I set out to write a post about Argentina. I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about how “up and coming” Argentinian wines are. I even went to Campus Fine Wines to buy some Argentinian wines to taste while writing. But instead, while studying Australia and tasting a 2007 Don Rodolfo Vina Cornejo Costas Tannat from Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina, I’m going to write about Australia – the 2025 initiative, and the reasons why I believe it can be accomplished.
“Aspire Australia 2025” is an initiative to explore and improve Australian relations through three different scenarios. These scenarios cover the breakdown in trust between individuals and institutions, improving international relations, especially within the Asia-Pacific, and the social changes and differences in generations. Within the idea of Australia 2025 is Directions to 2025. This is the wine communities addition to Aspire Australia. It is an initiative create by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia. According to Wine Australia the goal is to “effectively measure their business development strategies to ensure a sustainable future for the Australian wine industry.” Simply, the goal of Directions to 2025 is to make Australia the largest wine producer in the world.
There are 5 reasons I believe Australia to be well on their way to becoming the leading wine producer in the world.
• People have often thought of Australian wines as being fun fruity, kangaroo wines, basically nothing to be taken seriously. And I disagree. I think Australian wines should be given some of the most credit in the wine world. To start, Australia does not grow any native grapes. European grapes were planted in Australia over 200 years ago. Today, Shiraz is most widely known for being an Australian grape. It was actually taken from the Rhone Region in Southern France. In France it is known as Syrah, in Australia it’s known as Shiraz. Being able to take a grape from such a prominant wine region and make it so much your own that people often forget where it came from was a good start. That’s something serious.
• Geographically, Australia is the same latitude in the Southern Hemisphere as the wine growing regions of North America and Europe are in the Northern Hemisphere, so the climate is fairly similar, making it perfect to grow many European grapes. The climate in Australia is warm, dry and moderated by ocean breezes, and because of the warm ocean temperatures, the night temperature is high, keeping the temperatures stable and predictable, unlike that of California. Temperatures in wine growing regions of California can change drastically from noon to midnight because of the much lower ocean temperatures. Also, Australia is an extremely dry country, meaning their irrigations systems must be top-notch. The Murray River provides a basis for one of the most extensive irrigation systems in the world, and two-thirds of the vineyards in Australia benefit from this system.
• Australia is about 2.9 million square miles and only has a population of about 20 million people. This provides much lower land costs throughout the country. Prime vineyard land is not only inexpensive but is also plentiful, especially compared to the wine growing regions of the U.S and Europe. This gives Australia a significant advantage over other regions because they can produce high quality wines at competitive prices.
• Australia’s wine industry has been extremely innovative. Australia was the first to label their wines with more than one grape, rather than just the main grape. They developed a canopy technique to improve leaf and fruit exposure to the sun to increase yeilds without decreasing quality. And finally, Australia has developed a new varietal specifically to be grown in the warmer inland region of New South Wales. McWilliams’ Wines and the CSIRO (Australia’s government’s research body) created the Tyrian grape, a cross between Cabernet Sauivignon and Sumoll.
• Other than the U.S., Australia is the most technologically advanced wine producing country. Unlike European wineries, Australian wineries (like US) are equipped to handle both harvest and fermentation on site. The Australian Wine Reasearch Institute and technology has helped to preserve to flavor of the grape. This produces fruity white and soft red wines. This fruit-forward winemaking accentuates the natural characteristics of the grapes. It reduces the acidity and tartness of whites and the astringent tannins of reds. These wines don’t require long aging and therefore many wines are bottled within six or nine months of harvest.
The winemaking techniques of Australia may be very different from that of the old world European countries, but the world is changing, and Australia is just one of the countries adapting and moving forward. Tradition and the romantic value of Bordeaux’s and Burgundian reds will never be lost, but the wine world is changing and Australia has been ahead of that curve for many years. They are prepared to welcome the younger generation of wine drinkers with their new-age techniques. They have a goal that includes reaching out to their current customers and find new customers and I believe that Australian wines ones to watch. Not only do they produce inexpensive, easily accessible, drink young wines, they produce high quality wines I want to drink.
Once I figure things out a little more, I promise I’ll post more of my own tastings and reviews. I have notebooks full of tastings and notes so it may be a while before I get everything really sorted out and online. But I’m working on it, promise! Until then, feel free to use the NatDecants Wine and Food Matcher from Natalie MacLean on the right side. It’s very useful and if you go to her site she has thousands of wine reviews up for browsing.