The Adelaide Hills has a strong reputation as home to some of Australia’s most elegant cool climate wines. Displaying great finesse and varietal intensity in the glass, the folds and undulations of the Adelaide Hills create a wide range of micro-climates and as a consequence the vineyards tend to be small in area and often steep, meaning hand pruning and picking are a virtual necessity. The diversity of soil type and climate plays host to a range of grape varieties and wine styles. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Grüner Veltliner find a natural home here, together with aromatic red varietals such as Pinot Noir.
The Clare Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions, lying in the mid north of South Australia approximately 120km north of Adelaide. Within this idyllic, romantic terrain can be found some of the greatest names in Australian wine. Considered by many to offer the greatest concentration of premium Riesling in Australia, it is a cool-climate varietal-rich area capable of creating world-beating wines. Here, Riesling, Chardonnay, Fiano, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo are cultivated to name but a few. Clare offers a delightfully modern take, retaining the freshness and structure of the Old World, but also adding a density and richness much more akin to the New. The best of both worlds? We think so!
Coonawarra is renowned as one of Australia’s finest wine regions and is particularly known for producing world class red wines especially Cabernet Sauvignon. Its secret lies in a magical marriage of rich red terra rossa soil, limestone, pure underground water and a long, cool ripening season for the grapes.
The Frankland River region in the south west of western Australia is the coolest and most remote wine-growing region in the country. Mediterranean in terms of its winter and spring rainfall, it has a continental influence with cold nights and warm days that create ideal conditions for growing quality wine grapes. Viticulture arrived here in the early 1970s and has flourished ever since. So very modern in its style and delivery, Frankland allows the full spectrum of cool climate aromatics and flavours to develop on the vine. Lending a delightfully Old World style to that of the New World, this region has so much to offer.
Regarded as one of the best-kept secrets in Australian viticulture, Langhorne Creek is one of Australia’s oldest and most significant wine regions. The area was founded on the broad flood plain influenced by the local Bremer and Angas Rivers and dominated by magnificent River Red Gums. Famed for the production of bold, intensely rich red varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec, Langhorne Creek has also seen a great deal of success with Verdelho, Chardonnay and Fiano. From the region which produced the very first Jimmy Watson Trophy winner back in 1962, Langhorne Creek offers excellent value for money as the region is still largely undiscovered. But surely there is no time like the present?!
Since the first significant commercial planting of vines in 1967, the Margaret River wine region has built an international reputation as a true home of fine wine capable of achieving parity and more with the world’s best. It is hard to believe that just four decades ago Margaret River was better known for its various classic surf breaks, until scientists like Dr Gladstones identified it as a prime location for premium wine production. Highly regarded as a producer of powerful yet elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, the region has also forged a great reputation for its white wines notably Chardonnay and Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends. The region is a vibrant and popular wine destination for visitors from around the world.
About 15 miles due south of Adelaide in South Australia, McLaren Vale was one of South Australia’s first regions to be planted (in 1839); Tintara was the first commercial vineyard, planted in 1862. The red wine boom of the 1960s poured life into a multitude of small-to-medium sized wineries, mostly producing wines from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. In terms of terroir, the region is characterised by a predominantly warm, dry, temperate climate, despite the cooling presence of the Gulf of St Vincent. Good Shiraz and Cabernets tend to be a deep purple in colour, richly extracted with velvety, luxuriant dark berry, black pepper and chocolate flavours. Elsewhere in McLaren Vale, a raft of Italian varietals, both red and white, have been planted with some fantastic results.
The Murray Darling wine region is an important but little known contributor to Australian wine. It comprises large tracts of irrigated land in the south-west corner of New South Wales and the north-west of Victoria. Australia’s two great rivers, the Murray and the Darling, converge just near Mildura and much of the surrounding land has been used for various irrigated crops since the 1890s. Here, a great deal of innovation and experimentation in the vineyard has paid huge dividends for educated and committed grape growers. Value can be found in abundance as can richly-flavoured, characterful wines – a fine selection of which are available here.
The Barossa is undoubtedly Australia’s best-known wine region, encapsulating the sub-regions of the sun-kissed Barossa Valley and the cool climate Eden Valley. Famed for its old vines and bold reds; and from Eden Valley some of Australia’s (and indeed the New World’s) greatest Riesling. Shiraz is the red variety synonymous with Barossa, with producers such as Henschke, Penfolds and St Hallet setting the standard for this varietal in Australia. With a strong European history, Barossa offers wines of concentration, affordability and varietal variation. With a move towards understanding the region’s distinct terroir, the Barossa Grounds project is an ongoing journey to investigate and articulate the diverse characteristics of the sub-regions or ‘parishes’ of the Barossa Valley and their influence on wine style, particularly Barossa Shiraz.