Did You Know?Australia happens to be the largest wine exporter of the New World countries, 2nd largest wine import source into the US, world's 4th largest wine exporter, and the 7th largest wine producer in the world.
Australian wines haven't had a good reputation; however, today the wines from this continent have turned a new leaf. In fact, they've transformed and risen like a phoenix out of the ashes, soaring high enough to compete with classic wines from the Old World countries. Today, Australia is known to be one of the leading producers of quality wine, and what's even better is that they are moderately priced wines (not referring to the iconic Penfolds Grange, which is priced at over $35,000).
Although Australian Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs have had a lower profile, as compared to their cousins from France, New Zealand, and so on, today's western Australian wines are touted to be amongst the finest in the world. They are complex, elegant, and marked by finesse. Australians love their own wine and prefer to drink it, rather than the imported ones. In fact, only 16% of wines sold are those that have been imported. So, there definitely has to be something exceedingly special about them, even though they've been undervalued across the globe.
Best Australian Wines to Try
Riesling is very popular in Australia, with most Aussies preferring to drink this wine during the hot summer months. Australian Rieslings from Adelaide Hills, and Clare and Eden Valleys are known to be some exquisite-tasting, complex white wines. The southern part of the continent is mostly known for its dry Rieslings. This white wine varietal is available from the bone-dry to the sweet variety due to the residual sugar, which is very well-balanced by its high level of acidity. Introduced to the continent in the mid-19th century, Australian wines are mostly bone-dry unlike their German cousins.
: Look for Riesling from Clare or Eden Valley; however, Australian Rieslings are known for their consistency, so it should be overall of good quality.
These dry whites are pungent, crisp, and refreshing. With an intense citrusy, lemony-tart and lime sherbet flavor, and a floral overtone that is distinctive of an Australian Riesling, these wines are very dry. Some burst with the flavors of peach, apricot blossoms, tangerines, stone fruit, and spices. Mature Rieslings have a distinctive petrol or kerosene-like aroma.
Fish such as smoked mackerel, salmon, etc., crab, oysters, sushi, and even poultry.
Also known as Syrah in France and other parts of the world, this wine is the most popular Australian wine across the globe. It is produced from the grape variety―Shiraz, which also happens to be the most widely planted red wine variety in the country. Australia's Barossa Valley is known for its rich and fruity (plum) wines, while those from Central and Southern Victoria are known for their more peppery wines. A medium-bodied wine with medium tannin content, this wine is a must-try.
: Since the flavor and style of Shiraz vary from one region to another, purchase the ones from Barossa Valley to ensure good quality. The Yellow Tail Shiraz is also a good value option.
This easy-to-drink wine is bursting with flavors of blackberry, plums, and peppers, and hints of cocoa, tar, mocha, and liquorice emanating from it. Some may feature stronger notes of pepper, while in others the plum flavors leaps forward.
It goes well with barbecued meats, grilled food, and spicy cuisine, like Indian or Mexican.
The earlier or old Australian Chardonnays weren't so popular across the globe, and probably you wouldn't have expected to see this wine on the list, but it's true; the new age Chardonnays are definitely in! Unlike their ancestors, the new improved ones aren't heavily oaked, overripe, or overly buttery. Instead, they are fresher, citrusy, and are produced from grapes that have been harvested earlier. The Chardonnays from Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley, Margaret River, and Mornington Peninsula stand out the most.
: Avoid Chardonnays from southeastern Australia, because they still offer the older, unappealing varietal.
With a lesser oak influence, this versatile born-again wine bursts with flavors of fresh melons and lime, and notes of caramel, pineapple, etc., that combine excellently with the acidity of the wine. They also have a slight mineral base to them, which gives them an interesting complexity. The flavors of this improved version are sure to pleasantly surprise you.
Cream-based pastas, fish, poultry, etc.
Pinot Noir, as we all know, is a fussy grape that requires the right climatic conditions to grow in. While Burgundy provides the best climate for these grapes to flourish in, Australia has also managed to grow some decent Pinots. The finest Australian Pinot Noirs are known to hail from Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania, and Yarra Valley. This soft tannin red wine is reasonably priced in Australia as compared to the French Pinots.
: A Pinot Noir from Gippsland region is worth a try, if you manage to get hold of it.
Bursting with fruity flavors of plums, cherries, and raspberries in its youth, Aussie Pinots are embedded with notes of mushrooms, dried fruit, tea leaves, and spices. They are lower in alcohol and tannin content. Aged Pinots, on the other hand, offer more earthy, smoky, and chocolaty flavor.
Game birds, mushroom-based dishes, soft cheeses, grilled Mexican food, etc.
With 150 years of history in Australia, these are among the finest and most expensive dry red wines produced across the globe. While the Cabs from Bordeaux region of France are very popular, those from Australia's Margaret river and Coonawarra are also well-known. With a climate that bears semblance to that of the Bordeaux, Margaret River hosts the perfect climate for growing this varietal, so as to produce some of the finest Bordeaux-style red wines that are quite mineral-flavored.
: Look for Cabs from Margaret River or Coonawarra for good quality ones. Like any other wine, the quality differs from region to region.
This highly aromatic wine will sweep you away with its rich blueberry, blackberry, plum, cherry, vanilla, and warm spice flavors. With hints of eucalyptus, cedar, cassis, and cigar, these full-bodied wines are intensely complex, yet have a light fruitiness and juiciness from the fruit.
Dishes prepared in tomato-based sauces, red meats, etc.
Like the famous wine critic Robert Parker says, "... there can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself." So, go purchase some Australian wines, drink them, and find out for yourself how the wines from this continent fare. Try them out with different foods and discover interesting food pairings of your own. Drink, enjoy, and learn!