Category Archives: Grape Varieties

Four prominent red grape varieties in Australia

Here are 4 prominent red grape varieties of Australia and some information on initial plantings of these grape varieties and the total plantings –

  • Shiraz – Initial plantings in late 1700’s in Australia. Total plantings of ~40,000 ha vineyards in Australia.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Initial plantings in mid 1800’s. There are total of ~25,000 ha vineyards in Australia.
  • Grenache – Initial plantings in 1840s. There are total of ~1,500 ha of  Grenache vineyards in Australia
  • Pinot Noir – Initial plantings in 1830s. There are total of ~5,000 ha of Pinot Noir vineyards in Australia


Other red grape varieties of Australia that are worth the mention are Mourvedre, Temperanillo and Petit Verdot.


Mourvedre in Australia – Then and Now

Mourvedre in Australia in 20th century

Mourvedre was the preferred grape variety to make fortified wines during the first half of 19th century in Australia. The popular wines blended with Mourvedre were Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. The popularity of these blends were overshadowed with the coming up of new blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz during the 1950’s. Another setback for Mourvedre happened with the Vine Pull Scheme of 1987 when many of the plantations were destroyed.

During these difficult times many wine-growers faced losses and were helped by some of the well-known figures of wine industry such as Peter Lehmann, Robert O’Callaghan and Bob McLean. The period also saw the development famous wines such as Nine popes, a blend of Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre.

Mourvedre in Australia

In 2016,  there were a total 750 ha of vineyards in Australia with 7400 tonnes of grapes crushed. The top GI regions according to tonnes produced was Riverland. It holds 39% share of the total Mourvedre as a grape-varietal produced in Australia.

Some of the Australian wineries that produce Mourvedre wines are –

  • Churchview Estate wines
  • D’Arenberg Wines
  • Jacobs Creek Wines
  • Larry Cherubino Wines
  • St Hallett Wines
  • Yalumba Wine Company
  • Yangarra Estate
  • Zonte’s Footsteps


Awaken your senses – Watershed Awakening Cabernet Sauvignon

Watershed Awakening Cabernet Sauvignon

Watershed Awakening Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant and medium-bodied wine. It contains exciting fragrances of blackcurrants and choco-mint. The palate is complex with the notes of black olive and fine, silky tannins. Consume it young, however,cellaring it for a period of 5-10 years will benefit the wine further.

It was awarded 98 points in the Best 20 Reds Over $25 by James Halliday and was listed in James Halliday Top 100 wines of 2017.

Sangiovese – A Red Wine Grape That Defines Italy

Sangiovese is an Italian red grape variety. This grape is both famous and infamous. Many moments of glory and agony of Italian wine industry are attributed to this grape. This grape is also cultivated in Australia wine regions with Murray-Darling basin region of Victoria accounting for 29% of it. Riverland and Riverina regions are the next important Sangiovese growing regions accounting for 11% and 10% respectively.

The total area under this wine grape is 440 hectares but this is not the best of acreage that has been under this variety. The vineyard area under this grape has first seen a decline from 2004-6, and then an increase till 2011 before again going down till 2015. The present acreage can be considered as one of the lowest under this grape variety.

Sangiovese wines are not only consumed in Australia, these are exported to other countries as well. More than half of this wine export reaches United Kingdom whereas China and USA are distant second and third in position.

Some of the famous Sangiovese brands of wines available in Australia are:

All Saints Estate

Byrne Vineyards

Cappa Stone

Castagna Wines

De Bortoli


Kingsley Grove Estate



Save Our Souls


Windowrie, and

Zonte’s Footstep.


