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  • Alexander Smith

First Impressions of Australian wine



So after 10 days, and tasting over 150 wines at multiple vineyards and independently from across South Eastern Australia. I am starting to better understand Australian wine, and, I can say that I am impressed. Actually, more than impressed. Wow, Australia, where have you been hiding?

I thought all Australian Shiraz, would taste, well like Australian Shiraz. So, full bodied, spicy, fruit forward with good acidity. Nope. I was expecting to taste a lot of 'experiments', blends and varietals which just did not make sense. Nope. I was expecting to spend more time in wine cellars tasting wines, rather than being shown the soils and vines where the wine came from.


So if I did not find the above, then what did I find? Passionate wine makers, excited to show off their vines. Single varietals and blends which made sense, 'experimental blends' were kept to a minimum. The buying of grapes is still at large in Australia, with the large wine producers buying tonnes of grapes (I will have a separate post on this) however for the smaller-medium producers, there is pride in producing wines from grapes to glass. As for the wines themselves, I found different expressions of Shiraz, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot as I travelled across the country. A Shiraz from Barossa(spicy) had a different profile compared to Coonawarra(soft) and to the Grampians(meaty). This is true for other varietals as well, profiles in these wines varied dramatically.


Vineyards within South Eastern Australia vary in location, as well as in altitude and proximity to the sea, furthermore the soil plays a significant part on the wines, and can vary from Terra Rossa soil in Coonawarra to Volcanic rock in areas around the Macedon Ranges. I cannot remember the last time I discussed soil, and its impact on the final wine so much. The soil is so fascinating around Coonawarra, they have PHD students writing papers on it!


Highlights?

I will save a lot of the highlights for my main report, however for now I can state that

Australia produces some of the best wine in the world.

Now, before you all go out and buy every Australian wine you see, you should note, not all Australian wine is created equally. There is still a large amount of bulk wine produced. So be cautions. However some larger producers, do produce fantastic wine; Penfolds, one of the largest wine producers in Australia, still continues to produce some world class wine, their Grange, Bin 389, St Henry and RWT to name a few, are consistently getting better and better. On the smaller scale, I found some smaller producers, producing some equally world class wines, which you will not want to miss. Henschke, Wynn's, By Farr and Bindi to name a few. These wineries should be on your radar, since they do not just produce wine but are in the vineyards with the vines day in and day out. I never though I would see this in Australia.


Henschke Julius Riesling - One of the top Rieslings in Australia

Bottom Line

Australia is such an exciting region right now, the majority of the wines tasted were elegant, well balanced and showcasing the terroir they came from. You will always find bulk produced wine across the world, Australia is no different. However with just a little research you will find world class quality from this fascinating wine producing country.

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