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Overview

Australia is one of the most technologically advanced wine regions on earth and has experienced a wine boom in the past decade due to the approachability and quality of its wines. Shiraz is synonymous with Australia-a powerful red with huge fruit, spice and tannins, with as much character as the Aussies themselves. Australian winemakers also blend together different varieties, striving to produce very fruit-forward and well-balanced wines. This country crafts great whites as well; the Verdelho grapes produce a full-bodied wine with tangy acidity and honeysuckle undertones.

Unlike in Europe where the wine producer is often a family with limited acreage, Australia has had, over the last 50 years, a huge consolidation in the wine industry, which has led to 6 or 7 companies of gigantic size controlling 75% of Australian wine.

Of course, there is still a spirit of independence among the Australian growers. While the large producers dominate southeastern Australia (Sidney, Melbourne, or Adelaide), there are still a number of high-quality small growers. In addition, there are more and more new wineries on the western coast, and most of them are family businesses.

Climate

Situated between the 30th and 40th parallels, Australia is a vast country with a variety of regions boasting vastly different climates: in the north, hot, wet tropics lie across the tropic of Capricorn; across the center an arid desert; and in the south a temperate coast that resembles a Mediterranean climate. It is this coastline that runs the length (east-west) of the continent that is ideal for winemaking.

Australia offers 60 distinct wine regions (Geographical Indications or GI's) most of which are scattered across the western, southern, and eastern coasts of Australia. For a wine to bear the name of its GI, it must obtain at least 85% of its fruit from the region. Some of most famous wine regions are: Margaret River in Western Australia; Barossa Valley and Clare Valley in South Australia; Yarra Valley in Victoria; Hunter Valley in New South Wales; and Granite Belt in Queensland.

While the southern coast resembles the Mediterranean climate, there are several factors that influence in the region setting it apart from other vine growing regions. In Australia, most of the semi-temperate regions (where wines can grow) abut big deserts to their north (central Australia), which heavily influence the winemaking. These regions (excluding Western Australia), therefore, must contend with hot winds blowing in off the deserts, which have forced the producers to adapt their winemaking techniques to prevent wines from becoming so high in alcohol that they lose other important characteristics.

View wines from Australia