The Wine Junkies Went Down Under

This is the first post of a series of four, in which we share our experience after having visited Tasmania and Barossa Valley.

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Late 2017 we first visited Australia, land of kangaroos, cockatoos and great wine. Back then, we explored the wine regions around Melbourne, Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula.

Tasmania

Tasmania is Australia’s southernmost wine-making region, and has a great reputation when it comes to food and drinks. It has some of the best seafood Australia has to offer, famous for its oysters, salmon and scallops as well as lamb, cheese and honey. Besides some of the best cool-climate wines, the island produces some renowned apple and pear ciders, whiskey, beer and even gin. In other words, a great place for foodies to visit.

The first settlers started producing wine since the mid-19th century, however this slowly died out, until the mid-20th century when vines were replanted.

Being on an island in the south, the climate is greatly affected by the surrounding oceans, causing a moderate temperature. It never gets very hot or cold in Tasmania, with average minimum temperatures between 3 and 11 degrees Celsius, and average maximum temperatures between 17 and 23 degrees Celsius.

Chances are you have never experienced a Tasmanian wine as the Aussies like to keep it for themselves. Compared to some of the other wine regions in Australia, Tasmania is a relatively small player, and only contributes just under 1% in terms of volume, but contrary to some of the other regions, the keyword here is quality. You won’t find any Tassy wine under A$15. As a matter of fact, the average selling price for a Tasmanian bottle is nearly three times higher than the average Australian wine. Certainly, yields are much lower than elsewhere, but overall there is a strong preference among the Tasmanian winemakers of quality over quantity. There’s about 160 producers, with a total of 2,000 hectares under vine. A lot of smaller, boutique wineries therefore, which certainly adds to the charm of these wines. You won’t be surprised to learn that Pinot Noir is the most popular variety grown, followed by Chardonnay.

  • Pinot Noir – 41%
  • Chardonnay – 18%
  • Sauvignon Blanc – 17%
  • Pinot Gris – 10%
  • Riesling – 8%

Sparkling wine accounts for 35% of all wine produced.

Although there are major differences between vineyards and regions, in general you can say that the Tasmanian wine is one that’s exciting, vibrant, aromatic, and with a nice acidity.  

the_wine_junkies_map_tasmania

We visited two wineries in the Pipers River region, namely Dalrymple Vineyards, producer of fine still wines and Jansz, specialized in sparkling wines using the Méthode Traditionnelle, or as they call it themselves, Méthode Tasmanoise.

We will be dedicating two separate posts following our visits to these wineries, which are among the most prestigious in Tasmania.

Barossa

Think Australian wine, think Barossa, think Shiraz. Shiraz from Barossa put Australia as a serious wine country on the map. Barossa is without a doubt the best-known wine region of Australia and is therefore a must-visit for all wine lovers. But Barossa has so much more to offer than only Shiraz. It’s a gourmet lover’s paradise with an abundance of wine, cheese, meats and seasonal produce to choose from. The region is home to communities that were founded in the 19th century by mainly Prussian settlers. Until today, you can tell by the German sounding names, the architecture and churches around.

What became some of the largest players in the international wine business have their roots in this part of Australia. Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds and Wolf Blass to name a few.

The region is also unique as it has some of the oldest vines in the world. Unlike the rest of the wine-growing world, Australia and thus Barossa stayed free of phylloxera, and therefore has older vines than those from the traditional wine producing countries such as France and Italy. Its Mediterranean climate has proven to be ideal for varieties such as Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay, Semillon and of course Shiraz.

Barossa can be separated into two sub-regions; Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. The wines from Barossa Valley are known for being powerful and full of flavor, while the wines from Eden Valley tend to have more acidity and are generally more delicate. Most of Barossa’s whites are from Eden Valley and grapes from both areas are often blended to have a good balance of power, fruit and acidity.

Some of the most sought after cult wines are from Barossa, such as Penfold’s Grange, Henschke’s Hill of Grace and Rockford’s Basket Press.

the_wine_junkies_map_barossa

We were fortunate enough to visit one of the pioneers and oldest-family winemakers in Australia, Henschke where the fifth and sixth generation are passing on the legacy and continue to produce some of the best wine Australia has to offer.

A separate post will be devoted following our visit to Henschke.

Do you have a favourite wine from these regions? Share it with us in the comments below.

Santé!

Albert & Willem

 


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