The month of January doesn’t always yield great weather in the UK and 2018 has been no exception. That’s just one reason why we were pleased to enjoy a taste of sunshine at the Australia Day Tasting #ADT 2018 trade event.
Australia has a reputation as one of the leading New World wine producing countries and as such the industry contributes significantly to the economy. Wine production commenced in the 19th century with many taking the view that the industry really got going in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This led to significant growth through exports in the 1990’s which continues today. As Wine Australia point out, Australia continues to be the most popular country for off trade wine sales and overall production was up 7% to 1.93million tonnes of grapes in 2017.
Australia is big! Vineyards are found all over the country, however many are located around the coastal regions, avoiding much of the very hot climate. Many of the key regions are well recognised such as Margaret River - south of Perth in Western Australia; the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley; before reaching south and east to Tasmania for Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays and across to eastern Australia and the famous “stickies” - dessert wines. The variations in climate and terroir of the different vineyard areas across the country allow winemakers to select the most suitable grape varieties to grow and to establish their own signature winemaking styles.
Think Australian wine and one immediately thinks of Shiraz - and why not - there are some fabulous examples out there.Yet Australia grows a very wide range of grape varieties and if you haven’t yet ventured beyond the excellent Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines then we urge you to explore!
For example, you will find an abundance of very good Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris wines and in addition we continue to see a developing a reputation for New World versions of varieties from Italy such as Nebbiolo, Arneis, Sangiovese and Dolcetto, particularly from some of the excellent boutique producers.
Many examples of these wines were on show at the Australia Day Tasting with over 1000 wines from 41 regions. Held at Southampton Row in Holborn, London, the event was well attended with wineries and their distributors rubbing shoulders with wine buyers and critics.
There were classic and favourite brands represented alongside smaller boutique wineries - we’re sure you’ll see many of these popping up in bars and restaurants across the country soon.
Some of our observations of the day...
- The signature Shiraz variety continues to be well represented from a range of producers across the country, showing a range of styles, quality and price brackets.
- Cabernet Sauvignon remains very well represented, as you might expect, similarly from many regions but our personal preference is probably for those from Coonawarra.
- Traditional Italian heritage varieties, including Nebbiolo, Arneis and Sangiovese, continue to be be popular and are being produced in some interesting styles, making it enjoyable to compare them with their old world cousins from Italy.
- Pinot Noir from Mornington Peninsula is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
- Australian Chardonnay is unquestionably making a comeback, perhaps in a lighter style, after a lull in popularity following previous criticism for becoming overly oaked. The days of ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) are definitely at an end!
The eternal challenges for producers remain - to what extent do they represent a style striving to meet ever changing consumer tastes? Or is the target a recipe to satisfy the palates of mass market wine consumers around the world? Some will succeed in their mission and some will fail.
Our confidence remains in those producers who seek differentiation through their passion for viticulture and winemaking. It can sometimes sound romantic to identify winemakers who for example, focus on fruit led wines reflecting their terroir or wines limited in availability as they are produced from a small parcel of land that captures the right amount of warmth and sunshine to deliver maximum balance of flavours. What is certain is that these producers exist and Australia is no exception. Finding them is the hard part but also a satisfying journey once they reveal themselves. We look forward to sharing these with you.
All in all #ADT2018 was a great way to research the Australian wine market in one place and an afternoon well spent! Keep an eye out for new wines to be added to our range over the coming weeks!
As you know, here at Woodshire Wines we are passionate about our wines and the great winemakers that make it possible for us all to enjoy them. Please feel free to leave a comment on the blog. Indeed if there is a topic you’d like us to blog about or a particular wine you’d like us to consider adding to our range just let us know.