Australia: Articles on Australian Wine & Wine Regions

Q&A with James Halliday, Founder of Australia’s Wine Companion Magazine, and winemaker

Respected Australian wine critic James Halliday has a career that spans over 40 years. Best known for his informative writing about wine, he is one of the founders of Brokenwood Winery in the Lower Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, and founder of Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley. Halliday is an authority on every aspect of the wine industry, from planting and pruning, to the creation and marketing of the finished product. He has served extensively as a wine judge and has contributed to more than 56 books on wine, and he is the author of James Halliday’s Wine Atlas of Australia, and The Australian Wine Encyclopedia.

What prompted you to pursue winemaking as a career? You were in the legal profession prior to wine, do you think this would have been the path would you have chosen?

Between 1962 and 1988 I had two lives, one in wine and one in law. Thus the question becomes academic.

Wines to Go Buy This Week: Bargetto La Vita and Tahbilk Marsanne

Wines to Go Buy This Week: An "Italian-fusion" California Red by Bargetto and Tahbilk Marsanne, a deliciously rare single varietal white. 

This past weekend we filmed the latest round of IntoWineTV videos (the first video will be live in about a week, we're moving away from wine reviews to wine discussions. Sort of a wine version of The View if you will). As is typical when we film IntoWineTV, the cast and crew had the luxury of indulging in many fantastic wines. Heck these shoots have almost become an excuse for everyone involved to share their latest wine faves. Over the course of the weekend I discovered two wines that made me do a double take and which are the basis for this week's "Wines to Go Buy This Week":

La Vita Label

La Vita, Bargetto Family Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2006 - This wine arrived in a recent California Wine Club Signature Series shipment (and kudos to CWC as yet again they delivered a hit. I love the Signature Series.). La Vita is an unusual California red blend in that it is made from the traditionally Italian varietals of Dolcetto, Refosco, and Nebbiolo. Traditionalists may scoff at the notion of a California producer making its version of an Italian red -I'm just waiting for someone to complain that this wine has "no sense of place" - but the end result is a delicious wine that reflects qualities of both California and Italy. If this were a restaurant this wine would be labeled "Italian fusion". No it's not authentic or traditional but it is delicious, unique, and well worth a try (though at $60 a bottle, it's hardly a value buy). Buy Bargetto La Vita

Q&A with Daryl Groom, Founder of Groom Wines

Originally from Australia, Daryl Groom has held numerous positions in the wine industry including Vice President of Winemaking & Operations for Peak Wines International, and Beam Wine Estates, and both Senior White Winemaker and then Senior Red Winemaker for Penfolds Wines in Australia. His foundation was producing Penfolds famed red wine, Grange, which he oversaw from 1984 until his move to the U.S. in 1990. He has been named ‘Winemaker of the Year by the LA Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, the Huston Chronicle, Quarterly Review of Wines, and others. He currently produces his own label, Groom Wines. He judges six international wine shows annually and has been on the NBC Today Show and a repeat guest on E! Television in the U.S. 

What's the difference between Petite Syrah, Syrah, and Shiraz?

QUESTION: What's the difference between Petite Syrah, Syrah, and Shiraz?

Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape.  It tends to be labeled as Shiraz in Australia and Syrah in the rest of the world (remembering that in France it is more likely to have a geographic name such as St. Joseph or Cote Rotie).  There are in fact different strains of Syrahs around the world and often in the same vineyard.

Geelong Wine Region in Victoria: Wine History and Innovation in Australia

Geelong is Australia's "comeback kid" wine region.  Swiss settlers brought their knowledge of viniculture and viticulture with them to Geelong and other parts of what is now the state of Victoria in the 1840s.  Unfortunately, Geelong's vineyards were uprooted when phylloxera arrived in 1875.  Almost 100 years later, Daryl and Nini Sefton brought winemaking back to Geelong when they established Idyll Vineyard (now part of Littore Family Wines), beginning a new tradition of family-owned vineyards and wineries that persists today.  Emphasis on hands-on winemaking, coupled with the characteristics of Geelong's three distinct sub-regions, give this Australian wine region a character all its own.

Coonawarra: Quality Wines From Australia's Terra Rossa Wine Region

Coonawarra, one of Australia's best-known wine regions, began as a grazing range.  Settlers who came from other parts of Australia and from Scotland bought up land in order to raise sheep.  Somewhere along the way, an enterprising farmer noticed a strip of land with paprika-red soil.  Today, that famously red earth, Coonawarra's terra rossa, is the foundation of the region's fame.

Yarra Valley: Quality Wines From Victoria's Oldest Wine Region

Australia's Yarra Valley is the oldest wine region in the state of Victoria.  It's also one of Victoria's best-known tourist destinations.  Just 28 miles from Melbourne, Victoria's capital, Yarra Valley attracts over two million visitors per year, according to the Tourism Victoria Research Unit.  This historic wine region, only one hour's drive from Melbourne, is a world away from the skyscrapers and tram-filled streets of downtown.

Mudgee: Australia's New South Wales Wine Region Shows Diversity & Quality

Mudgee is the third-largest wine region in the state of New South Wales, Australia.  Mudgee got its unusual name from its original residents, the Wiradjuri Aborigines, but it got its start in wine production thanks to a group of 19th-century German settlers who came to Australia with winemaking expertise.

Best Australian White Wines (For the Money)

If you take a look at the Australian white wines available at a typical liquor store, you probably won't see much diversity.  You'll find chardonnay and riesling, and perhaps pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc.  And, most likely, you'll be missing out on the amazing range of white wines available from Australian producers.

Barossa Valley: Australia's Flagship Wine Region

Barossa Valley is the best-known and, arguably, most important wine region in Australia. Any discussion of top Australian wineries or innovative winemakers will inevitably include some of the top names from Barossa Valley. The region is blessed with a wide variety of soils and a long history of family winemaking. At some Barossa Valley wineries, you can go back five or six generations to the area's original German-speaking settlers, ancestors of today's growers and winemakers. Barossa Valley's unique heritage is reflected in its top-quality wines, which come not only from large, long-established wineries but also from a new generation of boutique winemakers.

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