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Australian wine is more than Yellow Tail

The [yellow tail] range of wines have taken the world by storm. And so they should. They are excellent Australian wines which are consistently good. They have clearly won the battle for everyday wines at their particular price range.

But they are a made from classical French grape varieties, Chardonnay, Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. As such they represent the successes of Australian winemaking in the 1980s and 1990s.

What will be the wines of the new century? As the wine boom of the 1990s in Australia unfolded, a quiet revolution was taking place. The area planted to grapes expanded rapidly to underpin massive increases in production and exports of Australian wine. But a large number of vignerons and winemakers were also planting alternative grape varieties.

The profile of the Australian wine scene has changed as dramatically as the scale of production. During 2003 a new winery was opened in Australia every day. About half of these new enterprises were growing or using varieties other than the classics mentioned above.

As well as the less common French varieties, growers and winemakers have been pioneering with Italian varieties such as Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo and

Arneis. We have also the Spanish stalwart Tempranillo being increasingly favoured. Even the Russian red grape variety Saperavi is being used. There are probably one hundred wine grape varieties now being produced for commercial wine production in Australia. These new varieties are being planted in traditional areas as well as in new wine regions.

Australia, like other new world wine producers, is less inhibited to the strong ties of tradition that permeate the European wine industry. Since the start of the 1990s a strong predisposition for experimentation has permeated the wine industry. Australian wine consumers are now adopting this ethic. Wine lovers in the US and UK will soon be seeing a new wave of different Aussie wines to taste.

It is safe to say that Chardonnay and Shiraz will continue to dominate wine production in Australia for many years to come. But consumers will have a much wider choice is they are willing to be just a little adventurous.

About the Author

Darby is the founder of an information service spreading the word about exciting new winegrape varieties being used to produce wine in Australia. He lives in Melbourne and regularly vists Australian wineries.

Written by: Darby Higgs

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