History of Australia wine

January 24, 2012 · Posted in Australia & Pacific · Comment 

Vine cuttings from the Cape of Good Hope were brought to the penal colony of New South Wales by Governor Phillip on the First Fleet (1788).[9] An attempt at wine making from these first vines failed, but with perseverance, other settlers managed to successfully cultivate vines for winemaking, and Australian made wine was available for sale domestically by the 1820s.[10] In 1822 Gregory Blaxland became the first person to export Australian wine, and was the first winemaker to win an overseas award.[11] In 1830 vineyards were established in the Hunter Valley.[9] In 1833 James Busby returned from France and Spain with a serious selection of grape varieties including most classic French grapes and a good selection of grapes for fortified wine production.[9] Wine from the Adelaide Hills was sent to Queen Victoria in 1844, but there is no evidence that she placed an order as a result. The production and quality of Australian wine was much improved by the arrival of free settlers from various parts of Europe, who used their skills and knowledge to establish some of Australia’s premier wine regions. For example, emigrants from Prussia in the mid 1850s were important in establishing South Australia’s Barossa Valley as a winemaking region.

Early Australian winemakers faced many difficulties, particularly due to the unfamiliar Australian climate. However they eventually achieved considerable success. “At the 1873 Vienna Exhibition the French judges, tasting blind, praised some wines from Victoria, but withdrew in protest when the provenance of the wine was revealed, on the grounds that wines of that quality must clearly be French.”[12] Australian wines continued to win high honours in French competitions. A Victorian Syrah (also called Shiraz) competing in the 1878 Paris Exhibition was likened to Ch”teau Margaux and “its taste completed its trinity of perfection.”[12] One Australian wine won a gold medal “first class” at the 1882 Bordeaux International Exhibition and another won a gold medal “against the world” at the 1889 Paris International Exhibition.[12] That was all before the destructive effects on the industry of the phylloxera epidemic.

In the decades following the devastation caused by phylloxera until the late 1970s, Australian wine production consisted largely, but not exclusively, of sweet and fortified wines. Since then, Australia has rapidly become a world leader in both the quantity and quality of wines it produces. For example, Australian wine exports to the US rose from 578,000 cases in 1990 to 20,000,000 cases in 2004 and in 2000 it exported more wine than France to the UK for the first time in history.

The industry has also suffered hard times in the last 20 years. In the late 1980s, governments sponsored growers to pull out their vines to overcome a glut of winegrapes. Low grape prices in 2005 and 2006 have led to calls for another sponsored vine pull.[13] Cleanskin wines were introduced into Australia during the 1960s as a means to combat oversupply and poor sales.

In recent years organic and biodynamic wines have been increasing in popularity, following a worldwide trend. In 2004 Australia hosted the First International Biodynamic Wine Forum in Beechworth, Victoria which brought together biodynamic wine producers from around the globe. Despite the overproduction of grapes many organic and biodynamic growers have enjoyed continuing demand thanks to the premium prices winemakers can charge for their organic and biodynamic products, particularly in the European market.

The Australian Wine Industry is the fourth largest exporter of wine around the world, with 760 million litres a year to a large international export market and contributes $5.5 billion per annum to the nation’s economy. Australian wine accounts for a very large imported wine market share in South Asian countries and is the second largest imported wine in India with a market share of 16%.[1] There is also a significant domestic market for Australian wines, with Australians consuming nearly 500 million litres of wine per year. Wine is produced in every state, with more than 60 designated wine regions totaling approximately 160,000 hectares; however Australia’s wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country, with vineyards located in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia. The wine regions in each of these states produce different wine varieties and styles that take advantage of the particular Terroir such as: climatic differences, topography and soil types. With the major varieties being predominantly Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. Wines are often labeled with the name of their grape variety, which must constitute at least 85 percent of the wine. The wine industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy through production, employment, export and tourism.

