Margaret River: Shiraz unplugged
Australia, the land "Down Under", has, in the last number of years become a major and exciting force in international wines and is sometimes described as the perfect wine producing country. With its diverse climates, from cold to cool to warm, and a wide variety of soil types, these natural advantages have encouraged Australian winemakers to build on the existing traditions of winemaking, to create wines of quality, diversity and uniqueness.
The major Australian wine growing regions are to be found in the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
We are presenting here a smaller selection of those areas, the wineries of which, we have visited ourselves according to our philosophy to provide first hand personal knowledge.
Margaret River: vineyard in evening sunlight
McLaren Vale: where the vines meet the sea
The Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest, most visited wine region is an easy two-hour drive from Sydney. There are over 120 cellar doors (most of which are boutique operations, producing 500 tonnes or less) to visit, with the best varieties here being Semillon, Shiraz and Chardonnay. The wines reflect the temperate climate, healthy rains and fertile soils, which are set below the dramatic backdrop of the Brokenback Ranges.
The Yarra Valley is not only one of Australia's oldest wine producing regions, but also one of the most successful and diverse, containing large commercial enterprises and small boutique producers. Less than an hour's drive from Melbourne it is perhaps best known for its success with Pinot Noir. Known for its undulating hills, good fertile soil and overall cool temperate climate, the big range of altitudes does make for a wide variation in climate, with the warmest vineyards producing the excellent Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with the cooler areas renowned for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnays.
Just an hour's drive north of Adelaide, the Barossa Valley is undoubtedly Australia's best-known winemaking region comprising 60 cellar doors, from big to boutique and new to heritage-listed.
Clare Valley is well known for its many Rieslings, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Shiraz wines with a rich tradition of family winemaking that stretches back to 1848. There is a significant consistency in style and quality of Riesling wine in this region, which has won national and international renown.The small, scenic valley is less than a two hour's drive north of the main city of Adelaide.
Just 35 km south of Adelaide, grapes were first planted in this region in 1838 and some vines are more than 100 years old. Today there are more than 60 cellar doors, the majority of which are small family-run operations. Famous for producing some of the best Shiraz Australia has to offer, McLaren Vale is arguably one of the premier Shiraz-growing regions of the world. The area's thin soils, limited water, and warm summers harness Shiraz's natural vigour and produce intense flavoured fruit, and wine with a deep purple colour that can last decades in the bottle.
Margaret River is one of the world's great winemaking regions, extending about 120 kilometres north-south from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste and about 30 kilometres inland. The intense Chardonnays, rich Semillons, robust Cabernets or soft Merlots of this region have a reputation for renowned character and quality and have been rewarded with numerous Australian and international awards. A good proportion of the wineries have not only cellar doors but often a cafe or restaurant serving very good food and - of course - very good wine.
McLaren Vale: Shiraz wine hills
McLaren Vale: Red wines in the sunset
Margaret River: Looks nice, but is actually an early warning system against mildew
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