Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

What to Taste, Where

We all know by now that a good wine is the product of the blood, sweat and tears of talented viticulturists and winemakers as well as some crucial environmental factors:

Soil type and fertility: For example: sandy soils result in aromatic wines, low in tannin and pale in colour where as clay-based soils retain water and tend to be cooler, driving rich, bold reds and whites and the fine grains of silt soils retain water and heat, leading to delicate, lightly-coloured wines such as Pinot Noir. 

Climate: general, year-round weather conditions are referred to as the climate. Cool, dry climates produce crisp, light, fruity wines whereas warm climates lend themselves to bigger, bolder wines with less acidity and lush fruit flavours.

Weather conditions: sun, wind and rain will make or break a vintage. The weather in spring determines the quality of the vintage, but it’s the last six weeks that dictates the quality of the fruit. Late rain will cause grapes to rot and frost can damage already ripened fruit. Too much sun will “overcook” the grapes, resulting in overripe flavours.

Drainage: vines need water, but they ripen best when water is just within reach. A vineyard with natural drainage (via rocky soils etc.) results in a wine of concentrated flavours, but too much water yields “overblown” fruit.

Different grapes also respond well to different environments.  It stands to reason therefore that in the vast southern states of Australia where a variety of different climates and terroir exist, that certain grapes shine in certain regions.  Every wine region has at least one wine that it has had particular success with, or become known for.  When faced with a challenging wine list, these are often the 'go to' pairings of region and variety that we can rely on.

Here's a handful of wine + region pairings to fall back on, if in doubt.

Tasmania: Sparkling wine

Around half of Tasmania's Pinot Noir and three quarters of its Chardonnay is now highly prized for sparkling wine, with several specialist sparkling houses and many of the island's sparkling wines winning awards and acclaim at home and overseas. In fact, in 2015, a Tasmanian sparkling wine made history by being named the first sparkling wine to win Champion Wine at the National Wine Show of Australia.  

The success of the Tasmanian wine industry is thanks largely to a landscape dominated by dolerite-capped mountains that shelter the island’s wine regions from high winds and rainfall. The vineyard soils are formed from ancient sandstones and mudstones and also from more recent river sediments and igneous rocks of volcanic origin. Tasmania also enjoys a moderate maritime climate and, as such, enjoys seasons free of extremes in temperature, ideal for grape growing as it allows the grapes to ripen slowly on the vine, resulting in maximum flavour development.

In a few weeks, Josef Chromy Wines just outside Launceston will host the fourth annual Effervescence Tasmania festival, celebrating Tasmania’s most celebrated export.

If you can't make it to Effervescence, consider Josef Chromy's The Art of Sparkling Experience: go behind the scenes and tour the Josef Chromy winery and learn the how traditional method Sparkling wine is made. The art of making sparkling is explained (and tasted along the way) from base wine to corking and wiring. The tour commences at the Cellar Door and takes in the history of the vineyard and the Tasmanian Wine Industry and ends with a delicious two-course lunch.

Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills: Pinot Noir

Exceptional Pinot Noir producers can be found in the USA (Oregon and California), New Zealand and Chile but here in Australia cooler-climate regions such as the Yarra Valley, Mornington PeninsulaAdelaide Hills are producing some of the world's best.

Pinot Noir is a wine that goes well with all types of food, from seafood to cheese to duck and is even light enough in alcohol to be drunk on its own.  It is a fail-safe option for a function or dinner party.

Pinot Noir is often consumed while it is young however it can be cellared and many will continue to evolve beautifully for up to 10 years.

All things Pinot are celebrated on Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove's popular experience, the Ultimate Pinot Lovers Road Trip. A full day of discovery exploring the various vineyard sites that contribute to the diversity and quality of Montalto's range of Pinot Noir.

McLaren Vale: Grenache

Long overlooked and underestimated, Australian Grenache is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and in recent years has become known as something of a McLaren Vale speciality, where various soil types and the gentle martime climate contribute to a wide diversity of style that various from rich and robust to a more refined, lighter style, sometimes compared to Pinot Noir.  Grenache ages beautifully making it a reliable cellaring option.

Did you know that today (15th September) is International Grenache Day? d'Arenberg and Wirra Wirra in McLaren Vale are not letting this day go unrecognised.  d'Arenberg is celebrating with a loud shirt competition.  Email a picture of yourself in your loudest most Chester-esque shirt to wine@darenberg.com.au and you could be in the running to wine a mixed 6-pack of d'Arenberg Grenache.  Over at Wirra Wirra, the cellar door team will be pouring 2010 Original Blend Grenache and a 2010 The Absconder Grenache alongside current releases while stock lasts across this weekend. 

Margaret River: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay

While historically the Margaret River Wine Region has been known predominantly for the incredible quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon, the area is also renowned for making some of the world's best Chardonnay. Other varieties that have attracted worldwide acclaim include Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot and Shiraz.

Join Voyager Estate for the Heroes of Margaret River Guided Tasting, where you’ll taste through Voyager Estate’s latest releases and museum vintages of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, as well as two styles of Sauvignon Blanc Semillon as a comparative tasting. Next, head for restaurant for a three-course Regional Discovery Menu that showcases the finest Margaret River produce, and of course, some delicious Voyager Estate wines to match.

Hunter Valley: Semillon

The Hunter produces wine from a variety of grapes including Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Verdelho, however Hunter Valley Semillon is widely considered the iconic wine of the region. First planted in the region in 1830, the grape has been produced and variously labelled as Hunter Valley Riesling, Shepherd's Riesling, Hock, Rhine Gold, White Burgundy and Chablis. The Semillon grape possesses a unique profile which, in the harsh climate and humidity of the Hunter, develops to higher acid levels than it can achieve in cooler climates. In its youth it exhibits strong citrus and grassy notes however with age (10 plus years) in the bottle it develops into a rich, minerally wine with biscuit notes. The character of the wine changes so much that, in maturity, it is often mistaken for oak aged Chardonnay, despite never having spent any time in oak barrels.

Semillon is the ideal seafood wine, pairing beautifully with shellfish, crustaceans and most fish.  From a chilled seafood platter to old fashioned fish and chips, Semillon is the perfect accompaniment.  

On the Audrey Wilkinson Behind-The-Scenes Premium Experience, you can meet chief winemaker, Jeff Byrne in the heart of the working winery for a private tour of the winemaking process. Taste wine directly from the barrel while learning from the expert all details of the grapes’ journey to the bottle.

Barossa Valley: Shiraz

A pairing that rolls off the tongue as easily as fish n chips, the Barossa Shiraz partnership is Australia's most famous and enduring.  

With vineyards dating back to 1843 Australia has the world’s oldest Shiraz vines still in production.  There are ungrafted, pre-phylloxera Shiraz vineyards spread across Australia with the single largest repository in the Barossa Valley.  Shiraz thrives in moderate to warm climate areas.  Barossa Valley Shiraz can be characterised as full-bodied, richly textured with blackberry, pepper and spice characters.

On the St Hugo Prestige Experience, discover the Barossa Valley in style with a private helicopter flight to the home of St Hugo.

You will be taken on a subregional wine journey, inspired by Hugo Gramp’s legacy and his pursuit of excellence as you taste the finest old vintages and special blends. Discover the St Hugo history and wines with a private tour of the estate.

Enjoy an 8-course lunch created to perfectly match our St Hugo wines. So that you can toast to your success and prosperity in the future. This experience also includes a special St Hugo gift package.