Thursday, March 10, 2016

5 Amazing Lesser Known Wine Regions in Australia

Australian wine is renowned and quite famous in parts of the world by enthusiasts. Being such a large country geographically, we are blessed to have vast lands and a range of different climates, meaning a variety of wines can be grown. In the October’s issue we have talked about 4 of the largest wine districts in Australia. This time let’s take a tour to our 5 most amazing wine districts in Australia that you might have missed all these time!


Based in the Pyrenees ranges in Victoria, this region has come to be quite esteemed by wine connoisseurs from the area and has arguably become more famous than the other ranges. So while it might not be as undiscovered as some of the others on this list, it’s not exactly the first wine district out-of-towners visit when they venture to Victoria. It is also rather young compared to some of the better-known regions in the state, having been established in 2000. That said, tourism in the area remains substantial and the 40+ wineries operating here produce spicy, full-bodied Shiraz and cabernet varieties as well as the odd sparkling wine. The quality of the yields has a lot to do with the altitude of the rugged Pyrenees ranges, which range between 300 to 750 metres. The beauty of these ranges is also a highlight, with gorgeous mountain views, patches of iconic Australian gumtrees and uneven fields everywhere you look.

Langhorne Creek

Less than an hour south-east of Adelaide, essentially on the sea, is one of the smallest and under-appreciated wine districts in South Australia known as Langhorne Creek. It is as well hidden as any wine region in the country, despite having achieving success at various national and international wine shows.

The exceptionally flat, futile and rather damp land produces softer wines than neighbouring regions. Langhorne Creek has been praised on numerous occasions by popular winemaker Wolf Blass, who used to produce from this region in his blends. Langhorne Creek also has a rich history, with the first winemakers settling here in the 1850’s and many of the wineries are family owned and operated since this time.

Clare Valley

With the first winery propping up in the area in 1851, Clare Valley is actually one of the oldest wine regions in Australia. It is also considered by some to be the most picturesque with It’s unique combination of bushland, green, hilly meadows and 19th century stonework. This makes it one of the best areas to enjoy a meal or even to drive through. In addition, there are numerous historical sites that date back to the early settler years.

Located in the mid-north of the state, Clare Valley is renowned for Rieslings with cool nights and warm days in the summer making for the perfect conditions. Despite this, it has a range of grape varieties including Merlot and Sauvignon, which is grown in greater quantity than Riesling.


The Cowra wine district covers just 1,250 square kilometers, spreading across the Lachlan Valley and the town of Canowindra, among several others. But what it lacks in geographical size, it more than makes up for in character.

In recent years, the region has become well-known for it’s emphasis on organic wines, which are produced without the use of artificial materials, preservatives and pesticides. Many industry players in the region have also taken steps towards promoting sustainable agriculture and winemaking practices, making the Cowra district one of the leaders in these fields. The 40 vineyards in the district also produce amazing tasting wine, having taken numerous awards and being praised by critics all over the state. Four wines coming out of the region were listed in renowned wine writer James Halliday’s recent top 100 wines of NSW.

Add to that the fact that Cowra produces many different varieties - including Chardonnay, Shiraz, Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon - and you have a little something for everybody. You can also enjoy great food to go with your perfect wine while vising this must-not-be-missed wine district. To find the best food and wine you can visit Taste Canowindra, and enjoy the atmosphere!

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Situated at the coast of South Australia, Kangaroo Island understandably might not even be on your radar when it comes to wine tourism, especially if you’re living interstate. However this quirky wine district makes for an amazing day trip if you happen to find yourself in the area.
Since the 1830’s, winemakers have grown a wide range of grapes from Chardonnay to Shiraz and just about everything in between. Despite this, the area wasn’t officially named a wine district until 2001. There are currently roughly 30 wine growers across 200 hectares, producing a typically fruity brand of wine.
There is also a great deal of wildlife throughout the district and if you do have a chance to hop across, we’d highly recommend Emu Ridge Eucalyptus, which not only offers wine tastings but is also the home of a range of orphaned animals.

Keep an eye on our blog, as we’ll be discussing more not-to-be-missed wine districts in the coming months and keep you up to date with what’s happening in Canowindra!

