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Australian - Reds

By Kevin Cain

For a long time the wines of Australia were termed: New World Wines. This caused traditional European wine growing countries to treat Australian wine with some disdain and not that much respect.However, early settlers from France, Italy and Spain introduced Australia to winemaking and many taught the traditional winemaking techniques and methods of their old countries. Since those early days, Red wine in particular has been making great in-roads in Australia and the quality of the produce has been gaining more and more acceptance amongst the world’s wine elite.

Today, Australia’s winemakers are some of the best on the planet, producing some of the finest Red wine available today. The leading wine regions are: Barossa and Clare Valleys in South Australia, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, the Yarra Valley in Victoria, the Margaret River region in Western Australia, and the Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania. They are all producing fantastic wine from a number of grape varieties.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes classed the “Monarch of all Grapes”. Predominantly used in the Bordeaux area of France for centuries as a foundation of the famous Claret wines,it is thought to have first appeared in Australia in the 1830’s. Today it is successfully grown across the country, in particular in the Yarra Valley and the Margaret River region where the wines produced are recognised around the world for their quality. When Cabernet Sauvignon is mature it has a bouquet of blackberry, plum and cherry, with time it has a deep flavour of port, caraway, aniseed and coffee. Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent wine for putting down and cellaring.

Shiraz

The origins of this grape were thought to emanate from Persia, although there is a school of thought that says the grape was actually first grown in France. In fact it is also a grape that flourishes in the climate of Australia when even in low fertile soils it produces large quantities of fruit on single vines. The Shiraz grape is known for its deep plum colour, with a slightly peppery flavour, and is a very versatile grape. Left to ripen fully, the peppery qualities develop into a nose of stewed plums and dark cherry. After that, flavours of port, chocolate and coffee often appear when the fruit is very ripe.

Merlot

Merlot is a highly popular grape with producers as it is fairly easy to grow and ripens a week earlier than most, it also produces a high yield. Many growers include Merlot in their crop selection as it is an excellent backup product and it will consistently survive adverse weather.

Also Merlot is often used to blend with other grape varieties as it has qualities of plum, liquorice and chocolate, and in years of bad yield it can pad out other less hardy grape varieties.

Pinot Noir

A popular grape with many wine enthusiasts for the complexity of flavours and variety of vintage. Pinot Noir is one of the most difficult varieties of grape to grow, and its flavour takes on more from its terroir than other varieties. This means the wine can taste quite different from one vineyard to the next.The Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley and Geelong are particularly highly regarded as this grape does not like extreme temperatures and the climate in these two regions is ideal.