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Australia, more than kangaroos and surf

Australia, more than kangaroos and surf, is an exciting place to buy wine. It is a fascinating country, so huge and diverse it is more like several countries in one continent. The wine regions spread from the Margaret River in the west to Hunter Valley in the east not forgetting the island of Tasmania, which represents the same distance as from Rioja to Russia, down to Algeria.

1. What are the key factors that have resulted in Australian wine’s success internationally?‘Brand Australia’ represents a modern new world of wine, cutting edge, easy drinking styles of wine with labels that consumers find easy to understand.

2. Wineries can make wines freely without any restrictions from regulatory bodies, such as the DO’s here in Spain.  This allows producers to source fruit from different regions as required.

3. Also, many of the largest wineries are owned by multinational drinks companies giving them the distribution and financial ability to invest in building brands supported by advertising and marketing campaigns.

During the last 25 years the number of wineries has grown from 900 to 3000, Australia is the 7th largest producer of wine in the world, Spain is 3rd.

Going forward Australian producers are keen the emphasise the differences between the growing regions.  The challenge now is to educate consumers about the regional differences in Australia, the diversity of styles and grape varieties depending on where the vines are grown.

We tend to picture Australia as being a hot sunny country when in fact 24 of its 60 growing regions are cooler or colder than Bordeaux in France.  At the same time the impact of climate change has seen temperature rise more in Australia than in any other wine country.  Drought is becoming a real and ongoing problem in the hotter growing areas such as Riverina and Hunter Valley.

Australia’s flagship grape varieties are Chardonnay and Shiraz, however, you will also find world class Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Semillon and Pinot Noir.  Growers are planting Garnacha and Tempranillo, which is showing great potential, from Spain and Italian varieties such as Sangiovese and Nebbiolo to suit the soil and climate of particular areas.

Here are some of the producers, grape varieties and regions, many of which are available in Spain, to look out for on labels and the grape varieties that grow best in these regions.

Coldstream Hill Chardonnay, Yarra Valley

D’Arenberg ‘The Love Grass’ Shiraz McLaren Vale

Petaluma Riesling, Clare Valley

Rockford Shiraz Barossa Valley

Ken Tulloch Semillon, Hunter Valley

Cape Mentelle Chardonnay, Margaret River

Fowles Chardonnay ‘Are You Game’, Victoria

Written by

I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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