Monday, February 8, 2016

3 Premium Australian White Wine Varieties

Australian White Wine Variants
Image from 123RF

In last month’s blog, we went through and discussed the major red wine varieties in Australia, many of which are grown right here in NSW’s central west. There are avid wine drinkers that have a strong preference for either white or red, although many would be of the view that there is a time and place for both.

White wines are lighter than reds, with a softer, less rich taste, so they are often preferred in particularly hot weather. In comparison, red are generally the pick as an accompaniment to meals, but that’s not to say that a white on a summer’s evening with a light meal isn’t tops. As with most things, it all depends on your particular tastes!

Let’s take a look at the most prominent white wine varieties in Australia and what makes them special.


Chardonnay is probably the first white wine that comes to mind and one of the most popular wines in Australia. A grape that is light green in colour is known for being quite easy to grow but not under all conditions (periods of high humidity close to the ripening can cause headaches for growers particularly organic ones as mildews can infect the crop), Chardonnay is often described as ‘neutral’ or ‘malleable’, meaning it can be easily influenced by the winemaker and different tastes and textures can be detected in every distinct batch. The green skinned grape is grown all over Australia, though it is said to be produced for commercial purposes for the first time in the Hunter Valley, NSW.

Chardonnay Grapes
Photo by slgckgc via Flickr / CC BY 2.0
The grapes ability to be grown just about everywhere has made it one of the most available wine varieties for decades, so much so that there were times in which it was culturally unpopular to drink particularly when the vintage was “over oaked”. However more heavily oaked wines are now becoming popular again in some quarters. There was a time in the mid-90‘s where many people approached wine-drinking according to the adage ABC - anything but Chardonnay. This is also thought to be a response to the commercialisation of wine and the fact that Chardonnay was starting to be planted in favour of local, lesser-known drops.

Chardonnay Grapes on Bucket
Image from 123RF
It’s difficult to explain the taste of Chardonnay and it differs according to everything from the soil in which it grew to the type of wood of the barrels it was stored in. Chardonnays have been described as having hints of citrus fruit, vanilla, coconut, melon and even toast. In the late nineties and early two thousands, the Cowra Wine Region received world acclaim for the quality its Chardonnay.


Riesling is another wine variety that tastes different according to where its grapes are grown. The wine is particularly popular in Germany, where it is the most grown grape and can interestingly have notes of petroleum or even kerosine, which is appreciated and even revered by many people.

In Australia, certain Rieslings are said to have a unique lime-like taste. Other varieties have been described to exhibit flavours of honey, apple and other fruits. Riesling grapes are highly acidic and often become ripe late in the season, giving the wine comparatively good aging potential among other whites.

Riesling Grapes
Image by Pixabay

The sweetest of wines on this list, Riesling has a light, fresh texture making it ideal companion to a fish or chicken dish. The best Rieslings are grown in marginally cooler regions made unpopular for a while because of its over use in cask wines, it’s made a comeback in recent years. Notably Clare valley in South Australia and The Orange Wine region both have a good reputation for producing some excellent Riesling.

Sauvignon Blanc

With Riesling and Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc is considered among the three highest quality white wines in most wine-drinking circles. As is the case with the large majority of wines, the grape originated in France (Bordeaux) and over the past few centuries has been introduced and grown all over the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes
Photo Credit: Devre White
Again, a Sav Blanc can taste a variety of ways. In hot climates, it tends to have a tropical feel to it (due to over ripeness), with flavours resembling fruits like passion-fruit, peach and even pineapple. In cold climates, a grassy, more acidic, herbal taste is often picked on. Generally-speaking, many of the Australian-produced varieties are said to have something of a flat, sparse taste. It is often touted for how well it goes with seafood of all kinds. Interesting, Sauv Blanc is said to be just about the only wine that works as an accompaniment to Sushi. It is often enjoy slightly chilled and is generally rather fresh.

