Australian red wine. Shiraz is it.
The Australian red wine industry is the fourth largest exporter of red wine around the world, with 760 million litres a year to a large international export market and contributes $5.5 billion per annum to the nation's economy. Australian red wine accounts for a very large imported wine market share in South Asian countries and is the second largest imported wine in India with a market share of 16%. There is also a significant domestic market for Australian red wines, with Australians consuming nearly 500 million litres of wine per year. Wine is produced in every state, with more than 60 designated wine regions totaling approximately 160,000 hectares; however Australia’s red wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country, with vineyards located in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia. The wine regions in each of these states produce different wine varieties and styles that take advantage of the particular Terroir such as: climatic differences, topography and soil types. With the major australian red wine varieties being predominantly Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. Australian red wines are often labeled with the name of their grape variety, which must constitute at least 85 percent of the wine. The Australian red wine industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy through production, employment, export and tourism.
Vine cuttings from the Cape of Good Hope were brought to the penal colony of New SouthWales by Governor Phillip on the First Fleet (1788). An attempt at wine making from these first vines failed, but with perseverance, other settlers managed to successfully cultivate vines for winemaking, and Australian red wine was available for sale domestically by the 1820s. In 1822 Gregory Blaxland became the first person to export Australian wine, and was the first winemaker to win an overseas award. In 1830 vineyards were established in the Hunter Valley. In 1833 James Busby returned from France and Spain with a serious selection of grape varieties including most classic French grapes and a good selection of grapes for fortified wine production. Wine from the Adelaide Hills was sent to Queen Victoria in 1844, but there is no evidence that she placed an order as a result. The production and quality of Australian red wine was much improved by the arrival of free settlers from various parts of Europe, who used their skills and knowledge to establish some of Australia's premier wine regions. For example, emigrants from Prussia in the mid 1850s were important in establishing South Australia's Barossa Valley as a winemaking region.
Early Australian red winemakers faced many difficulties, particularly due to the unfamiliar Australian climate. However they eventually achieved considerable success. Australian wine continued to win high honors in French competitions. A Victorian Syrah (also called Shiraz) competing in the 1878 Paris Exhibition was likened to Château Margaux. One Australian red wine won a gold medal "first class" at the 1882 Bordeaux International Exhibition and another won a gold medal "against the world" at the 1889 Paris International Exhibition. That was all before the destructive effects on the industry of the phylloxera epidemic.
In the decades following the devastation caused by phylloxera until the late 1970s, Australian red wine production consisted largely, but not exclusively, of sweet and fortified wines. Since then, Australia has rapidly become a world leader in both the quantity and quality of wines it produces. For example, Australian wine exports to the US rose from 578,000 cases in 1990 to 20,000,000 cases in 2004 and in 2000 it exported more wine than France to the UK for the first time in history.
The industry has also suffered hard times in the last 20 years. In the late 1980s, governments sponsored growers to pull out their vines to overcome a glut of wine grapes. Low grape prices in 2005 and 2006 have led to calls for another sponsored vine pull. Cleanskin wines were introduced into Australia during the 1960s as a means to combat oversupply and poor sales.
In recent years organic and biodynamic wines have been increasing in popularity, following a worldwide trend. In 2004 Australia hosted the First International Biodynamic Wine Forum in Beechworth, Victoria which brought together biodynamic wine producers from around the globe. Despite the overproduction of grapes many organic and biodynamic growers have enjoyed continuing demand thanks to the premium prices winemakers can charge for their organic and biodynamic products, particularly in the European market.
South Australia wine regions
Southern Fleurieu, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Eden Valley, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Riverland, Wrattonbully
Victoria wine regions
Alpine Valleys, Beechworth, Goulburn Valley, Grampians, Heathcote wine region, Henty, Mornington Peninsula, Pyrenees, Rutherglen, Yarra Valley, King Valley,
New South Wales wine regions
Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Riverina, New England, Southern Highlands,
Western Australia wine regions
Greater Perth:Perth Hills, Peel, Swan Valley
South Western Australia, Blackwood Valley, Geographe,
Great Southern:Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker, Porongurup, Manjimup, Margaret River, Pemberton
Major Australian red grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some varieties havebeen bred by Australian viticulturalists, for example Cienna and Tarrango.
Although Syrah was originally called Shiraz in Australia and Syrah elsewhere, its dramatic commercial success has led many Syrah producers around the world to label their wine "Shiraz". The area of land used to grow the shiraz grape has increased year over year compared to teh other red graps that have either remained the same or decreased.This helps provide the importance of the shiraz grapes to the Australian red wine industry.
About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over recent years many winemakers have begun exploring so called "alternative varieties" other than those listed above. Many varieties from France, Italy and Spain for example Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier are becoming more common. Wines from many other varieties are being produced.
Australian red wine making results have been impressive and it has established benchmarks for a number of varietals, such as Chardonnay and Shiraz. Moreover, Australians have innovated in canopy management and other viticultural and in wine-making techniques, and they have a general attitude toward their work that sets them apart from producers in Europe. Australian red wine makers travel the wine world as highly skilled seasonal workers, relocating to the northern hemisphere during the off-season at home.
GSM is a name commonly used in Australia for a red wine consisting of a blend of Grenache, Shiraz (a.k.a. Syrah), and Mourvèdre. This blend originated from those used in some Southern Rhône wines, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Grenache is the lightest of the three grapes, producing a pale red juice with soft berry scents and a bit of spiciness. As a blending component, it contributes alcohol, warmth and fruitiness without added tannins. Shiraz can contribute full-bodied, fleshy flavors of black fruits and pepper. It adds color, backbone and tannins and provides the sense of balance such blends require. Mourvèdre contributes elegance, structure and acidity to the blend, producing flavors of sweet plums, roasted game and hints of tobacco.
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