The Wines of Australia: An Overview

Although Australia has been producing wine since European colonization, only in the past twenty years or so has the industry had a major international impact.  The Australians seem adept at making up for lost time as recently in Great Britain, Australian wine imports have managed to surpass French imports. Through superior marketing and reliable quality, Australian wine has become a familiar presence in most of the Western world.

The majority of wine from Australia comes from South Eastern Australia. Within this region are the Barossa and Clare Valley regions north of Adelaide, which are known for Shiraz, McLaren Vale immediately south, which is known for Sauvignon Blanc, Coonawarra in the south, which is known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, and Hunter Valley near Sydney, which is known for Chardonnay. In Western Australia is the Margaret River, which differs greatly from the southern regions due to a cooler climate. Although there are many other regions on this vast continent which are producing wine, these are the major regions that will be most familiar to the average wine consumer.

Like all Southern Hemisphere wine producing areas vintage variability is not so extreme as in Western Europe or in any Northern Hemisphere region. The weather is generally good which has proven to be a great boon for the wine-growers. Unfortunately this consistency has led to the misconception that every vintage is a good as the last. This fallacy, no doubt promulgated by the large wine corporations that dominate the Australian wine scene, is slowly being destroyed as smaller growers begin to successfully to export their less homogenous wines. It's important to keep in mind that Australia is a large place and the quality of the various regions' harvest will vary quite a bit. But when compared to a country like France, it's still true that Australia enjoys a more consistent climate overall.

Being a relatively young wine-producing country Australia has an exciting future. As the years pass and the industry grows new regions will be discovered and the preexisting regions will be further refined as growers continue to experiment. Much of what is exported presently is from large companies like Penfolds and Rosemount. Wine produced in these vast quantities is necessarily homogenous as the wine is blended in enormous tanks. This is not a bad thing as the result has been a reliable product that the consumer can buy without uncertainty. Yet, a great deal of the more interesting wines from smaller growers has only just begun to be exported on large scale. Much of what is popular in Australia, such as sparkling shiraz, is rarely seen outside the country. Much of these rarer wines can be found in specialized boutiques in America and Great Britain. Thanks to wine writers like Robert Parker Jr., wine lovers are beginning to demand the less abundant and highly sought after bottlings. What is certain is that the rest of the world has a large appetite for Australian wine and though demand for a certain style of wines can sometimes be a passing fad, Australia has the capacity to keep wine drinkers busy for centuries to come.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.