Sauvignon Blanc Barossa Valley AU
Photo by Amanda Slater via Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 2.0
While the Marlborough region of New Zealand has an international reputation as producing some of the best Sav Blancs worldwide, a New Zealand wine maker who recently sampled some grown at altitude from The Orange Wine Region observed “some New Zealand wine makers will be seriously worried if they were to taste this...

These are arguably the most widely enjoyed white wines out there! There are countless other white (and red) wine varieties that we’ll be discussing in future articles. Check out our page next month as we’ll be featuring some of Australia’s best small-market and lesser-known wine districts that are well worth visiting if you have the chance! And if you are visiting Australia, do plan a quick trip to one of the most popular tourist attractions in NSW, Canowindra.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Top 4 Australian Wine Varieties: The Reds

Australian Red Wine
123RF Images
Hosting the fourth largest wine industry in the world, Australia produces some truly amazing drops and some of our wineries are world renowned. There are wineries in every Australian state and some of our most highly regarded wine regions include Coonawarra, Barossa Valley and NSW’s own Hunter Valley.

In this article series we will take a look at the different wine varieties on offer, their characteristics and what makes Australian wine so special. First, let’s talk about 'The Reds'.


Made from dark coloured grapes, Merlot is known for being one of the softer reds and often has a more fruity flavour than its rivals. Its name comes from a French word for blackbird, which references the colour of the grapes it is made from.
Australian Merlot Grapes
Image by Porao via Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0
In many regions, harvest of the Merlot grape takes place relatively earlier and it takes less time to mature after being bottled as well. This means that Merlot often has a lower alcohol content and what might be described as a somewhat herbal flavour.

Merlot is popular during meal times as it goes particularly-well with red meat, and it is a good wine for beginners and people new to the pleasures of red wine-drinking. Merlot is grown all over Australia and notable wine regions including Margaret River and Barossa Valley.


Shiraz arrived in Australia (from France and Spain) in 1831 and was planted in the Hunter Region of NSW. Today it is one of the widely enjoyed reds in Australia and is our most popular red grape. Shiraz is grown on over 40,000 hectares in Australia alone.
Australian Shiraz Grapes
Image by Mangnus Manske via Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0
In terms of taste, this is a wine that can be very different depending on the region in which the grape is grown and the wine produced. Australian varieties are quite big, bold and aromatic, different from the lighter Merlot. It has become common for winemakers to add white grape know as Viognier to Shiraz, giving it an apricot-like flavour.

Shiraz is Australia’s most widely grown grape and can be found in just about every major wine region. The Cowra wine region in NSW is small by Australian standard but Shiraz’s and Cab Sau’s from this region have repeatedly won national awards in both organic and non-organic varieties.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The red with perhaps the greatest aging potential is the Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that is categorised by its smooth texture and varied flavours. Aged in oak, it is full-bodied and quite acidic, and you may taste anything from cherry or plum to vanilla, chocolate or coffee in different varieties. In Australia, some even have a eucalyptus tang. The flavours differ from glass to glass and Cab Sav is often blended with other wine varieties.
Australian Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes
Image by Dodo via Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0
One of the main qualities of this grape that is worth mentioning is how easy it is to grow, as it has a thick skin and is more resilient to unfavourable weather conditions, rot, insects and the like. In fact, it has a reputation of taking over an area and pushing other grape varieties out when introduced.

Pinot Noir

In direct contrast, Pinot Noir is known for being one of the most difficult grape varieties to cultivate and tends to require cooler climates. This makes it a grape found in mostly in southern parts of Australia, most notably the Yarra Valley and parts of Tasmania. The grape does prosper in other areas however, including the Orange region in NSW, as this area is some 1000m above sea level. The grape has a thin skin and grows in clusters, making it quite susceptible to various problems.
Australian Pinot Noir Grapes
Image by Pixabay
The wine it produces however, is not to be missed. Delicate and soft, wine made from young Pinot Noir grapes are often compared to a cherry/berry-like flavour while older varieties can cultivate a mixture of more complex earthy and flavours. This is a wine that is traditionally matched with lighter meals such as vegetables, chicken and fish dishes.

Stay tuned for our blog article next month, which will focus on most popular white wines in AustraliaWish you a successful year in 2016 from everyone at Taste Canowindra!