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 Editorial  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of ABC Wine column Wine Tasting 
  ABC Wine Issue 24, November 2004   
South AustraliaSouth Australia  Contents 
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South Australia

The most famous wine area of Australia, which is found in the neighboring area of the wine city Adelaide, is renowned for its red wines and here it is being produced more than the half of all Australian wine

 One of the wine producing countries of the world which was capable of transforming its enological production, from low quality and ordinary wines to high quality wines, certainly is Australia. This enological “miracle” was possible thanks to the huge economic investments done by producers as well as to the introduction and development of modern technologies. Most of the wineries make use of very advanced technological tools and benefit from the help of wine makers capable of applying modern techniques. Whereas in other wine countries - in particular the ones in Europe - the traditional factor seems to play a fundamental role in the production of wine, most of the times limiting and conditioning the development, in Australia, thanks to the recent enological history of the country, technology and innovation practically have no obstacles. Even the common practices done in the vineyards are conducted in an automatized way, from pruning to harvesting. This probably explains the reason why good quality Australian wines have a pretty affordable price.


South Australia
South Australia

 Until the half of the last century, Australian wine was pretty ordinary and with no particular value, they usually were sweet or very alcoholic wines, most of the grapes were used for the production of fortified wines. The revolution of Australian wines began in the 1960's when the wine industry of the country strongly concentrated in the quality of its products by relying this radical change to international grapes and in particular to Shiraz (Syrah), Chardonnay and Sémillon. Around the half of the 1980's Australia already reached most of its goal and its “new” wines became famous all over the world. What mainly impressed of Australian wines were its concentrated and full bodied reds as well as whites produced with Chardonnay and Sémillon. In just a little more than twenty years Australia was capable of transforming its wine industry while abandoning a practically anonymous past and therefore occupying relevant positions in the worldwide scenario.

 The first vineyards in Australia were planted in New South Wales at the end of eighteenth century, however the enological development of the country was concentrated in the South Australia area along the coast of Indian ocean. This area is located in the neighboring of Adelaide - considered as the capital city of Australia - and here are found among the most famous wine areas of the country: Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Padthaway and Coonawarra. Of course they are not the only wine areas of the country and South Australia is not the only region in which wine is being produced, however it is right here more than the half of the Australian wine is being produced.

 

Classification of South Australia

 Australia does not have a quality system based on specific laws, as in case of France and Italy. There are no strict indications on cultural and enological practices to be followed, such as the variety of grapes allowed in a specific region, yields, norms for wine making and minimum aging times. The Australian quality system provides specific norms about the labeling of wines, norms which are, of course, in force in South Australia as well. Among the most significative rules about wine labeling are mentioned: in case a grape variety is stated in the label, the wine must be produced with at least 85% of that grape; in case a wine is a blend of two wines and none of them make the 85% of total, both the names of grapes must be mentioned in the label and in order of importance; blended wines must state the percentages of grapes used in the blend; in case an area, district or region is mentioned in the label, 85% of the wine contained in the bottle must come from the stated area.

 

Production Areas


 

 Despite the fact South Australia is pretty vast, the area in which it is being produced wine is pretty small and is located in the southern part, in the neighboring of the ocean coast near the city of Adelaide. For this reason Adelaide is considered as the wine capital city of Australia and not very far from it are found the important wine areas of Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Valley. Southern Australia is mainly famous for its full bodied red wines produced with Shiraz grapes, moreover the production of white wines made of Chardonnay, Riesling and Sémillon grapes is interesting as well. South from Adelaide is located another area of enological interest, Coonawarra, which is recently getting more and more famous in the world for its Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Of all the wine areas in Southern Australia two are particularly known and identify Australian wine in the world: Barossa Valley and Coonawarra. Barossa Valley is mainly known for its full bodied red wines made of Shiraz grape whereas Coonawarra is considered as the best Australian region for Cabernet Sauvignon. The quality of wines made in this region is very interesting and of good value, however here it is also produced a huge quantity of ordinary and cheap wines, in particular in the vineyards along the course of Murray river.

 

Barossa Valley

 The center of the Australian wine production is found in Barossa Valley. This certainly is the most renowned wine area of the region as well as of the country, by many considered the best wine region of Australia. Barossa Valley is located 60 kilometers north-east from Adelaide (about 40 miles), its climate generally is warm and dry, however the area also benefits from the hills located to the east capable of ensuring a pretty cool climate and suited for viticulture. The main white berried grapes cultivated in this region are Chardonnay, generally vinified in American oak barriques, just like Shiraz, Riesling and Sémillon. To these are also included Palomino and Pedro Ximénez used for the production of fortified wines, a wine style belonging to the tradition and to the history of Barossa Valley. The most famous wines of this area are red and mainly produced with Shiraz grape. Other red berried grapes cultivated in Barossa Valley and occasionally used together with Shiraz, are Grenache Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre, here known as Mataro.

