When it comes to technical know-how, the
Australians are streets ahead of the peak. Wine was being commercially
produced here as long ago as 1850 but in modern times Australia has
become one of the most successful wine-producing countries in the world.
At the top end of the market, an emphasis
is being placed on more regional wines from places like Orange and
Wrattonbully. Many of the new sites are in cooler areas, where the
grapes provide better levels of natural acidity and aromatics. Australia
built its reputation on wines showing ripe fruit flavors, often
accompanied by noticeable use of oak, and in today's commercial middle
ground, there's an enormous amount of wine being made to a standardized
recipe, all backed up by full-throttle marketing.
The main wine-producing regions are near
the cities of PErth in Western Australia, Adelaide in South Australia,
Melbourne in Victoria, and Sydney in New South Wales. The climate tends
to be hot, so irrigation is often necessary. The vast size of the
country means that the states provide different growing conditions.
Some of Australia's most elegant wines are
made in the relatively cool climate of Western Australia. White wines
from the Chardonnay, Sémillon, Riesling, and Verdelho grapes have been
successful. along with 'Bordeaux Blends' from Cabernet Sauvignon and
South Australia includes the premium
regions of the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, and Adelaide Hills. Barossa
Shiraz is world-famous for its inky, concentrated style, whilst
Coonawarra, with its cooler climate and Terra Rossa soil, provides ideal
conditions for some of Australia's outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
The Adelaide Hills vineyards, situated at 450 meters above sea level,
are proving to be a prime area for Riesling, Pinot Noir and
bottle-fermented sparkling wines.
A great range of wines is produced in
Victoria, including the unique liqueur Muscats. The Yarra Valley
benefits from one of the coolest climates in Australia, resulting in
fine Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Chardonnays, and Cabernet Sauvignons.
Australia's ultimate cool climate location however, is Tasmania. The
island is home to some of the very best Pinot Noirs.
In New South Wales, the lower and upper
Hunter Valley, located north of Sydney, has established itself as an
area of 'classic' wines such as Sémillon and Shiraz. Both of these can
develop with bottle age. The area of Orange is rapidly becoming known
for its excellent cool climate wines while the Murrumbidgee Irrigation
Area (MIA), which produces mostly commercial blends but with a
smattering of extremely good botrytised wines, makes ten per cent of all