Our Australian wines series continues. Now we go deeply into Australia’s six major wine regions, starting with NSW and Queensland. I say “deeply”… as much as one can go in brief posts about such a vast area of land. This brief overview will hopefully tempt you to explore further and discover which wineries and varietals from Australia you love best.
NEW SOUTH WALES. NSW was the birthplace of Australian wine (Hunter Valley, 1820s). It lies on the eastern coast of Australia where wine is produced in all of its varying climates and latitudes, from sea level to over 1500 feet.
Hunter Valley (NSW). In addition to being the original wine region, Hunter Valley is now on the forefront of tourism around the wine economy. It remains the most visited wine region and comprises Upper and Lower Hunter areas. Hunter wines are typically lower in alcohol than comparable wines, making them light and very food friendly. The tough growing conditions produce some of Australia’s best Shiraz and Semillon.
Canberra (NSW). Canberra straddles two areas, NSW and Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Canberra region is formed by these two vineyard areas and was planted as recently as 1971. Canberra has extreme high and low temperature swings, and is becoming an important cool climate wine-producing region. Australia’s capital city, Canberra has a lot to offer tourists seeking other diversions, too. Good choices: Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling.
QUEENSLAND. Called the “Sunshine State,” Queensland has one of the hotter climates down under. Grapes were planted more than a century ago, but it wasn’t until foresighted vintners (probably with better equipment, too) realized they could take advantage of Queensland’s high altitude mountains and volcanic soil to plant vines where temperate air created a productive growing area. Ranging from 2100 to 3000 feet, notable wines here are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Viognier.
Granite Belt (a.k. a. “Southern Downs,” Queensland). This is part of the Great Dividing Range and gains its name from its unique granite rocks. Not only is wine grown to profusion here. Apples and wildflowers also abound, due to the rich granite soil. It is the most temperate (cool) and dry region of Queensland, and gets relatively little rainfall. Good selections include Viognier, Verdelho (under Strange Bird brand), Merlot, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Have you gotten to try any wines from New South Wales or Queensland? I would love to know what you thought.