Diversity is a factor which we can
I’m writing this as the Australian financial year draws to a close. Quite a year it has been for Australian wineries exporting their wares to the world. 2021 was for many regions an outstanding vintage but it came hot on the heels of the hammer-blow of punitive tariffs from our largest export market. Australian wine producers need to export; that much is a fact. So, in a world which is awash with wine and there is an abundance of choice what is the compelling argument which will persuade you to buy Australian wine in preference to anything else? That our winemakers are some of the nicest, most entertaining ladies and gentlemen in the vinous universe probably doesn’t cut it. Our wines are certainly up there with the world’s finest on a dollar for dollar basis. But quality is something of a universal given these days too, so that’s hardly compelling as a single, must-buy-Australia, reason.
Diversity is a factor which we can claim. Yes, we have our share of the big-name grape varieties which capture the mainstream consumers’ interest as well as provoking wine writers to reach for the international benchmarks by way of direct comparison. Increasingly we have the not-so-well-known along with the down-right obscure. These wines, the Grillo, the Harslevelu, the Picolit and the Piedirosso will enchant even the most cosmopolitan of wine lovers. Australia’s viticultural founding fathers brought in an unknown number of grape varieties; many duplicates and many as it turned out, mis-named.
Over the years we’ve sorted out the names and focused on a few varieties which have made our vinous reputation. Since the turn of the century winemakers have been looking for and planting that point of difference. It will be a while before Grillo becomes a household name but then, before 1980 not many Australians had heard of, let alone drunk, a Chardonnay.
So, besides quality and diversity what has Australia got to offer? Well, how about the spirit of continuous improvement? Most of our winemakers studied oenology at one of two universities. They are a small, close-knit community. A small close-knit community full of rivalry. Rivalry which makes it all the harder when your erstwhile classmate takes away the trophy for best wine of the show while you take away a medal or two from the wine shows which pepper the industry calendar. Obviously you’ll share in the victor’s celebration, but you’ll be plotting your way to the top for next year’s wine show. How can I make my wine better? What can I do in the vineyard, what can I do in the winery? What is going to make my wine trophy-worthy? Australian winemakers are not ones to rest on their laurels.
Quality, diversity and continuous improvement. Together they do form an utterly compelling argument for Australian wine.
Cheers, and here’s to FY2021/22
Phil Reedman MW
Editor Wine Showcase