 

Clare Valley

 Clare Valley is located north from Barossa Valley, is characterized by a cooler climate and therefore suited for the production of white wines, in particular with Riesling grapes. Clare Valley certainly is one of the wine regions from which are being produced among the best Rieslings of the world, wines capable to even compete with the elegance and finesse of German ones although having their own personality. As opposed to German Rieslings, the ones produced in Clare Valley have a fuller body, lesser acidity and am interesting range of organoleptic qualities, both aromatic and gustatory, which gives them a specific and typical personality. Just like every quality Riesling wine, even the ones from Clare Valley have an interesting potentiality of aging in bottle which can also be more than 20 years. Quality wines from Riesling grape produced in this area should be consumed at least after 5 years of aging in bottle. The Riesling is known in this area as Rhine Riesling and it should be observed that once the grape Crouchen, from which were being produced ordinary wines, was called Clare Rhine Riesling and, of course, has no connection with real Riesling.

 

Southern Vales and McLaren Vale

 The wine region of Southern Vales is located south from the city of Adelaide and includes some districts of which the most famous one is McLaren Vale. In this region are being produced both white wines and red wines and the main white berried grapes are Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Among red berried grapes there are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Grenache Noir. In this region are also cultivated Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Sémillon as well as Pinot Noir and Merlot. The main red wines of Southern Vales certainly are the ones produced with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The region is particularly known for its main district, McLaren Vale, who made this region famous all over the world thanks to its white wines produced with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In the south-eastern part of Southern Vales is located the Longhorne Creek wine area from which comes huge quantities of grapes used for the production of blended wines.

 

Eden Valley

 The wine area of Eden Valley is located east from Barossa Valley and north-east from the city of Adelaide. It is a pretty interesting area and here are being produced both white and red wines. Eden Valley is considered, after Clare Valley, the second great wine area in which are being produced white wines with Riesling grape. Differently from Clare Valley, this area is located at a higher altitude and it is characterized by a cooler climate, a condition which makes the area interesting for the production of red wines from Pinot Noir and white wines from Chardonnay. Riesling wines produced in Eden Valley are generally characterized by a lower alcohol percentage as well as having an aromatic bouquet resembling flowers instead of fruits, as in the case of Clare Valley. Even quality Riesling produced in this area are very suited for the aging in bottle, a condition which enriches them with toasted aromas.

 

Adelaide Hills

 East from the city of Adelaide, and south from Eden Valley, is located the wine area of Adelaide Hills, a pretty interesting area which mainly owes the quality of its wines to the hillside position. The development of this area is pretty recent and most of vineyards were planted in 1980's and 1990's. Adelaide Hills is among the coolest areas in Australia and here acidity of grapes reach pretty high levels and most of the times producers favor malolactic fermentation in order to smooth their white wines. Thanks to its cool climate, Adelaide Hills is pretty suited to the production of sparkling wines as well as white wines produced with Sauvignon Blanc. The area is however very appreciated for its white wines produced with Chardonnay and Merlot red wines seem to be pretty promising.

 

Coonawarra

 The wine area of Coonawarra - meaning honeysuckle in Aboriginal language - is located about 450 kilometers south-east from Adelaide (about 280 miles), near the region of Victoria. This area is mainly famous for its full bodied and rich Cabernet Sauvignon wines and the best vineyards are planted in a narrow strip of territory about 16 kilometers long (10 miles). The main characteristic of this tiny area is represented by the type of soil of limestone origins where in its surface is found a porous and reddish soil called terra rossa. The success of Coonawarra wines it is not only determined by the type of soil but also by its cool climate. The most famous wines of the area are reds produced with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Among red berried grapes cultivated in Coonawarra are also found small quantities of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The most famous white berried grape is Riesling, however here are also cultivated Chardonnay - with which are being produced the most appreciated wines of the area - Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc.

 

Padthaway

 Not far to the north from Coonawarra is located the small wine area of Padthaway, an area that has become successful just after Coonawarra and which is famous for its white wines. The main white berried grapes of this area are Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer, whereas the most common red berried grape is Shiraz. The area is mainly oriented to the production of white wines and it is particularly famous for its Chardonnay wines. The climate of Padthaway is slightly warmer than Coonawarra and pretty suited to the production of white wines. Chardonnay wines from Padthaway are characterized by good acidity with a fruity and fresh bouquet.

 




 Editorial  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of ABC Wine column Wine Tasting 
  ABC Wine Issue 24, November 2004   
South AustraliaSouth Australia  Contents 
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