographical isolation in the southern hemisphere. A diverse range of microclimates span across the continent, making it an ideal place for the production of wines at all levels of quality and price. As the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world, Australia has secured an excellent reputation through dedication, innovation, and value. The following are the major regions to be familiar with when learning about Australian wine.
This hot and dry South Australian region is known for full-bodied red wines produced from old vines, some of which were planted over a century ago. Shiraz (Syrah) is often barrel-aged and made in an extremely ripe, grandiose style. Grenache, Mataro (Mourvèdre), and Cabernet Sauvignon also play an important role in wines from this region.
South of the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills has a cooler climate. Vineyards are found at a higher elevation here, and the most acclaimed wines are produced from Chardonnay grapes. Fine examples of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines also come from this area.
This region is located northwest of the Barossa Valley. The temperature fluctuation (also known as “diurnal range“), between warm days and cold nights, produces ripe grapes with high levels of acidity. Clare Valley specializes in dry, bright Riesling wines that have exceptional cellaring potential.
The moderate climate of this historic Victorian region is suitable for growing complex, elegant Pinot Noir. High-quality Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines are also produced here.
Located on the eastern coast of the New South Wales region, Hunter Valley is known for dry white wines made from Semillon, a grape usually associated with France’s Sauternes region. The finest bottlings are capable of aging over many years and can display intense flavors when they are fully mature.
Found in Southwest Australia, this region has a moderate-to-warm climate. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines are made in a variety of styles, along with oak-aged Chardonnay and white blends of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Whether you’re new to Australian wines or already an experienced taster, there’s always something delicious and exciting to discover from the land down under!