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Types Of Australian White Wine
Types Of Australian White Wine
Australia is fast becoming one of the world's most prolific and highly awarded wine producers in the New World wine market, and Australians' taste for wine has most definitely caught up. With literally hundreds of grape varieties now being grown in various regions, and many more being introduced each year, the wine lover now has more choice than ever before.
Knowing a little about the types of white wines available and the best regions can help narrow your next search for the perfect white.
Chardonnay is now grown in many of Australia's wine regions, and depending on the terroir (environmental conditions in which it's grown) and the ripeness of the grape, it can range from citrus and herbaceous notes to a deep tropical bouquet. Chardonnay is also used in the production of many sparkling wines, and is traditionally blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in the production of Champagne in France.
The Riesling variety of grape, thought to originate in the Moselle and Riesling region of Germany, has been grown in Australia since the 1800s. It has been particularly successful in the Barossa region of South Australia, where German settlers first planted it in the 1850s. Riesling goes through a number of ripening stages, making it a very flexible grape for wine making. Unripe, it has a mineral and citrus nose, moving into rose petals and green apples as it approaches the ripe stage. The ripe stage of peach and honeysuckle develops into tropical fruit and lemon butter as it develops further.
Sauvignon Blanc is a grape variety that has done very well in recent years, particularly in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, the Margaret River region in Western Australia and in some parts of Tasmania. New Zealand's Marlborough region is well known for its Sauvignon Blanc, where the conditions for growing are ideal. As a wine, Sauvignon Blanc is often tart and dryer than a Chardonnay, but again, this depends on the stage of ripeness and the region in which it's grown.
Picked early, it has aromas of green apple and capsicum, later developing a deeper, sweeter flavour of peach, apricot and melon. Sauvignon Blanc is commonly blended with Semillon in Australia, giving it an extra touch of fig. When affected by the "botrytis" fungus, Sauvignon Blanc can be used to create a wonderful sauterne that resists being overly sweet.
Semillon has always been at home in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, which has become famous for its production of fine white wines. In more recent years, this versatile grape has made its way to the Margaret River and Barossa Valley, where its young grassy and herbaceous nose moves into a peach and fig bouquet as it ripens, finally resulting in a deep honey and apricot flavour.
Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris
Pinto Grigio and Pinot Gris are the exact same grape variety. Pinot Grigio originates from Italy where it is generally a crisp light-bodied white wine produced for early consumption. Pinot Gris originates from France where it is mostly grown in Alsace and is typically fuller bodied and better for cellaring.
Now widely planted through many regions around the world, in Australia these varieties have been particularly successful in the cooler climates of Tasmania, the Mornington Peninsula, the Adelaide Hills and the Yarra Valley. Over the past two decades, Pinot Grigio and Pint Gris have grown popularity in Australia and are now firmly placed in our mainstream white wine market.
The Verdelho variety, which originated in Portugal, has found most success in Australia in the Margaret River region of Western Australia and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. As an alternative to Chardonnay, it offers a fruity and crisp palette, pairing well with a number of foods, including spicy Asian and Spanish cuisines. Verdelhos are also used in combination with other varieties, including Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, to create crisp, dry white wines.
In recent years Australia has expanded the number of grape varieties grown and some of the world's most popular whites are now being produced to excellent standards in Australia. These include Chenin Blanc, Marsanne, White Burgundy, Boignier and Chablis.