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Where Shiraz originates

November 28, 2011 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

Syrah has a long documented history in the Rhne region of Southeastern France, and it was not known if it had originated in that region. In 1998, a study conducted by Carole Meredith’s research group in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at University of California, Davis used DNA typing and extensive grape reference material from the viticultural research station in Montpellier, France to conclude that Syrah was the offspring of the grape varieties Dureza (father) and Mondeuse Blanche (mother).

Dureza is a dark-skinned grape variety from the Ardche region in France that has all but disappeared from the vineyards, and the preservation of such varieties is a speciality of Montpellier. Mondeuse Blanche is a white grape variety cultivated in the Savoy region, and is still found in very small amounts in that region’s vineyards today. Both varieties are somewhat obscure today and have never achieved anything near Syrah’s fame or popularity, and there is no record of them ever having been cultivated at long distances from their present home. Thus, both Syrah’s parents come from a limited area in southeastern France, very close to northern Rhne. Based on these findings, the researchers have concluded that Syrah originated from northern Rhne.

The DNA typing leaves no room for doubt in this matter, and the numerous other hypotheses of the grape’s origin which have been forwarded during the years all completely lack support in form of documentary evidence or ampelographic investigations, be it by methods of classical botany or DNA.

Instead, they seem to have been based primarily or solely on the name or synonyms of the variety. Because of varying orthography for grape names, especially for old varieties, this is in general very thin evidence. Despite this, origins such as Syracuse or the Iranian city of Shiraz have been proposed.

The parentage information does however not reveal how old the grape variety is, i.e., when the pollination of a Mondeuse Blanche vine by Dureza took place, leading to the original Syrah seed plant. In the year AD 77, Pliny the Elder wrote in his Naturalis Historia about the wines of Vienne (which today would be called Cte-Rtie), where the Allobroges made famous and prized wine from a dark-skinned grape variety that had not existed some 50 years earlier, in Virgil’s age.[7] Pliny called the vines of this wine Allobrogica, and it has been speculated that it could be today’s Syrah. However, the description of the wine would also fit, for example, Dureza[2] and Pliny’s observation that the vines of Allobrogica was resistant to cold is not entirely consistent with Syrah.

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Australian Wine to the world

November 23, 2011 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

The total numbers of wine producers in Australia have increased from 1625 to 2299 between 2003 and 2011.The Australian wine industry has a major share in the Australian economy. Australia is the fourth largest producer of wine in the world with an international export market of over 400 million liters annually, in addition to an equivalent domestic market.

A first attempt failed, but with determination, other settlers managed to successfully cultivate vines. As a result, Australian wine was available for sale domestically by the 1820s, and began to be exported from 1822. The production and quality of Australian wine was much improved by the arrival of free settlers from various parts of Europe, who used their skills and knowledge to establish some of Australia’s premier wine regions. Cleanskin wines were introduced into Australia during the early 2000s. Intake of wine in Australia has greatly increased since the introduction of cleanskins and many cleanskin varieties are now sold as cheaply as beer. In recent years organic and biodynamic wines have been increasing in popularity, following a worldwide trend.The beginnings of the Australian wine industry go as far back 1788 when vine cuttings from South Africa were brought to Australia by Governor Phillip. A first attempt failed, but with determination, other settlers managed to successfully cultivate vines.

www.curtisfamilyvineyards.com Being one of the top wine producers in the world, Australia’s wine industry has become a massive help to country’s economy. Because of the trend, Australian wines are no longer confined to bars and wineries in the country. These wines have made its way to the European market and can even be found in famous restaurants across Europe and other parts of the world. With this, the Australian wine trend will surely continue in years to come.

Grapes: The main grape varieties in Australia are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Smillon, and Riesling. Vitis vinifera varieties came from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th century. Some varieties like Cienna and Tarrango have been cultivated by Australian viticulturalists. Commercial winemakers in Australia use about 130 different grape varieties. Of late many winemakers have begun using varieties from France, Italy and Spain like Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier.

