From the outside, Australia as a wine-producing nation seems to have come from nowhere. Its wines have only made an impact on the international scene in the last two decades, and yet now it is responsible for more sales by volume in the UK than any other country, France included. The wines range from bargain basement reds and whites, up to the premium red wines such as Penfold’s Grange and Jim Barry’s Armagh. Of course, the view from the outside is somewhat distorted. Wine production, in both quantity and quality, has been a feature of Australia for centuries, not decades. It has well established wine styles that it can call its own, led by the splendid fortified Muscat wines. Sparkling red is also a popular style, and certain regions do wonderful things with the Semillon grape. And we haven’t even mentioned the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon based red wines.
Although a vast continent, the vineyards of Australia are mainly concentrated in the south east, in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. There are regions of interest elsewhere, however, not least is Margaret River, a relatively cool climate region in Western Australia. Most capital cities have a wine region close by, so if you are living in a major city and planning a drive into the country, you’ll never have far to travel if you’d like to add a little wine tasting into your itinerary.