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Australia's Wine Regions

Australia has dozens of wine regions. Here are 10 crucial ones, including sources for new-style Australian wine, such as Yarra Valley, Margaret River and Tasmania.
Australian wine regions.

© Peter Arkle

Margaret River

This far-western region, south of Perth, has gained acclaim in recent years for superb Cabernets and Chardonnays. Its vineyards are cooled by breezes off the Indian Ocean that delight the area's many surfing winemakers.

Bottle to Look For: 2008 Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc–Sémillon ($15)

Great Southern

A large, cool region, Great Southern produces a vast amount of wine. The best bottlings show a crisp, focused liveliness.

Bottle to Look For: 2007 Plantagenet Great Southern Chardonnay ($19)

Clare Valley

This bucolic region, which lies north of Adelaide, is known for being the heartland of great Australian Riesling, wines that are flinty, citrusy and able to age for years.

Bottle to Look For: 2008 O'Leary Walker Blue Cutting Road Riesling ($19)

McLaren Vale

Just south of Adelaide, McLaren Vale's lush, rolling vineyards produce some of Australia's top reds, primarily from varieties such as Shiraz and Grenache. The region's wines tend toward a rich, silky style with lots of bright fruit flavor.

Bottle to Look For: 2007 Epicurean Bistro Grenache ($15)

Riverland

Riverland might actually be called "Oceanland" for the ocean of affordable, easy-drinking wines that it produces, more than any other Australian region (even Riverina, the home of Casella Wines, which makes Yellow Tail).

Bottle to Look For: 2008 Banrock Station Shiraz ($7)

Barossa Valley

Barossa Shiraz—big, bold and luscious—has been the defining idea of Australian red wine in the U.S. for more than two decades. Many of the country's most sought-after wines are produced here.

Bottle to Look For: 2007 Boarding Pass Shiraz ($20)

Coonawarra

This rural region's distinctive, eight-mile-long strip of iron-rich red soil—"terra rossa"—has long produced some of Australia's greatest Cabernet Sauvignons.

Bottle to Look For: 2007 Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)

Yarra Valley

A center of the new style of Australian wine, Yarra's cool growing season is ideal for aromatic Pinot Noirs and streamlined Chardonnays.

Bottle to Look For: 2008 Coldstream Hills Yarra Valley Pinot Noir ($22)

Hunter

Hunter's humid climate produces plump, juicy Shirazes. A wide range of whites are also made there, including the region's long-aging Sémillons (which, unfortunately, don't generally make it to the U.S.).

Bottle to Look For: 2008 Cockfighter's Ghost Verdelho ($18)

Tasmania

Another up-and-coming region, Tasmania has in recent years become a source for top-quality Pinot Noirs and Rieslings (as well as Tasmanian devils).

Bottle to Look For: 2006 Moorilla Tasmania Pinot Noir ($25)

More Wine Tips:

Published March 2010
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