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Cool Climate Wine Regions in Australia -Victoria

Cool Climate Wine Regions in Australia -Victoria

Australia’s cool climate wines have become trendy worldwide. When it comes to Aussie cool climate wines, Victoria takes the lead. So, it’s time to pin down some renowned cool climate wine regions in Victoria, whose wines characters differentiate them from wines produced in warmer areas.
Yarra Valley (Elevation 50-400m)
Located near Melbourne at an hour’s drive, the Yarra Valley is known for its star varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The region best produces single varietal table wines and traditional sparkling blends of Noir and Chardy. Shiraz and Cabernet have also shown success in this region.

Popular Wineries: De Bortoli Yarra Valley, Oakridge Estate, Seville Estate, Tarrawarra Estate, Yarra Yering, Mount Mary, Coldstream Hills, Yeringberg

Beechworth (Elevation 400-500m)
The interest towards Beechworth has been driven by the sublime wines of Giaconda, but there are other great producers in the region too. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz are particularly successful here, producing wines of complexity and elegance.

Popular Wineries: Amulet, Giaconda

Gippsland (Elevation 30-100m)
Gippsland is an emerging region developed by small family wineries. It extends from Phillip Island in the south to the southern border of NSW to its northeast. South Gippsland Pinot Noir is considered amongst the very finest in Australia. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are other primary varieties grown in Gippsland.

Popular Wineries: Nicholson River, Bass Phillip

Mornington Peninsula (Elevation 1-200m)
The Mornington Peninsula region is blessed with a cool maritime climate that’s best for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties. Besides these Pinot Gris and Shiraz from this region are also making an impression.

Popular Wineries: Paringa Estate, Stonier Wines, T’Gallant

Macedon Ranges (Elevation 500-690m)
The Macedon region is the coolest wine region on mainland Australia. The area is well suited to the production of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Shiraz sparkling wines. Though table wines made from Pinot Noir have also shown success in this region.

Popular Wineries: Hanging Rock, Rochford, Mount Macedon Winery, Bindi

Geelong (Elevation 10-100m)
It was Geelong where the first commercial vintage of Victoria was produced in 1845. An outbreak of phylloxera pest put this budding wine industry on hold for almost 100 years. But, today Geelong is best known for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of exceptional complexity.

Popular Wineries: Austins, Bannockburn Vineyards, Jindalee Estate

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Natural Wines: How to Identify Them and Some of the Common Varietals

If you love wines and love exploring them, you must have heard about natural wines. These wines are a natural version of the final wine you generally get to sip on. You may find the latest trend natural wines as the unfiltered and untamed versions of the regular wines. They look different, they taste different, and have different characteristics too. Some of those wines can even taste like a sour beer. If needed, there is minimal intervention chemically or technologically, just for growing the grapes to make wine out of them.

There are no definite (or official) criteria set that’s put to use for producing latest trend natural wines. However, the most accepted methods that wine producers worldwide use for producing wines naturally include:

  • Not adding any external colour, flavour or minerality to the wine
  • No filtration or fining of the wine
  • No addition of sulphites
  • No adjustments made for acidity
  • Produced in dry, low-yield vineyards
  • Production of wine from organically or biodynamically grown grapes
  • Grapes picked by hand
  • Wine is fermented without adding any yeast to it
  • And more

Natural wines are supposed to be funkier and have yeastier characteristics with a cloudy appearance. These have a very little essence or bits of fruit flavours. Yet, they are very clean and delightful if you develop a taste for them.

Some of the latest trend natural wines you can go for

  • Orange wine: This is a white wine produced with a process similar to that of a red wine. During the fermentation, the seeds and skins are kept in contact with the juice. 
  • Col Fondo Prosecco: This is a funky, unfiltered Prosecco which is quite unlike what you have had tasted so far.
  • Pet Nat: This is a sparkling wine type which is produced by fermenting wine in the bottle, causing it to carbonate with an all natural spritz

First Creek – A Penchant For Perfection in Viticulture

first-creek-wines

Hunter Valley is a revered name when it comes to listing some of the most influential winemaking regions in the world. It is located in New South Wales, the oldest and most diverse of regions. Hunter Valley is believed by many to be the birthplace of the Australian viticulture, consisting of more than 150 modern wineries and premium vineyards, of which First Creek is a part.

winemakers-first-creek

First Creek wines is a family owned, operated and managed winery with Shaun, Liz and Greg Silkman at its helm. With a passion for growing different varieties of grapes and expertise in the craft, the Silkman family leads a skilled team of viticulturists to produce remarkable quality, fruit-driven and sophisticated varietals and blends that are appreciated by consumers throughout the world.

Over the years, First Creek has garnered various awards and accolades for its products. In the year 2015 alone, the winery was awarded 11 trophies and 26 gold medals in just 5 shows, with their Semillon, Shiraz and Chardonnay varietals coming out on top. Many of these accolades are owed to the perseverance and vision of Liz Silkman, and she is regarded by her peers as one of the leading winemakers in all of Australia, being a former dux of the Len Evans Tutorial. In 2011 as well as 2016, Liz was crowned Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year at the Hunter Valley Legends Awards.

First Creek has established its cellar door right in the heart of Hunter Valley, open for the public. First Creek Cellar Door offers visitors a chance to glimpse the daily working of their winery from the Viewing Window. Special features at the cellar door include Member Tasting, Group Tasting and Hunter Valley 101. Member Tasting requires a booking to be made for members, providing them access to exclusive releases, a tour of the winery and a complementary platter of local produce and cheeses. Group Tasting is conducted for a group of 8, wherein an experienced cellar door team member hosts a sit-down and tasting session for the group. Hunter Valley 101 educates people regarding the history of the Hunter Valley region, and gains them a tour of the winery, a platter of local produce and cheeses, and an informative tasting of some of the main red and white varieties at First Creek.

