Australia has always proven to be a diverse producer and exporter of fresh produce. However, it must also be acknowledged that the nation also boasts of a diverse range of wines. Wine is produced in every state, with more than 60 designated regions totalling approximately 160,000 hectares. However, Australia’s wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country, with vineyards located in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. The regions in each of these states produce different varieties and styles that take advantage of the particular Terroir such as climatic differences, topography and soil types.
Major grape varieties are Shiraz, Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some varieties have been bred by Australian viticulturists, for example, Cienna and Tarrango.
Although Syrah was originally called Shiraz in Australia and Syrah elsewhere, its dramatic commercial success has led many Syrah producers around the world to label their wine “Shiraz”. About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over recent years many winemakers have been rediscovering so-called “alternative varieties” other than those listed above.
Australian winemaking results have been impressive and it has established benchmarks for a number of varietals, such as Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Shiraz. Moreover, Australians have innovated in canopy management and other viticultural and in wine-making techniques, and they have a general attitude toward their work that sets them apart from producers in Europe. Australian wine-makers travel the wine world as highly skilled seasonal workers, relocating to the northern hemisphere during the off-season at home. In fact, Australia’s most famous wine is Penfolds Grange. The great 1955 vintage was submitted to competitions beginning in 1962 and over the years has won more than 50 gold medals.
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)