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Home arrow Wine regions arrow Australia

Australia

Australia has a long wine history. Paradoxically, this country has become the archetype of the new world producing country: international varietals, wines brand, constant use of new technologies and flying winemakers (original term designating Australian oenologists consultants), and finally a wine production that meet the taste of international markets. However, Australia has always exported a lot and is now a leader being the 6th largest global wine producer county and the 4th largest wine-exporting country. Technological innovation, competition and exports: perhaps this what Australian tradition il all about.

 

History of wines from Australia

The first vines were planted in Australia in 1788, at the location of the current city of Sydney.
In 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte, who seeks to learn about this new country, learns that Australia is destined to become the vineyard of England.
In 1822, Gregory Blaxland exports the first Australian wines to London.
In 1831, James Busby, a young gardener of Scottish origin, is undertaking a trip to France and Spain from which he brings back 600 grafts vine.
From the years 1840, the Australian wine production takes advantage of the arrival of many European immigrants who bring with them their know-how, while the population increases as well as domestic demand for wine.
From1850 to 1872, exports to England reach 32 000 gallons of wine per year. They reach 50 000 gallons in 1900, then representing 3.5% of all wine imported to England.
By the end of the 19th century, Australian producers participating in various competitions at international fairs, especially in Paris in 1855, in London in 1862, in Vienna in 1873, in Philadelphia in 1875 and Bordeaux in 1882. Some win prizes.
From 1873, the State of Victoria, then the largest producer of wine, is devastated by phylloxera. This promotes the emergence of other regions, including the South Australia.
After the First World War, demobilized soldiers are converted to work in viticulture, and  follows a crisis of overproduction in which the government responded by export subsidies.
Between 1925 and 1960, Australia produces and exports mainly Porto or sherry types oh wine, then in vogue with the Anglo-Saxons.
The years 1950 marked the return of dry wines, red and white, accompanied by a great interest in scientific and technological innovations. At this time, Max Schubert Penfolds produced its first Grand Hermitage.
From mid 1960, producers adopt the best international varietals and new technologies. At the same time, professionals develop a multitude of small areas: wine shops.
During the years 1990 and 2000, exports of Australian wine, supported by the government, are experiencing phenomenal growth. The volume of wine exports increased by 500% between 1995 and 2005.
Today, the main export market remains the United Kingdom, followed by the USA and Canada. In England, the consumption of Australian wines now exceeds that of french wines.


The legislation wines in Australia

The wine production in Australia is regulated by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation. The law is quite simple and essentially regulates the content of labels:

To be marked with a vintage, a wine must contain at least 85% of grapes from this vintage
There is no restriction on the use of varieties in different regions. If a wine is marked by a single variety, it must be composed of  at least 85% of the plantings. If different varietals make up the wine, they must be listed in descending order.
To have the name of a region, a wine must be composed of at least 85% of grapes from this region. The Australian law recognizes different regions and subregions.



Varietals

Red wines :

The red wines from Australia are mainly produced from:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Shiraz
Merlot
Pinot noir
White wines

The white wines from Australia are made mostly from:

Chardonnay
Semillon
Riesling
Muscat
Chenin
Colombard
Sauvignon



Characteristics of wines

For a long time, Australia has specialized in the production of Porto wine. This explains in part the taste of Australian wines for strong alcohol and intense flavors (Michel Phaneuf, l'Actualité, June 1, 2004). Indeed, Australian wines are characterised by a high concentration of flavors and a high degree of alcohol. It remains difficult to define the characteristics of different Australian wines. We also note that the majority of large areas and production are concentrated in the hands of a few large listed companies such as Foster's Wine Estates, (Wolf Blass, Penfolds, Rousemount and Lindemann), Constellation Brands, Pernod Ricard Pacific. This explains the industrial character of many Australian wines.

Otherwise, there are almost as many Australian wines as producers, while the characteristics of each essentially correspond to different varietals and choices of wine. If there are differences in climate and soil, their specificity is not reflected yet clear at the wines produced by each region. That said, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, the government agency responsible for regulating the production and trade in wine in Australia has put in place an administrative structure that allows producers to file applications for specific regions to be recognized for the specificity of their wines.

Seen from outside, Australia appears to be an very large territory. But wine regions are concentrated in only 10% of Australian territory, mainly in the cooler regions of the south coast. Australia has now some sixty wine regions and 103 "Defined Geographic Directions." That said, major areas having wine designations remain the administrative divisions of countries States.

New South Wales, state located south-east of Australia. This is where the first vineyards were planted. One of the regions is Hunter Valley, where viticulture has grown for long because of the proximity of the city of Sydney. Here was founded in 1870 Lindemans, now present in all regions of Australia.

Victoria is the State farther south in the eastern part of Australia. At the end of the 19th century, it produced more than half of Australian wine and had 1200 vineyards. With New South Wales, located just above these two regions generate major fine wines of Australia. Murray River region produces most of the wines of Victoria.

South Australia, located in south-central Australia produces a lot of cheap wine. Since the beginning of the 20th century, South Australia is by far the state's largest in terms of quantity of wine produced. This region is the Australian equivalent of the Central Valley in California. It includes the Barossa Valley region, where sre located Penfolds and Wolf Blass. It also found the Coonawarra region where some of the most famous wines of Australia are produced.

Western Australia is the region which occupies the entire west of Australia. The vineyards are in the south, mainly concentrated around Swan Valley. IEven if the first vineyards were fouded in 1840, viticulture has never been important because of the remote situation of this region compared to the urban centres of the east. Since the 1980's, viticulture there has known a revival and the region is rapidly gaining recognition.
 

Evaluations - Australie

Cliff 79, $11.20
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