Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Overview of Australia's Wine Regions - Part 4

Part 4 - Characteristics and Grapes of Australia's Smaller Wine Regions

In Part 1, we discussed why Australia has become a renown wine producing country, and that all states and territories other than the Northern Territories and Queensland produce high quality wines.   In Part 2, we described where Australia's prominent wine regions were located.

Discussing, even in simplest terms, each region, takes up some space, so I broke the wine regions up into the four large wine regions which I described in Part 3 (last  post):
  • Hunter Valley - about two hours north of Sydney, New South Wales
  • Barossa Valley - just north of Adelaide, South Australia with close-by regions of Clare and Eden Valley, and with McLaren Vale south of Adelaide
  • Yarra Valley - about an hour north of Melbourne, with close-by regions including Mornington Peninsula and Geelong, south of Melbourne, and Heathcote, Victoria northwest of Melbourne and on the way to Bendigo, Victoria
  • Margaret River - about 4 hours south of Perth, Western Australia
In Part 4 (this post), we will now describe what makes each smaller region so special and what grapes grow best in those regions:
  • Rutherglen - about half-way between Sydney and Melbourne, close to the New South Wales and Victorian border and the cities of Albury and Wodonga
  • Mudgee, NSW - about 4 hours northwest of Sydney, with some wineries relatively close by around Orange
  • Tasmania
  • Riverina - in southwest New South Wales


Rutherglen is one of the best wine regions in the world for Muscat.  They make a wide variety of great Muscats.  They also are known for their Durif wines.  Durif is a secondary grape, easy to confuse with other red grapes if you have not had it before.  They also make some spectacular Tokays, the Hungarian grape often used as a dessert wine.  See me blog entry on "What an Affogado!" for an overview on how special a Rutherglen Tokay can be!

I have not been there yet myself, but friends tell me it is a very nice region to visit with a lot of good food events and sightseeing outside of just tasting wine.

Rutherglen Top Wines:  Durif, Muscat, Tokay


Mudgee is much higher up and inland than a lot of wine regions, making a perfect climate for cold weather grapes.  Robert Oakley has some of his best vineyards in Mudgee.  Mudgee vineyards also ship a lot of grapes to wineries around Australia.

Some very good Cabernet Sauvignons come from Mudgee and a number of organic wines are made in Mudgee.

But Mudgee is mostly known for its dessert wines and iced wines.  They have a lot of sweet late harvest and Botrytis Semillon dessert wines.

While 4 hours outside of Sydney, it can make a nice weekend getaway.

Mudgee Top Wines:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Botrytis Semillon and other Desert Wines


Tasmania is a significant newer entrant to Australian wine regions.  With its cooler climate, it produces great Pinot Noir wines.

Tasmania Top Wines:  Pinot Noir


Riverina is not known for its great wines, but rather as the largest producer of wines in Australia.  About half of all Australian grapes come from Riverina, and many of them find there way into cask (box) wines.  Decent enough and very cheap, but not the type of thing I like to drink or write about.

Riverina Top Wines:  Cheap Cask Wines

This concludes the very short four-part overview of Australia's wine regions.  I will be following up with several blogs on where and how to buy wines in Australia and also with blogs in more detail on each of the major wine regions, including recommendations on some of the best and best-valued wines on the market.

Stay tuned and keep drinking smartly and safely!

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