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Australia As A Wine Making Region

Aug 17, 2007
Over the last twenty years, Australia has become the world's fourth largest wine producer with exports to over a hundred countries and is known for its uniqueness and quality. The largest importer of Australian wines until this year was the United Kingdom followed by the United States. In 2007, the United States overtook the United Kingdom as the primary importer of Australian wines. Australian wine exports mainly comprise the products of large commercial vineyards which competed with other wines on quality for price. Certainly, fine, higher priced wines are also exported from smaller vineyards as well as the larger vineyards; however they do not have a high market share.

One of the most interesting aspects of Australian wines is the diversity of flavours as a result of the influence of soil and climate on a number of grape varieties. This is due to the size of the continent and the fact that grapes are grown in many diverse areas. Australians are very fortunate in that even the less expensive wines tend to be good. The quality of the grape stock combined with the skill and experience of Australia's wine makers has produced a wide variety of Australian wine styles of superb quality.

Australia has a long history of wine making which began from plantings imported from Europe and was primarily created for export to England. European grape production is said to have begun in 1791 when grapes were harvested from vines in the Governor's garden. Between 1820 and 1840, many vineyards were established around the country. In 1822, Gregory Blaxland shipped 136 litres of wine to London where it was awarded a Silver Medal by the Royal Society of Arts.

These days, Australia boasts about sixty wine producing regions, most of them being in the south east of the country where the climate is cooler. However, it is possible to find viable vineyards in other parts of the country. The most popular wine growing areas are in South Australia (Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and Coonawarra being the most well known), Victoria (Rutherglen, Swan Hill and Yarra Valley are good examples) and New South Wales (Hunter Valley, Mudgee and the Riverina are the main producers). Most of Australia's wine comes from these areas; however Tasmania, Queensland and the south west of Western Australia (particularly the Margaret River and Swan Districts) also produce some well known brands.

Australian wines are usually named for their grape variety. The most popular varieties of red wine in Australia are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Merlot and for white wine are Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer, Verdhelo and Semillon. Wine makers also create a number of blends from these popular varieties. While these are the most popular Australian wines, there are certainly a great many more varieties that have their adherents.

Four major conglomerates produce seventy percent of Australia's wines: Beringer Blass, The Hardy Wine Company, Southcorp, and Orlando. These companies produce the most well known and successful export brands of Australia: Jacob's Creek, Nottage Hill, Banrock Station, Hardy's Stamp, Lindeman's, and Wolf Blass. Successful though these brands undoubtedly are, there is a growing increase of complaints from wine connoisseurs that among the big brands it is becoming difficult to tell one wine from the other. Such complaints are not likely to be heard from ordinary people who are seeking a good quality wine for a reasonable price which, quite frankly, is the intention of the wine makers. They are not trying to fill the fine wine niche. Nevertheless, there are other excellent Australian brands that manage to do both. These include Peter Lehmann, McGuigan, St Hallett, Yalumba, Cape Mentelle, and Wynn's.

Australian wines offer good quality at affordable prices as well as superb quality for much higher prices. It is an industry that is evolving, developing and improving continually. If you plan to visit Australia, taking a tour of one of the many wine growing districts can be a highlight. In the meantime, you can get a taste of Australia when you sip an Aussie wine.
About the Author
http://www.essentialwines.co.uk/ deliver quality wines direct to your door, including red wines from Australia, Burgundy, Italy and Spain.
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