Sunday, October 7, 2007

Australian wine producing regions

Wine of south-eastern Australia" on a label means that the wine could come from the majority of Australian wine producing regions, with Western Australia being the exception. This represents 98% of the Australian vineyard areas. These wines (led by Jacob’s Creek) have driven the international export success of Australian wine over the last 15 years.

Australian winemakers use a mix of multi-regional and regional blending. Multi-regional blending uses wines from different regions to make a single wine, whereas regional blending uses wines from different vineyards within a region to make a single wine.

The six states and their major wine growing regions are listed as follows. Most of the wine that is used in the Jacob’s Creek range comes from the major winegrowing regions in South Australia.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The key wine growing regions of SA are:1. Barossa Valley2. Adelaide Hills3. Riverland4. McLaren Vale5. Langhorne Creek6. Clare Valley7. Coonawarra8. Padthaway
Barossa Valley

In 1842 immigrants from England, Germany and Poland established one of Australia's best-known and historic wine regions, the Barossa Valley. The main red varieties now grown are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache and the key white grape varieties are Riesling, Semillon and Chardonnay.

Shiraz abounds in the Barossa, and is probably the wine for which the region is most famous. Riesling is the other classic Barossa variety. The style is quintessentially Australian - quite unlike the European Riesling. The region also produces excellent quality Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Jacob’s Creek flows through the Barossa Valley. The Barossa's first commercial vineyard was located on the banks of Jacob’s Creek, this site is located between the townships of Rowland Flat and Tanunda.

Adelaide Hills
This is South Australia's oldest wine region with vines grown and wines made as early as the 1840's. It is recognised as a premier cool climate region of Australia.

The cool, high altitude vineyards create fine sparkling and still wines of intense flavour, good acid structure, elegance and balance. Varieties grown include Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for both sparkling and bottled wines in the coolest parts; Riesling, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot in the slightly warmer areas; and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz in the lower altitudes.

Riverland
The Riverland receives a great deal of sunshine and this, together with its rich sandy loam soils and plentiful water supply makes up Australia's largest wine growing region. Around two-thirds of South Australia's and almost one-third of Australia's wine grapes, are grown here. Once home to varieties for fortified and brandy production, the region has undergone a quiet transformation over the past decade and now produces premium varietal bottled wines with generous flavours.
The region is renowned for its rich and flavoursome Chardonnay grape, which excels in the warm climate providing generous fruit flavours. More Chardonnay is now grown in the Riverland than the combined total of all other regions in South Australia. Shiraz, and Merlot are also well suited and produce full flavoured wines.

McLaren Vale
Located approximately 40 minutes south of Adelaide the McLaren Vale region is situated close to the sea amongst green pastures and olive groves. The region is made up of a mixture of wineries ranging from new to very old and from small to medium in size.

McLaren Vale has a dry Mediterranean climate and is generally hot, however it is tempered by sea breezes from the Gulf of St Vincent. This climate together with Ironstone and sandy loam soils produce high quality fruit for the production of intensely flavoured bottled wine.

McLaren Vale is known for rich, full-bodied reds from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has also started to gain more recognition for producing Chardonnay, Grenache and Merlot.

Langhorne Creek
Located near McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek is regarded as one of the best-kept secrets in Australian Viticulture. The cooling breezes of the Great Southern Ocean sweeping over Lake Alexandrina help make Langhorne Creek a focus for fine cool climate wines.

Traditionally a red grape-growing region it is known for its production of outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Langhorne Creek reds are renowned for their soft tannins and full-flavoured fruit-driven palates, excellent depth of colour and medal winning quality. This region now also has a large area of high quality Chardonnay and Riesling.

Clare Valley
Situated north-west of the Barossa, settlers from England, Ireland and Poland first moved into the region during the 1840's, producing a rich heritage of architecture and villages which remain largely intact and make it one of Australia's most picturesque wine regions.

The climate of the region provides cool to cold nights and warm to hot summer days. Clare (and in particular the sub-region of Watervale) is famous for Riesling, but the area also produces some outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

Coonawarra
Located in the southeast corner of the State, 400 km from Adelaide, this region has become famous for its red wines and for the Terra Rossa soil from which the vines flourish. The actual wine region stretches 30 km from north to south and is 2-3 km at its widest point.

The combination of a cool to warm climate and the region's famous terra rossa soil that sits on top of well-draining limestone produces some of Australia's most outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Padthaway
Situated near its more famous cousin, Coonawarra, this younger wine region shares the same 'red gold' soil of terra rossa but is significantly warmer and produces wine of great flavour and depth. The principal red varieties grown in this region are Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, however the region is famed for the style and quality of its Chardonnay.

NEW SOUTH WALES
The key wine growing regions of NSW are:1. Hunter Valley2. Mudgee3. Riverina

Hunter Valley
The birthplace of Australian Wine and home to Australia’s oldest continuously operating winery – Wyndham Estate, established in 1828. Nestled under the Brokenback Ranges and two hours drive north of Sydney, the climate is warm to hot through the growing season with high humidity and rain. However, sea breeze and cloud cover that often rolls into the valley in the afternoons provides a moderating cooling effect.
Aged Hunter Valley Semillon and Shiraz are generally what the region is famous for, and the style of these wines are quite unique when compared with many other regions around Australia and around the world. The region also produces excellent examples of Chardonnay.

