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The Best Australian Wines To Stock Your Cellar

The Best Australian Wines To Stock Your Cellar

franco salzillo arriaga |

Australia is the fifth-largest wine producer in the world after Italy, France, Spain and the USA, and it’s the fifth-largest exporter a well. The world is in love with Australian wine, and it’s easy to see why — the country produces wine of all wine styles with a wide variety of grapes to meet every craving.

When it comes to grapes, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay lead the pack, but Merlot, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir produce outstanding results!

Australian wine is awesome, yes, but where to start your amazing journey through the country’s repertoire? Here are the best Australian wines with examples. Have you tried them all?

1. The Hunter Valley, New South Wales

The Hunter Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in Australia, first planted in the 1830s. The “grandfather” of Australia’s wine industry, James Busby, once called the valley home. Although the area hosted the first Chardonnay vines in the country, today, the Hunter Valley is known for its citrus-scented, refreshing white wines made with Semillon.

The region’s crisp white wines are easy to enjoy when young, but the finest examples can age for several decades! This is white wine like no other in Australia or the world. The wines from the Hunter Valley are the best known from New South Wales and are considered amongst the finest in the country.

Wines to Try:

Glenguin Vineyard Semillon 2018

Glenguin Botrytised Semillon 2017 375ml

2. Canberra, New South Wales

The vineyards surrounding Australia’s capital city are gaining recognition for their wines inspired by the French Rhône Valley. Shiraz and Viognier blends are not uncommon and contrast with other renditions of the red grape around the country.

Canberra’s continental climate has diurnal temperatures that make the region ideal for growing premium red and white grapes, and they can show both tight acidic palates and ripe fruit aromas. Relatively small and lesser-known compared to Australia’s major wine-producing regions, Canberra is still a gem to be discovered by most wine lovers.

Wines to Try:

Lerida Estate Shiraz Viognier 2018

Eden Road Riesling 2017

3. Yarra Valley, Victoria

This prestigious wine region in northern Victoria shares similarities with Burgundy. The cold climate is suitable for growing premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, although robust red wines are also typical. The Yarra Valley is home to some of Australia’s most exciting sparkling wines, and up in the valley, the cold climate is best suited for making apple cider.

Large companies and boutique wineries share the narrow valley blessed by a high altitude. This is one of the coldest regions in Australia, so the wine always has an acidic backbone and an elegant, smooth palate.

Wines to Try:

Yarra Yering ‘Underhill’ Shiraz 2018

Ingram Rd Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2020

4. Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

This coastal region in Victoria benefits from the cool maritime influence, making it one of the coldest grape-growing areas in Australia. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay comprise most of the peninsula’s vineyards, and small boutique estates dominate the wine scene.

The Mornington Peninsula is also ideal for growing other cool-climate varietals, including Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. The region’s varied, ancient soils give grape-growers a broad colour palette to work with.

This relatively new wine region is still home to just a few small producers, but the wine’s quality is of the highest order. Australia’s cold wine regions have given the country’s repertoire new life.

Wines to Try:

Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir 2017

Port Phillip Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2019

5. Adelaide Hills, South Australia

High over the Mount Lofty Ranges, the Adelaide Hills GI host vineyards at altitudes between 400 and 650 metres. With altitude comes a colder climate, which means tart, refreshing wines made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

The wine here has an excellent quality-price ratio, and it’s still largely unknown in international markets. Still, the quality is often above average, particularly for the region’s sparkling wines.

Not to be confused with the warmer, low-altitude Adelaide Plains, Adelaide Hills is gaining a spot among Australia’s most respected GIs. This is certainly a region to watch closely.

Wines to Try:

S.C. Pannell Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2019

6. Coonawarra, South Australia

A genuine treasure in the Limestone Coast, Coonawarra is well-known for its red “terra rossa” soils and the robust Cabernet Sauvignon that grows on them. The first vines were planted in the arid region in 1985 by authentic pioneers, and the bet paid off. For Cabernet, few Australian regions are as consistent as Coonawarra.

The region’s red wines are concentrated and robust and often display a structured, tannic palate and black fruit aromatics. These wines are big, bold and beautifully nuanced. Coonawarra offers an exciting alternative to the Shiraz-based red wines that dominate Australia’s wine scene.

Wines to Try:

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Brands Laira ‘Blockers’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

7. Barossa, South Australia

Barossa is a warm, arid region and the most significant wine-producing area in South Australia. The wine here is legendary, literally, as old vines are a source of robust, inky wines with a massive concentration.

Huge producers, including Penfolds, Peter Lehmann and Two Hands Winery, grow grapes in the area and produce wines of collector status. Sure, wines from Barossa are not the most inexpensive in the country, but they sure are some of the most memorable.

