Essentials Series: Australia
The Australian wine export market is close to 3 billion dollars a year, making it the fourth highest exporter of wine in the world. Winemakers of Australia are known for their innovation in production techniques, as well as scientific responses to environmental issues like global warming and climate change.
Australia wasn’t always a leading force in the winemaking industry. Back in the 1860s, the entire continent was struck with a horrible epidemic of phylloxera, a tiny aphid-like insect that ravages plants, particularly grapevines. Eventually, a cure was found but not before thousands of hectares of vineyards were destroyed. It took almost a full century for Australia’s wine business to bounce back but in 1960, the country’s winemakers made a shift from fortified wines to table wines and started to find success.
South Australia is the largest region, mostly because of the city of Adelaide, and is responsible for about 50% of the country’s total production. The “Old Vine Shiraz” is the wine to drink from South Australia, with its smoky, spicy quality.
The oldest wine-producing region in the entire country of Australia (and one of the oldest in the entire world) is Barossa, which is located in South Australia and contains two sub-regions of the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. This is where the true Australian Shiraz was born and became world famous for its bold blackberry, mocha and tobacco flavors.
Shiraz was actually Australia’s claim to wine fame, as it’s actually known as Syrah in the rest of the world, but the drastic success of the name change led other wine producing countries to adopt it. The Shiraz is Australia’s is one of the oldest grapes in Australia, with origins dating back to the 1700s, and is the most widely planted grape along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The cool part about Australian Shiraz is that it differs based on the region from which it comes. For instance, those from the Yarra Valley are spicy and peppery, while those from Barossa tend to be sweeter and fruity.
New South Wales is another very large wine producing region, historically producing much of Australia’s overall Shiraz and Chardonnay, although many winemakers in the area are working with Tempranillo and Verdelho, which are drought-friendly grapes. You may have also heard of Victoria, a fairly large city near Melbourne, which boasts cooler climates, helping to produce some fabulous Pinot Noir.
A very popular wine in Australia is actually a blend called GSM, which stands for “Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre.” It was born in the Cote-du-Rhone region of France but because of the Shiraz aspect, Australia has adopted it as well.
Australian wines have become a staple amongst the world’s wine production industry. An Australian Shiraz is the perfect red wine for almost every occasion!