Mudgee
Mudgee is situated 256-km northwest of Sydney on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range. The climate throughout the growing season is warm to hot, but differs from the Hunter Valley in terms of overall rainfall, especially in summer. For over 150 years wine has been made here and the fruit produced is generally accepted as good quality. Mudgee produces full-bodied reds, mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon and also some excellent white wines from Chardonnay here

Riverina
The Riverina district is one of the largest grape growing areas in Australia. After both World Wars the area welcomed many European migrants, of whom many were Italian, and it is their influence that has shaped the Riverina wine industry. The Riverina is very hot and has the ability to produce high yields, which are possible due to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation scheme.
Summer rain helps to provide the humidity to produce botrytis cinerea (noble rot). It is the sweet wine style from the botrytis-affected Semillon for which the region is famous. The Riverina is planted with Semillon, Chardonnay, Marsanne, Verdelho, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The region supports many wine styles, from medium bodied dry red and white wines, to sparkling and fortified and also the sweet whites.

VICTORIA
The main Victorian wine regions are:1. Yarra Valley2. Mornington Peninsula3. Geelong4. Macedon Ranges5. Goulburn Valley6. Bendigo7. Rutherglen

With more than 20 wine regions in Victoria, only a selection have been described.
Victoria's wine history began in 1838 and Victoria was the premier wine State in Australia until the spread of phylloxera, a change in taste/market demand and the expansion of the wine trade in South Australia stunted growth in the State. However the industry has gone from strength to strength since the 1970's with viticultural regions once again encircling Melbourne.

Yarra Valley
A premium wine region east of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is so close to the outer fringe of Melbourne that there is a danger of the urban sprawl restricting future growth. The climate is cool making it ideal for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay bottled wines for which it is renowned, as well as sparking wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are also grown.

Mornington Peninsula
Directly south of Melbourne and approximately one hour's drive, this picturesque region comprises mostly small boutique wineries. Cool climate also, this region produces excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Riesling.

Geelong
Located west of Melbourne, Geelong was devastated by Phylloxera in the late 1800's but was reborn in the mid 1960's. Geelong remains a small but premium cool climate region strongly influenced by its windy coastal location. The region is famous for some of Australia's best Pinot Noirs, as well as Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Macedon Ranges
Similar in climate to the Champagne region in France, production here concentrates on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, often used as a base for sparkling wine.

Goulburn Valley
Established in the 1850's this region is located in central Victoria and growing Marsanne, Viognier, Roussanne and Shiraz. The region claims to be the 'home of Rhone varieties' in Australia. The climate is generally hot with slightly cooler areas within and is also known for its gutsy Shiraz.

Bendigo
Located in Central Victoria approximately 120 km north-west of Melbourne, Bendigo's climate is warm and dry making it renowned for red wines, especially minty Cabernet Sauvignon and rich berry fruit Shiraz.

Rutherglen
Situated on the banks of the Murray River, close to the NSW border, the wineries around Rutherglen are rich in history. The former gold mining town became a major centre for red and fortified wine once the gold ran out. Today it is Australia’s capital for fortified wine, especially liqueur Tokay and Muscat.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The main wine producing regions of Western Australia are:1. Swan Valley2. Margaret River3.

Great Southern

Australia's biggest state, Western Australia has the country's most isolated wine regions in its southwest corner. Since 1970 the area has undergone many changes with many new regions coming into existence, some of which are described here:

Swan Valley

The wine industry of Western Australia began in this area which is situated on the outskirts of Perth. One of Australia's hottest regions, the major varieties planted include Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and Shiraz. Typically the wines are soft, flavoursome, medium to full-bodied styles.

Margaret River

Located on the coast some 260-km south of Perth, this region, in a little over 30 years, has become a flourishing centre for an internationally recognised wine industry. The climate is maritime with long cool ripening periods and free draining soils, making it ideal for premium quality fruit. Responsible for only 1% of Australia's production, the region makes up as much as 20% of the premium wine market. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon, Pinot Noir and Shiraz varieties have won many accolades and are sought after both nationally and in international markets.

Great Southern

Great Southern is Australia's largest and Western Australia's coolest viticultural region and consists of five sub regions with a range of continental and maritime influences. Varieties that perform well include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.

TASMANIA

Tasmania is a small island with a sublime landscape off the southeast corner of Australia. The climate of the Tasmanian vineyards is cool, ideally suited for the production of superb, tightly structured sparkling wine from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and crisp, delicately flavoured bottled wines from Riesling, Gew├╝rztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, wines notable for their finesse and naturally balanced acidity.

QUEENSLAND

Not surprisingly, due to the warmer and humid climate, Queensland only produces a small amount of wine compared with the other States. However, like other regions, vineyard developments are steadily on the increase. Queensland boasts the closest vineyard to the equator. Vineyards require a high altitude site to compensate for Queensland's hot climate.
The major region is called the Granite Belt. Vineyards are also found in the Roma, Mt Tamborine, Purga, and Amberley districts. Typically the wines are well-flavoured medium to full-bodied styles, mainly made from Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Part content courtesy of the Australian Wine Guide by Clive Hartley.

Now that you know where the grapes are grown, you might like to learn about the different grapes that make up the Australian Red and White Wine Varieties.

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