For a picture-perfect rendition of Australia’s big and bold Shiraz, Barossa is an easy decision. If that weren’t enough, producers in the area craft a unique sparkling wine with Shiraz — it has no equal.

Wines to Try:

Two Hands’ Gnarly Dudes’ Shiraz Barossa Valley 2020

Peter Lehmann Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz 2015

8. Eden Valley, South Australia

The Eden Valley lies straight across Barossa; they both share the larger Barossa Valley Zone. Still, Eden Valley offers a unique take on the region’s wine styles. With higher elevations and a slightly cooler climate, the arid region produces extraordinary Shiraz and has the right conditions to grow Riesling. Some of the most exciting Australian wines come from Eden Valley, including a few single vineyards, consistently listed amongst the country’s best wines.

The Eden Valley’s Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Viognier are highly praised by wine lovers and collectors alike. These wines can age, and they offer an extraordinary take on the country’s flagship grapes.

Wines to Try:

Mountadam Five-Fifty Eden Valley Chardonnay 2018

Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2016

9. Clare Valley, South Australia

Up north, within the Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley is a wine region best known for its cold climate, perfect for growing premium Riesling. Still, winemakers in the area also produce light-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, well worthy of adding to any wine collection.

This might be a small area, but it has a rich history going back to the early 19th century. This is the ideal setting for a thriving craft winemaking scene in which small producers take their time to make big wines. Clare Valley’s Riesling is often compared with the greatest of France and Germany. The finicky grape doesn’t grow anywhere, but it feels right at home up in South Australia’s high peaks.

Wines to Try:

O’Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling 2011

Tim Adams Pinot Gris 2021

10. McLaren Vale, South Australia

It’s hard to shine under the shadow of prestigious appellations in Southern Australia, such as the world-famous Barossa, but the McLaren Vale shines on its own merits.

This coastal region is home to some of the oldest vines in Australia, particularly Grenache and Mourvedre (Mataro). Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also have significant plantings in the arid region freshened by the St Vincent Gulf.

The McLaren Vale has a GI of its own since 1997, but the new kid on the block has all it needs to become a powerhouse for terroir-driven wines. For exceptional wine at an even better price, McLaren Vale is hard to beat.

Wines to Try:

Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz 2019

Kay Brothers Amery Basket Pressed Mataro 2018

11. Margaret River, Western Australia

Margaret River has unique Oceanic weather, often compared to the French region of Bordeaux. It’s no surprise the leading red grape in the area is Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the most age-worthy Chardonnays in the country come from Margaret River as well.

Margaret River became a prominent wine region as early as the 1960s, and today it’s up there with the best wines, not only from Australia’s best but the world. The estates in Margaret River craft authentic masterpieces, bringing together tradition and technology for wines that are often meant to age. Still, the region is also the source of delicious everyday wine.

Wines to Try:

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2018

Hay Shed Hill Block 2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

12. Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost wine region in Australia, and it’s also one of the coldest. The island’s chilly weather is perfect for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling — the specialty here, though, is sparkling wine. It’s of world-class quality.

With a single GI, Tasmania has taken the world of wine by storm with refreshing dry wines and festive bubbles. The island is growing in popularity, and it’s becoming one of the most exclusive sources of fine wine in the country. There’s no doubt you’ll be hearing more about Tasmania. 240 kilometres from mainland Australia. This is authentic heaven for cold climate grapes and their complex wines.

Wines to Try:

Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir 2018

Storm Bay NV Sparkling

13. Rutherglen, Victoria

Ending on a sweet note, Rutherglen’s famous “sticky” wine is larger than life. These long-lived, complex and sophisticated fortified wines were once more popular than dry table wine and remain today as an homage to Australia’s vinous history.

The grape of choice for this specialty wine is Muscat, and it produces the most wonderful, sweet wines reminiscent of the country’s gold rush of 1851. Some of the most prestigious and oldest wineries own wine casks filled with one-hundred-year-old wine! Needless to say, Rutherglen is now a modern wine region, and producers here make super dry wine as well.

Wines to try:

Campbells Classic Rutherglen Muscat

Morris ‘Classic’ Tawny NV

Australian Wine Has Something for Every Palate

There’s no doubt you’ll find in Australia’s impressive wine catalogue a type of wine for every palate, food and occasion. The massive country is heaven for grape growers and winemakers alike. From warm, sunny regions to chilly weather, there’s nothing winemakers can’t do in Australia, and they do it all very well!

The more you learn about Australian wine, the more you fall in love with it. There’s no doubt quality is better than ever, and wine lovers worldwide know it. The future is bright for Australian wine. What are your favourite Aussie wines?