Australia has one of the world’s largest wine industries and exports over 800 billion litres of wine a year. Australian wine is famous for its quality and the country is especially well known as a producer of red wine. Following is a brief description of some of the Australian wine producing regions.
The bold, big-bodied, robust reds that Australia is best known for are mostly produced from a single variety, Shiraz (called Syrah in Europe), and is the country’s most planted grape vine. South Australia is the heartland of a wide variety of blended Shiraz wines with the regional producers more individual wines that are of higher quality and better express the characteristics of the land where they were grown.
The famed Barossa valley is the site of some of Australia’s first wine plantations and home to some of the oldest vines on earth. Barossa Valley and Eden valley are producers of some of the finest Shiraz wines the country produces. While Barossa wines tend to be stronger in flavour, Eden Valley produces more savory wines that usually feature a lower alchoholic content. Clare Valley, another well known region, produces a wine with higher acidity because of the areas cooler nighttime temperatures. The nearby McLaren Vale region is similar to the Barossa style but has a bouquet with a richer fruit profile.
Shiraz is also grown in smaller regions that that also produce high quality fruit. The historic Swan Valley region in Western Australia and Queensland’s Granite Belt are well known producers of robust Shiraz grapes. In Victoria, plantings around Bendigo, Nagambie Lakes and Heathcote produce highly individual wines based on the winemaker’s style. The ancient soils of the famed Jasper Hill area in Heathcote produce powerful, tightly wound wines that can take years to fully reach their peak while Nagambie Lakes Tahblik vineyard was planted from some of the oldest, disease-free vines on the planet.
In New South Wales, the Hunter Valley (located about 100km from Sydney) is another famed producer of top quality Shiraz which tends to be medium to full bodied with a savory spice flavour with red fruit overtones. Some of the best producers include Tyrrell’s, Brokenwood and Thomas winemakers.
For those that prefer Cabernet Sauvignon as a variety, the richest and most full-blooded come from the Coonawarra region near the edge of South Australia that is located halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne. The terra rossa soil of the region produces Cabernet Sauvignon that is characterized by blackberry and herb flavors with a high level of tannins making them excellent for cellaring.