Rare Varietals Cure Wine Boredom

The future of the Australian wine industry will be shaped by a group of innovative grapegrowers and winemakers who are busily experimenting with new varieties in new regions.

The phenomenal success of the industry in producing quality wine at competitive prices does not need recounting here. But this success has led some critics to brand Australian wine as boring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A pioneering spirit has been sweeping the industry and this has resulted in a much wider range of winegrape varieties being used.

There are over a hundred winegrape varieties grown in Australia. In a recent book Varietal Wines, leading Australian wine writer James Halliday uses a classification of varieties into classic, second tier and Lesser varietals for both red and white. He identifies four classic whites (chardonnay, semillon, riesling and sauvignon blanc) and five classic reds (cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, merlot, shiraz and grenache).

The Australian wine industry is heavily dependent on these classic varieties. They are all French by the way; although there is merit in the argument that grenache can be regarded as a Spanish variety.

A supporting role is played by a cast thirteen white varieties and seventeen red varieties, second tier varietals in Halliday's language.

For the rest there are about seventy varieties that are used by ten or less producers. Let's call them the under-tens. They look like the also rans.

But this is the exciting part of the industry. These varieties are being used by people are the pioneers who are intent on leading the industry into new territory.

Some of the under-tens are survivors of an earlier age. Chasselas for example is now much less common than it was previously. Others have been introduced into Australia more recently from diverse European sources. Australians will soon be able to sample wine from such exotic varieties as Graciano (Spain), petit manseng France, lagrein (Italy) and Saperavi (Russia).

Yet another group of under-tens are of Australian origin. The Australian research body CSIRO has bred a few varieties to suit particular Australian viticultural niches. Cienna and tyrian are two such varieties

Two varieties, malian and shalistin have also emerged from a vignerons identifying and breeding from sports (mutations) of existing varieties.

Purists recoil in horror at this kaleidoscope of varietal diversity. But a closer analysis reveals that this diversity is a sign of a healthy dynamic industry. It is quite possible that the next success story in Australian wine will emerge from this group of under-tens.

If this seems a bit far-fetched, then look at what has happened to Viognier. In the late sixties the variety was virtually extinct, with just a few hectares in the Northern Rhone Valley. It is now seemingly ubiquitous, with plantings in other regions of France, California as well as in Australia. There are more a hundred winemakers using it Australia.

In November each year the diversity lovers have their day in the sun, both literally and figuratively. While Melbourne is preoccupied with horseracing the Australian Alternative Wine Varieties Show is held in Mildura, on the banks of the Murray River.

Growers and winemakers from throughout Australia and New Zealand will be showing of their products, sharing knowledge and experience as they plan to stretch the boundaries of Australian wine even further.

The end result will be an ever-widening choice for discerning winelovers.

About The Author

Darby Higgs is the founder of Vinodiversity an information resource about wines made from alternative grape varieites in Australia.

[email protected]

In The News:

Awards announced in wine, spirits industry  North Bay Business Journal
Top 100 Spirits of 2019  Wine Enthusiast Magazine Online
An Oenophile’s Tour of Denver  The Wall Street Journal
Fancy Liquor and Bar opens in new plaza  Hopkinsville Kentucky New Era
Is Natural Wine Dead?  The New York Times
The Eight Best Ladies' Nights in South Florida  New Times Broward-Palm Beach
Indian bulk first to meet on-trade thirst  Harpers Wine & Spirit Trade Review
Top 25 Beers of 2019  Wine Enthusiast Magazine Online

Ideal Wine Temperature

The ideal temperature to store wines is between 55ºF and... Read More

Red Wine Compound May Extend Life

Good news! A recent study suggested that resveratrol, a red... Read More

Australia Is More Than Jacobs Creek

The Jacobs Creek Brand of wines have taken the world... Read More

Who Made the First Wine Anyway?

Although details are understandably sketchy, it is believed that, around... Read More

Whisky Syndicates

Whisky syndicates are groups of private owners and many have... Read More

Choosing that Perfect Wine for a Dinner Party

So, you find yourself having been invited to a dinner... Read More

Wine, Wine, Wine

What in the world is up!Was there a full moon... Read More

Rare Varietals Cure Wine Boredom

The future of the Australian wine industry will be shaped... Read More

The Harmony between Wine and Food

Wine is a social drink which should be enjoyed in... Read More

Build Your Own Wine Rack (In An Afternoon)

A good drink is what even Gods enjoy and to... Read More

Beer, Wine and Your Bones

If you like the taste of a good brew, then... Read More

How Sparkling Wine is Made

There are three methods that may be used to make... Read More

Pairing Beer With Food

Pairing beer with the fine cuisine has recently come to... Read More

If You Plan On Drinking, Do These Critical Things Before You Leave The House

Buy a BreathalyzerA Breathalyzer is a portable hand-held device in... Read More

Uses of Mirror Tinted Contact Lenses

Mirror tinted contact lenses have become a topic of interest... Read More

An Idiots Guide To Wine Tasting

Have you ever seen those stiff upper-lipped types doing a... Read More

The Ten Most Important Wine Label Terms

For the average wine consumer, there is a plethora of... Read More

The Truth About Red Wine and Heart Disease

Red Wine, Heart Disease, Hungry Sharks and Knights in Shining... Read More

Guide To Tasting Wine

The basics of tasting wine are relatively simple to learn.... Read More

An Introduction to Wine

What is wine?Wine has been made for centuries from just... Read More

The Origin of the Cocktail

The cocktail has the distinction of being an original American... Read More

Wine and Your Health

During the 1990s, a physician voiced on a national TV... Read More

Hosting A Wine Tasting Party

As your love and knowledge of wine grows, it is... Read More

Enjoy Your Favorite Wine - But With Some Rules

The mere mention of etiquette brings to mind various images,... Read More

Barbera Wine

Barbera is a wine grape variety from Monferrato in Piemonte,... Read More