When you start getting deep into wine, it's really easy in Australia to start visiting some of your favourite wine regions, pretty much no matter what state you're in, and as now lockdown restrictions for most of us start to ease, you'll be itching for your next wine-related getaway - and I'm sure you'll have a few regions in mind! Maybe it's the Yarra Valley for you Melbourne-ites, the Hunter Valley for Sydneysiders, heading down to Margaret River for those in Perth, or likely in South Australia, going and hitting up the Barossa or McLaren Vale. But there are some incredible emerging wine regions across the country that you might not be thinking about, and a lot of them have an incredible history, and the best thing is they're just as close, maybe even closer! So we've got a lovely little list of some of the wine regions you should be keeping an eye on, whether you're just picking up a few bottles from a retailer, or if you're starting up the car already.
Victoria does cool climate wine. Pretty much all of their wine regions are some of the coldest in the country next to Tasmania, so of course, they're renowned for their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and by some accounts, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, but it's rarely the mighty Macedon Ranges takes centre stage. The Yarra Valley is like Paul McCartney, wrote the big hits that everyone loves, covers and karaokes, Mornington Peninsula is like John Lennon, a bit more thinking is required but still has the reputation of the really good deep cuts. If we're keeping with the Beatles comparison, the Macedon Ranges is George Harrison. Does he write as many songs? Nah - but they're all outstanding. Cobaw Ridge is like Taxman, Joshua Cooper is Here Comes the Sun, Dilworth and Allain are While My Guitar Gently Weeps. A visually stunning region with some remarkable young producers with excellent farming practices putting the place on the map. If you're visiting, make sure you visit the Woodend Wine Store - one of the best regional retailers in the country!
Once again an ugly duckling region in the scheme of Western Australian wine, but funnily enough is the second oldest winemaking region in Australia next to the Hunter Valley! Over the past 180 years, they've almost been lurking in the shadows, producing quietly, crafting some of Australia's Iconic wines (Houghton Classic White anyone?) and seemingly just plugging along, but the emergence of the natural wine and artisan producing movement, with young independent winemakers unable to purchase the acclaimed fruit down in Margaret River and Great Southern, the Swan Valley reared it's head, showcasing some incredible fruit from remarkable old vines at an attainable price point unlike some fruit from its Southern compatriots. Now the region is starting to brim with excellent young winemakers like Vino Volta, Chalari and the eponymous Swan Valley Wines, to give the region some of that contemporary vibrancy alongside its singular history.
It's hard to put a finger on "emerging" wine regions in South Australia as most of our regions are established as they come, but the one recently that seems to be springing to mind more and more as we start to hear rumblings of new producers is Langhorne Creek, and we are now to beginning to taste the future. While an interesting climatic choice of a region - think the same temperature as McLaren Vale except about half the rain - it's a region for alternative varieties, and that's what has our ears priced up. We're hearing rumblings of Charlotte Dalton play around with Langhorne Creek Fiano, Sven Joschke makes some ripping Dolcetto Rosé and Sangiovese, and we're EAGERLY awaiting the emergence of the dynamic duo of our good friends Josh Picken and Lachlan George with their soon to be released project, DILF (for those playing at home, it stands for Damn I Like Fermenting 😎). See? Rumblings. And it has us really, really excited...
A stone's throw away from the iconic Yarra Valley is the underdog that is Heathcote, which has a similar average temperature as the Yarra, with just a little less rain, where "alternative varieties" are becoming damned near commonplace, and that's pretty much because of the incredible Chalmers family. With an 80 hectare property just outside of Colnabbin, they grow 24 different varieties and supply to over 40 incredible winemakers in the region like Momento Mori and Minum Wine, alongside establishing new varieties in Australia like Nero D'avola (yay), and then going on to sell cuttings to growers around them, to establish their vineyards! Incredible. On top of that Heathcote has heritage, with producers like Jasper Hill who produce some of the countries finest Nebbiolo, and contemporary stalwarts like Syrahmi, producing fine examples of more traditional varieties. Heathcote has got it all...
We talk a little bit of smack about Orange because they don't let us call skin contact/amber wine orange wine, but honestly, it's a pretty great wine region, and there are more and more great wines we keep trying that get us stoked on the region and its surrounds! Swinging Bridge - under the tutelage of Tom Ward - are making some delightful contemporary wines, even some amber wine, and Word of Mouth are making some great alternative variety wines like Gruner Veltliner and Petit Manseng. The reigning Young Gun of Wine People's Choice Winner, Gilbert Wines is based in the region are now in the esteemed company of former winners like Dr Edge and Unico Zelo (😉). Some of the most fun natural wines in Australia coming from NSW from Frankly, This Wine Was Made by Bob. It's a pretty spritely little pocket isn't it - not to mention all the other little hidden parts nearby, and the Canberra District isn't too far away either! NSW has more than just the Hunter going for it!