OMWS Blog Series 1: Why Australian Wine?

OMWS Blog Series 1: Why Australian Wine?

Find out what makes Australian wine growing regions so special.

To many UK consumers, Australian wines are commonly known for their low value / high volume brands. They would be not wrong - according to Wine Australia Market Insights, Australia ships around 85% of wine to the UK in bulk for bottling, which puts Australia as the 2nd largest source of wine imports into the UK by volume and 4th largest by value.  Unfortunately, this has tainted the overall perception of this incredible and unique wine growing country. Therefore, over a series of blog posts, we would like to share with you some of our knowledge as to where and why excellent value premium wines can be found in Australia.

Firstly, to put things into context, Australia is the 7th largest wine growing region in the world, producing 1.2 billion litres of wine each year. With a huge amount of investment into the Australian wine industry, this figure has quadrupled since 1991. The most popular grape varieties grown are; Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. The wine growing regions cover 170,000 hectares in different wine regions across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and some small areas in Queensland. 

Map of Australia wine growing regions

New South Wales

Key Regions & Grape Varieties:

Hunter Valley : Sémillon and Shiraz

The famous Hunter Valley is where it all began for Australian wine. The warm and humid climate produces excellent Shiraz and Semillon wines. However, a balance of rain, cloud cover and gentle sea breezes are required to protect the grapes and not over ripen.

Orange & Mudgee : Chardonnay, Cabernet sauvignon and Shiraz.

Orange region produces distinctive wines and is a perfect growing region due to its geology, soils, climate and temperature. Mount Canobolas is important for producing rich soils and altitude for the vineyards.

 

South Australia

This region produces a large quantity of Australia’s wine, helped by it’s hot and dry climate. It’s the home to some of the oldest vines, which produces concentrated and intense flavoured wines.

Key Regions & Grape Varieties:

Barossa: Shiraz

Barossa produces exceptional, bold and powerful Shiraz wines, packed full of ripe dark fruit and complex flavours. The tannins are grippy and these wines have long ageing potential.

Coonawara (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot)

Famous for it’s ‘terra rossa’ soils, which are iron-rich, red clay soils over limestone, providing unique flavours and structure to the wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape variety in the region, showing bold red and black fruits, tobacco and notes of mint and eucalyptus.

Adelaide Hills 

This region is classified as cool climate, due to it’s range of altitude levels of up to 714m. This allows white grape varieties to be grown here in a fresh, crisp and savoury style. Cabernet Sauvignon is often grown in the slightly warmer areas.

McLaren Vale  (Shiraz, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay)

The Mediterranean style warm climate enables winemakers to produce some outstanding, luscious red wines. The close proximity to the Ocean provides important cooling influences for the vineyards.

Clare Valley  (Chardonnay, Sémillon, Riesling)

Clare Valley is famous for some of the finest, most elegant, dry Rieslings of Australia. The Mt Lofty Ranges provides cooler growing conditions for the vines and there are up to 11 different soil types, including slate and limestone. Wineries are producing some red grape varieties here also.

Eden Valley (Riesling)

Located in the Barossa Valley, the rolling hills are home to some of the finest aromatic dry Rieslings.

 

Victoria

With an overall cool climate, this region has the most diverse and varied growing conditions in Australia. There are more wineries here than any other state, enabling a wide range of wines to be produced.

Key Regions & Grape Varieties:

Yarra Valley  (Chardonnay, Pinot noir)

Whilst the region is predominantly known for it’s exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, producers have begun to experiment with other varieties making the Yarra Valley a innovative and exciting origin for great Australian wine.

Mornington Peninsula  (Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Chardonnay)

A reputation for fine wines, this coastal growing region produces elegant and bright fruity wines. The soft rolling hills and coastal cooling influences provide the required slow ripening conditions.

Heathcote  (Shiraz, Cabernet sauvignon)

Sunny warm summers and cool, wet winters produce bold, juicy, spicy Shiraz wines. The altitude and soils from Mt Camel Range create unique flavour characteristics.

 

Western Australia

The vast region of Australia’s largest state Western Australia, provides many wine regions to explore. Famous for it’s breathtaking views, golden sandy beaches and perfect climate conditions for producing premium wines.

Key Regions & Grape Varieties:

Margaret River (Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz)

With a similar climate to Bordeaux, this region has a reputation for elegant, fine wines and the Cabernet Sauvignons have the ability to age for many years. The coastal location provides cool climate conditions for the production of word-class white wines.

Tasmania

Tasmania (Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot noir)

This beautiful, small wine producing island is becoming increasingly popular for it’s premium Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and sparkling wines. The cool maritime climate conditions, along with long sunny days provide ideal growing conditions for these varieties and preserves their naturally high acidity. The growing conditions are similar to that of Champagne.