Producer Groups: The top 5 wine making groups according to the latest surveys include: The Foster’s Group, Hardy Wine Company, Casella Wines, Orlando Wines & McGuigan Simoen Wines. A list of the major wine companies in Australia and their associated wineries with ranking can be found below:

1. Foster’s Wine Estates: Wolf Blass, Wynns, Penfolds, Rosemount, Lindemans

2. Constellation Brands: Hardy Wine Company, Houghton Wine Company.

3. Pernod Ricard Pacific: Orlando Wines, Richmond Grove Wines

4. Casella Wine, Yellow Tail

Taylors Wines (known as “Wakefield Wines” in the US and UK)

5. McGuigan Simeon Wines

6. De Bortoli

7. Yalumba Wine Company



1. Penfolds Grange has become Australia’s most famous wine .Wine critic Hugh Johnson has called Grange the ‘only first growth of the southern hemisphere’. The influential Robert M. Parker, Jr., wine critic, well known for his love of Bordeaux wines, has declared that Grange “has replaced Bordeaux’s Ptrus as the world’s most exotic and concentrated wine”. Penfolds have produced wines of remarkable quality for over a century and a half. They are recognized leaders in the development of modern Australian fine wine. Penfolds Grange Hermitage in 1951 brought changes in the scene of Australian fine wine. Since then, Penfolds have come out with a series of standout wines; both red and white. Two versions of Grange came out in 1953, one 87% Shiraz and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, the other 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The quantity of Penfolds Grange produced is a carefully guarded secret. The first vintage of Penfolds Grange was made by winemaker Max Schubert in 1951 after learning wine-making techniques in Bordeaux. He then created a red wine equal to the finest Bordeaux wines in quality and ageing potential. Bottles of the 1951 vintage are sold at auctions as much as A$ 50,000. Australia’s 850 or so wineries produce only a third of what is produced in California. The reasonably priced, excellent wines are appreciated across the whole world. Chardonnay is now the third most popular wine after Shiraz. Cabernet Shiraz the Australian counterpart of the French Syrah grape from the northern Rhne Valley has also received good reviews.

2. Wolf Blass , established in 1966 , is a leading winemaker of the Foster’s group .They are , based in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. Their winery, the largest winery in the Barossa Valley ,has won many awards and it has substantial exports to the United Kingdom.

3. Lindemans, also from The Foster’s Group was founded in 1843 by Henry Lindeman, who planted its first vines in New South Wales. This winery now has vineyards in Padthawayand at Karadoc ,South Australia. Bin 65 chardonnay of Lindemans is Australia’s top white-wine export .Its five consecutive vintages have been named “best buys” by The Wine Spectator, a consumer magazine.In his newsletter The Wine Advocate.Robert M. Parker, Jr. has called it “one of the three or four finest chardonnay values in the world”

4. Rosemount is based in Hunter Valley and South Australia. Started in 1969 by Bob Oatley , it was Australia’s largest family owned winery. In 2005 it was bought out by the Foster’s Group. Rosemount’s first product was a Chardonnay-Smillon labeled as Pinot Riesling.

5. Hardy Wine Co is the world’s largest individual wine making firm. It was founded by Thomas Hardy in 1850s South Australia. Wine making became so successful for him, that he was selling wines both locally and in England, and so was able to purchase the Tintara Vineyard Company in 1876. In 1992 Thomas Hardy & Sons and Berri Renmano Limited merged to become Australia’s second largest wine group, BRL Hardy Limited. In 2003, the brands of BRL Hardy and those of Constellation Brands were merged to create the world’s largest international wine business, and BRL Hardy Limited became the Hardy Wine Company.

6. Jacob’s Creek is exported to over 60 countries. It is owned and produced by Orlando Wines in the Barossa Valley. In 1847 Johann Gramp, the founder of Orlando Wines, planted some of the first grape vines in the Barossa Valley along the banks of Jacob’s Creek. The 1973 vintage Shiraz Cabernet Malbec was the first wine released with the Jacob’s Creek label in 1976. Its high quality is very popular in Australia, and around the world. Jacob’s Creek fruit is sourced from different regions within South East Australia, to avoid seasonal variations and improve the quality of the wine.