Durif Vineyards See Appreciable Increase in Area

If you are asked which grape variety has seen appreciable increase in area in the last half a decade, then Durif is the one of the prime contenders to hold the top position. Durif is a red wine varietal which is grown in 620 hectares of land area. This area under Durif vines is mostly grown in Riverina region which accounts for 75% of total acreage under this grape. From 2001 to 2010, that is a period of 10 years, the area under this grape has been fluctuating between 300 to 400 hectares. However, it was from 2012 that this has seen an appreciable increase, reaching 500 hectares and then increasing further to current levels.
Durif wines are consumed in Australia as well as exported. The most important export destination for these wines is United Kingdom which accounts for 71% of total durif wine export. The reasons for rise in vineyard area for this grape variety is partly due to this fact that these have good export market in Europe. Further, the wine producers who are looking for taking a break from the routine find this grape to be more to the liking of the consumers in Australia and abroad.
Brief History of Durif
Durif is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin. This variety was developed so as to offer resistance to vine disease Powdery Mildew. However, there was another associated problem with this variety. The grape formed thick and tightly held bunches which made it rot in the native place of Rhone valley of France. But, in California and Australia, the vines of these grapes did pretty well. The reason was that the sunny and warmer conditions of these regions were suited for grapes. Durif grapes are small and there is higher proportion of skin to the fruit. So, wines made from it are very tannic. The wines made from it are rich in tannin and come with unexpected degree of acidity.

Malbec Around the World


Malbec is to Argentina as Shiraz is to Australia. This clearly defines the importance of Malbec wines in Argentina. However, this red wine grape is not grown only in Argentina. It is also grown in different parts of the world, including Australia. In fact, it is believed to have originated in France, and from there, it was introduced in Argentina by Michel Pouget in 1868. The wine is known for its dark fruit flavours, plump and smoky finish. The style of wine varies from region to region and this makes Malbec wines from some regions more in demand than the others.

Malbec Wine – Australia

In Australia, this grape is grown in 560 hectares of land area. 3000 tonnes of grapes grown on this area were crushed in 2016 with one-third of these coming from the cool climatic regions of the country. The vineyard area under Malbec has seen sharp increase since 2010. This grape is grown in almost equal proportions in five different wine regions- Riverland, Limestone Coast, Riverina, Clare Valley and Padthaway. The Malbec wine of Australia is exported mostly to United Kingdom and price of bottled wine which is exported the most varies from A$5 to A$ 7.49 per litre.

Malbec Wine – Argentina

In Argentina, the Malbec vines occupy an area of more than 20000 hectares. These grow in small clusters which have smaller berries and come in tighter clusters. The Malbec of Argentina is deep in colour and fruity flavours. These also have good ageing potential than the French ones.  The regions which is particularly noted for growing of Malbec grape variety is Mendoza region.

Malbec Wine – France

In France, Malbec grapes are grown in Bordeaux region. At one point of time, the grape was so popular in France that it was grown in 30 departments of France and had more than 1000 names. However, with the passage of time, its importance declined and it gave way to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The stronghold of Malbec is the Cahors region where it is required by law to be present at least 70 percent in wines with remaining being Tannat and Merlot.

Grenache Wines and GSM Blends of Australia

Grenache is a red grape variety. It is believed to have originated in Spain at first. In Australia, this grape is grown in famous wine regions of Riverland, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Clare Valley. The first two regions take up as much as 60% of the total growing area for this grape. Grenache grape is grown in 1.51 thousand hectares of land area within these regions. This is just more than 1 percent of the total vineyards area of Australia. The acreage under this grape has seen a constant decline since 2001. The peak area under cultivation for this grape was 2.5 thousand hectares in 2002. The decline is attributed to many reasons, chief among these being the fact that growers give preference to other varieties.

Grenache is one of the grape in popular wine blend of GSM wines. The other two being Shiraz and Mourvedre. Shiraz is undoubtedly the most important wine grape variety in Australia. It is grown in the largest area in Australia. However, Mourvedre wine grape is rather insignificant, growing in only 750 hectares of land area. Mourvedre is also called Mataro or Monastrell and is believed to have originated from Spain. The following chart summarises the relative positions of these grape varieties in Australian context:

Variety Area (in ‘000 hectares) Tonnes (in ‘000 )
Grenache 1.51 13.0
Shiraz 39.89 395.0
Mourvedre 0.75 7.4


In the making of the blended GSM wines, these three varieties are mixed in different proportions. Grenache or Mourvedre are rarely produced as single varietal wines, but Shiraz is very popular as a single varietal wine.