The team at First Creek focuses on carefully selecting fruit, attention to detail throughout the process, and modern technological practices to craft its flavours and rich varietals and blends.

Lesser Known Oldest Wineries of Barossa Valley – Saltram Wines

saltram-wines

Wine-making is one of those businesses which are managed by families for generations. One of the foremost wine regions of Australia was that of Barossa Valley and one of the earliest wine-makers was William Salter. He had arrived as an immigrant from England in 1839 and bought the land in Barossa valley in 1844. Hence, began the journey of a winery which is going strong even now.

The first planting was of grapes for Shiraz wine in Australia was done in 1859 and wine was made in a facility under the shed. However, it was not until 1862 when the first vintage was brought to the market. The total volume of the first vintage was 8000 litres, which slowly grew to 182000 litres in 1891. William Salter, the pioneer, passed away in 1871 and his son Edward picked up from there. Besides Shiraz, he also planted Palomino grapes. The Saltram wines began to be sold in London when Edward entered into partnership with Thomas Hardy who agreed to buy all of his wine for 10 years. Charles and Lieslie, children of Edward, also began working with him but Charles left to start a new business of his own, leaving the field for Leslie to take over.

Leslie was a close friend of Martin, of the ‘Stoneywell’ fame. Martin bought a third of shares in Saltram and by 1941 it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Martin. In 1938, the winemaking business was put under the control of Ludlow who had an association with winery since 1917 and it continued till 1953. In 1954, Brian Dolan took over as Senior Winemaker  and quickly ascended the ranks to become GM of H.M. Martin and Son in 1959. Brian’s retirement in 1979 brought in the legendary Peter Lehmann at Saltram. He contributed to growing of cabernet sauvignon grape varietals. Lehmann stint was short lived as he left the same year to found his own wines business. After he had left, began the period of downturn which continued till 1992.

Things changed for the better again in 1993 when Niegel, son of Dolan took over. Ever since the winery has won many awards at regional and national level. Shavaughn Wells was appointed the Senior Winemaker in 2008. In 2009, Saltram celebrated the 150th anniversary with the release of Vintage Rare Tawny and the Journal Shiraz.

Role of Wine Events to Determine Best Wine in Australia

Australia is known for wines. It is one of the biggest producers, consumers and even exporters of wines. Most of the wine regions of this island country are situated in the south-eastern parts of the country where geo-climatic conditions favour the growth of vines. The different types of wines bear the hallmark of these regional influences and lend distinctive characteristics to the wines. Thousands of wineries present in these regions produce wines and their blends. For the benefit of wine lovers, there are many wine events held every year in different parts of the world. In these events, the wineries, the winemakers and the wines are awarded or are rated by experts. These recognition measures are one of the ways of bringing out the new varieties in the market and educating the consumers about their specialities.

The wines which are awarded or rated on high scale in these events become popular overnight. Since these are rated from well-known experts who are highly acclaimed professionals in their field of work, these easily become top sellers. People looking for best wine in Australia can recourse to these wines event awards to easily find the new varietals. Had it not been for these events, it would have become difficult for wine consumers to know which are the new ones, and more importantly, how good are these?

Wine events are also a platform for the small and new wineries to exhibit their products and mark their presence. Since there are a number of such events held every year, choosing a suitable platform is not a big deal. Wineries expect to carve out a niche for themselves by using these events as a promotional opportunity for new wines. Both business-to-business and business-to-consumer events are held and, therefore, the choice of suitable platform is important depending on the desired objectives.

However, best wines are not only adjudged on the basis of what a few experts would say. It also depends a lot on personal preferences of the people. People who do not like to experiment with the new wines, maintain their loyalty for their preferred brands. Sales data from different online and offline retailers would clearly show which wines are being preferred over the others

The Climate Change Challenge- How Real for Australian Wine?

Australia Climate Change

That the climate has turned unfavourable for the Australian wine regions and is not likely to turn favourable in near future is something which is haunting the Australian wine grapes growers for long. If one is to go by the wildfires due to dry spells, rise in temperature extremities, irratic rainfall, and the reducing yields of berries, the conclusion is unmistakeable. On the financial side of the wines business in Australia, the unpredictable weather is casting its shadow on wines sales and revenue earnings.

Australia Rainfall Pattern- 2014

The trends of changing weather have been forecasted by CSIRO which has clearly stated that in next 15 years, the temperatures will rise 0.3 degree Celsius to 1.5 degree Celsius. This will mean more dry spells and more raging wildfires, which are already affecting Australian wine growth. Temperature plays a major role during the ripening period of the grapes. It has to be just the right temperature. Being either too hot or too cold would result in change in sugar content and flavouring compounds.

Well, so much so for the adverse impacts. What is the solution? Many wine growers have already began looking for the new vistas for viticulture. This include exploring new cooler regions for the growth of wines. Whether moving up on altitude or latitude, possibilities are being explored to find cooler and suitable climes.

Besides looking for the new regions, technological intervention in farm practices are also being explored. These include developing sturdier varieties of fruit using modern farming bio-technologies. A fresh look is also being given to how the vineyards are managed in order to mitigate the effects of climate change.

So, while the threat from climate change is real, a range of solutions are being implemented to prevent the adverse impact on Australian wines.