7. De Bortoli Wines is one of the larger privately owned companies in Australia. De Bortoli makes a wide range of wines including the world acclaimed sweet white Noble One. De Bortoli Wines was established in 1928 by Vittorio and Giuseppina De Bortoli and rapidly expanded under the direction of their son, the late Deen De Bortoli. Today the company is in the hands of the third generation. De Bortoli Wines owns three wineries in three diverse wine growing regions: Bilbul near Griffith in the Riverina region of New South Wales, Near Cessnock in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, and Dixons Creek near Yarra Glen in the Yarra Valley in Victoria. The company has vineyards in the same regions as its wineries, as well as in King Valley in Victoria.

8. Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery, and is located near Angaston, South Australia in the Barossa Valley. It was founded by British brewer, Samuel Smith, who immigrated to Australia with his family from Wareham, Dorset in August 1847. Six generations and more than 150 years later Yalumba, has grown in size and stature, embodying all that has made the Australian wine success story the envy of winemakers the world over.

9. Yellowglen is Australia’s #1 sparkling wine brand, or as they say down-under, “champers”. Yellow was launched in 1996, and Pink splashed on the scene in 2003. Today they are Australia’s favorite sparkling wines. They are loved as they look fabulous and they taste delicious.

10. Berri Estates Winery was established in 1924, when a group of grape growers formed a Co-operative Distillery to manage surplus grape production. Berri Estates Winery is situated at Glossop in the heart of South Australia’s Riverland between Berri and Barmera.The majestic River Murray nourishes premium grapes for the wine, together with the Mediterranean climate. The Berri Estates winery is Australia’s largest single winery and distillery complex, processing 70,000 tons of grapes annually. It is well equipped with modern drainage, pressing, clarifying and chilling facilities to guarantee the quality of all its products.

Australian Wine Regions:

The highest production of wine comes from grapes grown in the warm Murray-Darling Basin zones of Lower Murray, North Western Victoria , Big Rivers Fleurieu, and Limestone Coast. The higher-value premium wines are often made in cooler regions.

Australian wines often win gold medals against French, Spanish, and Italian wineries. Australian wine history is rich as and exciting as the millions of people who populate the country today.

Australian Grape Varieties:

The Riesling class of wines has a tremendous fan following. The Clare and Eden valleys are famous for this variety. They have zippy acidity, fresh lime and lemon flavours, and a re often laden with blossom fragrance which makes them a perfect choice for the hot summer twilights .As of 2004, Riesling is the world’s 20th most grown variety at 48,700 hectares (120,000 acres), with an increasing trend. Importantly for a quality wine, it is in the “top three” white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc

Called “crisp, elegant, and fresh” by wine experts, the Sauvignon blanc and blends are vibrant, full of tropical and citrus fruit flavours, and sometimes with a faint dash of a herbal and grassy character. They are mostly Adelaide Hills labels. Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape variety originally from the Bordeaux region of France, now widely cultivated in Australia. The flavor ranges from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical depending on climate.

Semillon grapes whose aged styles are popular the world over are grown in the Hunter Valley.It is a popular varietal wine of Australia. Its flavors can range from honey to flowers to spice. As it ages it becomes more full-bodied and opulent. Semillion originates from Bordeaux, where it is blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make the dry white wine of the region.

It is said that Viognier was introduced, along with Syrah, to the Rhone Valley during the Roman occupation. The white grape variety faced near extinction just a few decades ago .It was discovered in a small area in Rhone and some enthusiasts using modern viticulture techniques made it one of the most popular varieties especially for those who don’t like the aggressive characters in Sauvignon blanc. Viognier is now planted in France, Italy, California and Australia and goes well with aromatic or mildly spiced dishes.

For people wanting to try wine in and around Australia, LateRooms provide a wide variety of accommodation… In particular some great Sydney hotels – which can used as a starting point for trips to the Hunter Valley.

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