Australian Wine Regions Of Note

10 December 2015

Award-winning wine writer and presenter of TV show People of the Vines, Tyson Stelzer knows what makes a good drop. Here, he shares his insights and images of the established and emerging Australian wine regions to visit.

 Harvest 2014 in the Jansz vineyard, Piper’s River, Tasmania. (Image: Tyson Stelzer)

In the grand scale of the wine world, the diversity and spread of Australia’s wine regions is nothing short of phenomenal. Were Australia in Europe, virtually every region would represent a different country altogether, with very distinct soils and climates defining unique wine styles. Such is the stretch of Australia that if Margaret River in the southwest of Western Australia were Bordeaux on the west coast of France, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales would be somewhere in Russia and Tasmania would be in Lebanon.

 Assessing the fruit prior to vintage 2014 in the Jansz vineyard, Piper’s River Tasmania. (Image: Tyson Stelzer)

Margaret River

The comparison of Margaret River with France’s most famous winegrowing region is apt. With ocean on three sides, Margaret River shares Bordeaux’s maritime climate and its free-draining, gravelly soils, making this Australia’s most idyllic location for the long-ageing Bordeaux blend of cabernet and merlot and its crunchy white counterpart of sauvignon blanc semillon. Margaret River goes further than Bordeaux and adds powerful, age-worthy chardonnay to its compelling repertoire.

Blessed by the consistency of weather patterns rolling in from the Indian Ocean, Margaret River has been fortuitous to dodge the repertoire of heatwaves, droughts, bushfires and floods that have ravaged grapegrowing in southeastern Australia. Margaret River hasn’t suffered a challenging season in more than a decade, making this one of the country’s most attractive places to grow grapes, and its wines rank among the most consistent and very best.

 Peter Lehmann Chief Winemaker Ian Hongell pruning his Barossa Valley vineyard in winter 2015. (Image: Tyson Stelzer)

Barossa Valley

Much has been said of the challenges for Australia’s warmer winegrowing areas in the wake of global warming, but it’s not all doom for the country’s most famous wine region. Old Barossa shiraz vines, some believed to be up to 170 years of age, have survived many droughts and heatwaves. The deeply coloured, full-bodied style of Barossa shiraz that first put Australia on the world wine map is not adverse to warm summers, and with careful attention to balanced vines and consistent ripeness, the celebrated reds of the Barossa are as impressive as ever. The Eden Valley, the Barossa’s cool high country, is home to a spicier, more perfumed take on shiraz, and refreshingly zesty and age-worthy dry riesling.


Explore Australia drop by drop. Australia's World-Class Wine Country

Savour 24 hours in the Barossa Valley. How To Spend A Day In The Barossa


 Barossa Valley vineyard, autumn 2015. (Image: Tyson Stelzer)

Hunter Valley

There is perhaps no place in Australia as unique among the wine regions of the world than the Hunter Valley. Quite how a climate so warm, frequently with rain at all the wrong times, should produce wine styles so individual and unparalleled is in itself remarkable. A very early harvest dictates the low-alcohol, lemon-accented tang of Hunter semillon, charged with the acidity to age for decades. Hunter shiraz is more elegant and savoury than other parts of Australia, and has recently been blessed with a new lease on life thanks to more careful attention in the vineyards and the wineries than ever before.

 Autumn 2014 in the Tamar Valley (Image: Tyson Stelzer)

Tasmania

Tasmania is arguably the most exciting frontier of Australian viticulture, greeting the world’s thirst for elegant, cool climate wines with a veritable arsenal of refined sparkling styles, tangy aromatic whites, chardonnay, pinot noir and dessert wines. The scale of winegrowing on this small island state and its yield-limiting weather patterns dictate that its industry will always remain boutique. Tasmania is not yet officially segregated into distinct wine regions, but there is diversity of style across the state. Its cool, wet, humid north is particularly well suited to sparkling production, while its drier south can even ripen cabernet sauvignon in the right sites.

 Prue Henschke harvesting vintage 2015 in the Henschke Hill of Grace vineyard, Eden Valley, South Australia. (Image: Tyson Stelzer)

Adelaide Hills

The geographical and climactic diversity of the vast Australian continent makes for a wonderful variety of wine styles from its traditional wine regions and vast scope to experiment with different styles from new and exciting places. In the 1980s, Brian Croser pioneered a new era of viticulture in the Adelaide Hills by planting a vineyard high in the Piccadilly Valley. This century, he has championed South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula by establishing a pinot noir vineyard, which is showing great promise.

 Harvest 2014 in the Jansz vineyard, Piper’s River, Tasmania. (Image: Tyson Stelzer)

Yarra Valley

For the sheer calibre of its wines and its considerable tourism pull on the doorstep of Melbourne, it is surprising to think that the modern era of viticulture in Victoria’s Yarra Valley has only taken off in recent decades. From the warmer valley floor to the cool Upper Yarra, the considerable variation between sites makes this region a triumphant success story for everything from refreshing sparkling wine to fragrant pinot noir and long-lived cabernet sauvignon.

 Autumn 2015 in Marananga, Barossa Valley, South Australia. (Image: Tyson Stelzer)

Australia’s diverse wine regions deliver an exciting array of ever more varied wine style, which make for a journey of discovery every bit as exciting and diverse as traversing the European continent.

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Australia's wine regions.

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