10 Iconic Australian White Wines
Summer is near, and we're getting licks of the impending warmer weather. Beach days, park days, just days outside in the sun are fast approaching and we could not be more pumped. Warm days for us call for one thing... white wine! While we don't exclusively drink white wine in the sun (we've already talked about our love for chilled reds), we bloody love it - we love it so much we make 6 of them! 6 Fianos! So to coincide with the release of our two flagship Riverland Fianos, the über smashable Jade & Jasper and the slightly more serious but no less delicious Riversand, we've compiled a list of what we think are the most iconic white wines from around Australia. It's a mix of wines we LOVE, wines we respect, and wines we've... experienced. Regardless of how we feel, these are wines that are synonymous to their region are true titans, or wines that we just know one day will be.
We're starting with our home region, and while the Hills are home to some startlingly good whites (Piccadilly could be a contender for Australia's finest Chardonnay region, don't @ me) there is a wine that is surely the most notorious - Sauvignon Blanc. While many find "Savvy B" the bane of white wine (*cough* Marlborough *cough*), we believe there is something to be said for a well made one - exactly what Shaw + Smith does. They don't err too far into the intense tropical characters that others do, they're masters of balancing fruity with herbaceous, and a nice acid line that holds it all together. It's approachable, it's classic
it's become a staple of a pub wine list - which is no easy feat.
As far as their brand is concerned, for a winery that makes a pretty hefty volume, their commitment to responsible viticulture on their vineyards and is immensely admirable - which can be read about in detail on their website. So next time you're sipping on a Savvy B at the pub, you can relax knowing that it's made in the right way.
While Geelong is not really one of the regions you first think about when you think Australian Wine, but it's a quiet high achiever - arguably snubbed by us for underrated wine regions. But in Geelong there is only one at the tippy tippy top of true cult of Australian Wine and that's by far - ahem - By Farr. While Gary Farr was the man who brought Geelong wine to the conversation of great Australian wine, now the By Farr legacy is run by his son - Nick. Nick is making wines that are more his style under the banner of Farr Rising with seriously incredible results, but the By Farr winemaking style is still true to Gary's influence - and for good reason. Natural malolactic fermentation and only 30% new oak, it's a ridiculously good wine, a wine that every great Australian chardonnay lover just has to try.
A wine for the Australian Hall of Fame. Truly special.
The Hunter is a strange region. There is such a unique challenge attached to crafting wines there due to its 'subtropical' climate. High humidity and mid Harvest rains make this region hyper susceptible to mould, but somehow it's one of Australia's oldest and most important wine regions. Semillon is synonymous with the Hunter, where it's a total fish out of water scenario - but it works? It's a massive contrast to it's style in its home of Bordeaux - here it achieves such full bodied richness that it almost can be mistaken for oak ageing and malolactic fermentation, despite it more often than not seeing a complete absence of both. Albeit confusing, it's part of what makes Australian wine what it is, and Tyrrell's are partly responsible for its notoriety.
The Vat 1 is the definition of an icon.
A wine that's been made for over 50 years, and has received accolade on accolade. It's been handed over through generations and its reverence has not since its inception in 1963. A pillar of the Australian wine story.
We owe a lot to Coriole. In a notoriously red wine dominant region, known for full bodied Shiraz and Grenache, in 2001 Coriole planted Australia's first ever Fiano vines. In 2005 the first vintage was released. As far as a wine is concerned, it's a simple, fresh and outrageously delicious wine, it's as classic as Fiano can be - bone dry, crisp as anything but SURPRISE, 15% matures in old french hogsheads. In the context of McLaren Vale, it's created the largest growing white wine category in the region, it being now produced across the region by amazing winemakers like Oliver's Taranga, SC Pannell, Bondar, Lino Ramble - and it's spread outward across the country, now being produced from Margaret River to the Granite Belt! For us, this why we do it too. Australia's future of Fiano is looking grand and it just affirms our belief that this grape just makes so much sense in this sunburnt country.
This is the worst wine on this list. It's not good. But it can be a hell of a lot of fun... The Riverland, while we are dedicated to showing the unique sites and soils of the ancient land and committed to showcasing varieties that are more suited, is better known for better or worse, bulk cask wine production. Fruity Lexia is easily the icon of the category. There is no varietal breakdown or specified region, because who knows, all we know it's made by Berri Estates in the Riverland, but thats not the point. It's the first drink for rebellious teenagers, the cheap drink for those teenagers once they are in university.
Fruity Lexia is not just cheap, sweet, cask wine, its a rite of passage. Goon of Fortune anyone?
We've talked about this wine before because we just really, really like it. Clare is a special place and riesling is just so at home there. It has that searing acidity that the grape is known for but what makes it quintessential Clare is that crystal clear minerality that is the backbone of the wine. Grosset are the best at showcasing this, and their Polish Hill rendition is their finest.
Landmark producer, incredible farming practices and just, really bloody good wine. For any good Rieslingfreak, this is a must try.
Now this is a true titan. Thank the wine gods this land was transformed from a cattle farm to one of the most prestigious estate vineyards in Australia. Leeuwin Estates's 'The Art Series' is Australias most celebrated and iconic Chardonnays, and especially from Margaret River where the grape is endemic to the region - the only one with an Exceptional Classification by Langton's. It's 1982 was rated the worlds best Chardy by Decanter, the accolades just keep coming. All new oak aged for 11 months - it's hallmark Margs. While this is a delight to drink young, this will go a long way into the future. Bow down to the Queen of Margaret River.
Mac's one of our 'north stars' as winemakers, someone who we think just does it right, someone who is dedicated about expressing a sense of place in his wines and is one of Australia's most passionate ambassadors for Terroir. While his wines are highly regarded, he's not an icon of the region just yet. But if you've had the opportunity to try his Woori Yallock Chardonnay, you'll agree he one day will be.
This is some serious, serious Chard, but without too much winemaker intervention.
There's no malo, it's 9 months in old oak - it's all about purity. If you're into great Chablis, there is no need to look overseas, we've got it that good in our own backyard. Sublime.
Tassie is a hot region at the moment - mainly because its so cold down there. There is a lot being spoken about the potential of wine in that little island state, and there is a community thirsty for it. While there is a whole bunch of producers that are popping up all over the island (Two Tonne, Dr. Edge, Simha), sometimes you have to look back to go forward - enter Pooley. A Tasmanian icon whose winemaking has handed over from the late Margaret Pooley to granddaughter Anna Pooley and her brother Matthew, who takes care of the viticulture. The wines themselves? Scintillating - particularly worth noting is the riesling from Coal River, a grape that emerging as a stalwart in the region, being able to maintain it's trademark acidity due to long ripening periods because, again, that bloody cold (it's almost like Mosel!). Pooley's classic riesling is all class and an absolute barnburner, but in good years - if we're lucky - they produce the 'Margaret Pooley Tribute' a riesling of the highest order. Truly the apex of the style in the region and arguably the country. Phenomenal.
Viognier gets a bit of a bad rap as a daggy grape. At its worst it's notoriously flabby and waxy, so its totally understandable how it's got its reputation. With that being said, a well made one is a delight and perfect for a spicy meal. Yalumba are one of Australia's oldest and boldest wine producers.
The reigning champions of viognier
with 'The Virgilius' and it's well at home in the Eden Valley. It's still a big, full bodied white, aged on lees for 10 months in mature french oak, but it's nuanced, retaining freshness and florality without sacrificing it's lush texture. Maybe Viognier is worth a revisit?