5 Underrated Aussie Wine Regions
The Barossa. Margaret River. Yarra Valley. We all know 'em, we all love 'em, and we all love the wines that come from them. Without these wine regions, Australian wine would not be what it is, and we wouldn't be where we are. But there is more to the Aussie wine story. There are regions that have been making up the fabric of wine in this country, regions who need a lil bit more love because they're punching above their weight. Challenging the status quo of the wines of their region, and Australian wine in general, with fresh takes on tradition or introducing new methods and varieties. It's really just goes to show that we really haven't experienced this excitement as a wine drinker in this country - the new world gets even newer!
We’re massively passionate about this place. For us as winemakers, it presents us with some of the most ancient soils on the planet and the challenge of making wines from arguably the most unsustainable wine region on the planet. We’ve been championing Fiano and Nero d’Avola grown in places like Wakerie and Barmera with minimal irrigation since 2014 and every year our beliefs are affirmed that we can do this and make world class wines. But even better - it’s not just us. We’re always running into mates in the vineyards working with the same awesome fruit and doing remarkable stuff with it. Con-Greg Grigoriou is making some interesting but oh-so-smashable wine from our faves plus also some Montepulciano and Vermintino under Delinquente. Brad Hickey from Brash Higgins, who for the most part sticks to McLaren Vale, makes a smoking Zibbibo in amphora from the same fruit we make our amber blend ‘Esoterico’ from and Tim Wildman is making some of Australia’s most delicious pet-nats in the business! Hell - the Ricca Terra farms project (who we would not have a lot of our grapes without) have started making wines under their own label with delicious results! It’s not just wine by volume in the desert any more. Welcome to flavour country.
Photo Courtesy of Wine Selectors
Booze from Queensland has gotten a bad rap for a long time. The Mighty Milton Mango (XXXX Gold for those unacquainted with that particular colloquialism) and Bundaberg Rum has been the driving force behind this - but we’re known to enjoy a mango or a black rat or two. With that being said, we’re really excited by the Granite Belt, as not only is it fascinating geographically, the wines that we’re seeing emerging from here, we are loving! It’s a cool climate region in the middle of Queensland which at first thought does not compute - it drops below zero over winter! - but it’s 1000m above sea level surrounded by a massive span of granite (duh) around 200 million years old! Incredibly unique - as are some of the wines we’re seeing from there. Witches Falls have become a staple of the Belt, with classy wines and now playing around with some Fiano (yay!), the low-fi legends Konpira Maru have some of the best wine labels in the business with some Admiral Ackbar laden Semillon, a delicious Nebbiolo/Semillion rosé and a hilariously titled “La Douche” Verdelho - cheeky, and the 2019 Young Gun of Wine shortlisted La Petit Mort are cranking out some super left of centre wines, with some special Shiraz and skinsy Viogner, Marsanne and Roussanne blend from Amphora! If you can get away from the beach next time you’re up in QLD, give the Belt a crack - it rocks (sorry).
Photo Courtesy of Canberra District Wine Association
Ahh the capital of our great nation - for some reason - famed mostly for politics, roundabouts and the fly in point for snow season. It’s reasonably overlooked for a holiday, VERY overlooked if you’re basing your holiday for wine. But we’re here to let you know that maybe you should start considering it, as there has been something brewing in the Canberra District that’s thrilling us. It’s a cracker of a cool climate, there’s phenomenal icons of the region like Lark Hill (the first winery to plant Grüner Veltliner in Australia) and Clonakilla (with their notorious co-ferment Shiraz Viogner) who have put the District on the map, alongside some renegades shaping the region's future. Mallaluka are pumping out some incredibly valued wines and we couldn’t possibly mention the Canberra district without mentioning Bryan Martin at Ravensworth. Nebbiolo Rosé under flor for 2 years? Seven Month skin-contact amber blend in ceramic egg? True turbo-weirdo. Exciting stuff.
Photo Courtesy of Visit Melbourne
When the city slickers of Melbourne are looking for a vinous getaway just outside the city, the Yarra Valley is generally the first name that springs to mind - understandably so! But we’re avid fans of something a little bit further west - The Grampians, probably Australia’s most picturesque wine region. Part of the draw card of this stunning part of Victoria is the natural surroundings, making this an ideal camping wine holiday but The Gramps is home to some of Australia’s most iconic old vine producers. Best’s Great Western is a clear cult favourite, some of the best value wines in Australia, bang-on Rieslings and Chardies - and a super yummy Dolcetto - alongside some monumental Pinot Meunier and Shiraz. Mount Langi is another winery of the same ilk (again - legendary Shiraz) making wines in a bit more of a modern style of late (skinsy Pinot Gris!) It’s old school cool in spades, a stalwart region of the Australian wine industry, too often forgotten, but it’s worth a Grampian glamping holiday - Gramping!
Coonawarra + Mount Gambier
Photo Courtesy of Wine Australia
OK, OK, OK - hear us out - the Coonawarra is very well known, and Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is a key part of the Australian wine story. But it’s become a bit daggy, something that Dad drinks and is frowned upon - like a band from the 90’s that’s forever going on reunion tours. But when was the last time you actually went? Tried any wines from new producers doing interesting things? Penley Estate have been making wines that re-imagine traditional Coonawarra varieties, with bold blends, of-course using Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon - and some particularly smart Cabernet Franc! Bellwether have been introducing some amazing wines with smart viticulture - another stellar Cab Sav - along with venturing elsewhere, like Wrattonbully (an honourable mention for an underrated wine region), Tasmania (a serious Chardonnay) and our beloved Riverland with some alternative varieties like Montepulciano and Bianco D’alessano. What about down the Limestone Coast to gorgeous Mount Gambier? Ottelia, while based in the Coonawarra, have made a name for themselves with bargain Gambier Riesling getting 98 points (!!!) from the almighty James Halliday. Good Intentions Wine Co. have been cracking out some supremely drinkable minimal intervention wines that express the unique volcanic terroir of the limestone coast. Maybe a trip down south east is worth a revisit...