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Blog // Thoughts
August 19, 2009

The Future Of Australian Fine Wine

Wine writer, Jancis Robinson just post the text from Brian Croser (formerly of Petaluma) on the future of the Australian Fine Wine industry. For lovers of good wine, or Australian wine, or both, it makes for pretty compelling reading. Over the last twenty years the Australian wine industry has exploded largely because of it’s ability […]

Wine writer, Jancis Robinson just post the text from Brian Croser (formerly of Petaluma) on the future of the Australian Fine Wine industry. For lovers of good wine, or Australian wine, or both, it makes for pretty compelling reading.

Over the last twenty years the Australian wine industry has exploded largely because of it’s ability to supply affordable, consistent and highly drinkable wines. Croser highlights how this has been both a blessing and a curse for Australian wine-makers.

The ubiquitous presence of affordable Australian wine on the shelves of supermarkets (and the dinner tables of non-afficionados) has created something of a backlash against fine Australian wines. I think it is fair to say, based on my travels over the last decade, that there are a fair few people around the world who pay top-dollar for good wine, but stare down their nose at almost anything (save Grange or Hill Of Grace) that bears the mark, Made In Australia. Sadly, in wine, as in many other things, prejudice sometimes wins out over palate.

Of course, that’s a travesty, because there are some really exceptionally smaller (dare we say boutique?) winemakers in Australia. The smallest amount of open-minded exposure to them blows away the myths that sometimes aggregate themselves to Australian wine (no-terroir, no subtly, no variety in grape choices).

Croser makes these points better than I can, in no small part because he’s been there at the cutting edge of fine Australian wine for so long. I was buoyed to read his promotion of cooler climate Australian wines and even more of the great Pinot Noir wines that come from the Mornington Peninsula (I’ve been plugging those to anyone who will listen for over 15 years now!!!).

“There are two wine industries in Australia, branded commodity made by a handful of large enterprises from mainly hot, inland, irrigation-dependent vineyards, largely purchased for everyday drinking from supermarkets by price-conscious consumers.

Then there is the Australian fine wine business composed of 2,500 small vigneron businesses and including the large producers in fine wine mode, scattered over the 62 mainly coastal, cooler, higher rainfall regions, increasingly only growing the varieties best suited to their region.

Their vines are reaching maturity and they are applying more and more fastidious and sustainable viticultural practices and less and less intervention in their winemaking. By comparison to any other fine wine producing nation they are well capitalised and are well educated in vine and wine technology and marketing and business practices. Their wine styles are distinctive and the quality is very good and getting better. Australia’s domestic market cannot absorb all of their volume at the premium price they require and deserve, and they are hungry for the export opportunity that has so far eluded them. “

So if you love good wine, then explore a little what the smaller Australian winemakers have to offer. Take a look at Torbreck, Stoniers, Samuels Gorge, Coriole, Tatiarra and many others.

Responses
Toni 13 years ago

Y’know I don’t think we see anything more than Jacob’s creek round here, mostly. I will look out though. As for the difference between fine and plain drinkable wine, I’m not sure my aged pallete can usefully distinguish.

Toni 13 years ago

Interestingly enough I have 2 bottles sat here beside me that have magically appeared in the wine collection:

Buronga growers Holthill reserve (Shiraz) from the Adelaide plains – donated by a wine buff rellie

Bremerton Tamblyn (Cabernet, Shiraz, Malbec & Merlot) by Rebecca Willson at Langhorn Creek – donated by a local

I’ve no idea yet whether either are good, but I guess I should find out soon.

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