Australian wine may bring to mind images inexpensive jug wine with animals on their labels… but there’s much more to Australian wine than Yellowtail…
Australian Wine Industry
As of 2009, there were 420,000 acres of vineyards planted throughout Australia that produced upwards of 1.46 billion bottles of wine a year. They are the fourth largest wine exporter on the globe, exporting 60% of all wine produced. Meanwhile only 16.6% of wine sold domestically is imported- meaning they largely consume their own wines. And with good reason, the variety of climates make it easy to grow a diverse portfolio of wines. With so much to learn, let’s dig into one of the largest markets in the world.
Australian wine was not regulated strictly until The Label Integrity Act of 2001. This act created boundaries around wine regions, called Geographic Indications (abbreviated to GI,) which impose rules on the wine grown within those borders; These are comparable to AVA’s for American wine. The varietal, vintage, and GI must be at least 85% accurate to what is stated on the label.
Grapes and Regions
Australian wine regions (GI’s) can be broken into six main production areas. South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. Each of these have smaller sub-regions within them, more suited to certain grapes.
Shiraz is the heart and soul of the Australian wine world, often being credited as the grape that put Australia on the international wine map. Old Vine Shiraz is outstanding- it is smoky, spicy and rich. Shiraz is also often times blended with grenache and mourvedre, the same blend as is commonly found in the Rhone Valley of France.
While shiraz may be the grape that is thought of most frequently in connection to Australia, it is my no means the only grape that flourishes there. Over 100 different varietals are grown across Australia’s 65 geographic indications. Other common grapes red grapes include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and pinot noir. White wine is also produced in Australia, most common white grapes include chardonnay, semillon, sauvignon blanc, and riesling. Together, shiraz and chardonnay make up 44% of the total wine production.
Of all 65 wine growing regions in Australia, most wine is produced in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. New South Wales and South Australia are known for their warm climate varietals including Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, meanwhile Victoria is known for cool climate-loving Pinot Noir. Barossa Valley in South Australia boasts beautiful bold shiraz, where as breezy Margaret River in Western Australia is delicious cabernet and sauvignon blanc territory; Tasmania, the cool island off the southern coast, is a haven for sparkling wine production. In the Granite Belt, the most well known sub region in Queensland, tempranillo and viognier are grown, as well as the traditional varietals. Make sure to try them all, and see how different these wines can be!
Cool Australia fact:
In the 1800s, vineyards across Europe were destroyed by the phylloxera pest. However, due to strict quarantine rules, Barossa Valley and other South Australia remained unaffected- making them some of the oldest vineyards in the world!
Pauline Fink, Staff Writer
Do you have a favorite Australian wine or GI? For more information on wine and spirits, as well as fun cocktail recipes, check out our blog. You can ask us any questions here (on our blog,) on Facebook or in the store. We are excited to hear from you! We also deliver locally, to East Hampton, Wainscott, Southampton, Watermill, Amagansett, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, and Montauk.