AUSTRALIA 2018 (1) | Introduction
posted on 21/09/2018

Australia, Australia
No one hesitates at life or beats around the bush in Australia
So if you're young and if you're healthy
Why not get a boat and come to Australia

-The Kings-


Kings got it right!


Australia is far away, in the southern hemisphere


Australia means "unknown southern land", from Latin terra australis incognita. A distant country that -although inhabited by indigenous peoples for at least 42,000 years-, its first modern state (New South Wales) was founded by Europeans just 230 years ago. A country with a size similar to Europe’s but with a very small population, only 25 million people (about twice the population of Greece).

Australia is located in the southern hemisphere and is made up of larger or smaller islands: the mainland -a vast island in essence- and several smaller islands, Tasmania being the most known of them. Its neighboring countries are islands themselves: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in the North and New Zealand in the South. The country is known for many reasons: kangaroo, koala and other marsupials, the Great Coral Reef, beaches and vast deserts, cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and, above all, the relaxed and stress-less Australian lifestyle. Finally, it is a country with a great climatic diversity: from very hot to very cold areas in both mild Mediterranean and continental climates.


In front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge


The Sydney Opera House, one of the most famous and beautiful buildings of the 20th century


Cosmopolitan vibes in the sunny harbor


What about vines and wines?

Australia originally had no vines (as opposed to America that had an endemic species of wild vines). The first vines arrived in Sydney from South Africa in 1791, but commercial viticulture was spread 30 years later by European immigrants bringing plants from their homelands. Australian wine has grown very big and is now commercially available at the four corners of the World.



A few decades ago Australia was still copying the names of European wines in her quest to find her own character


Today Australia sets the rules of the wine game on a global scale


What about quality? Are Australian Wines any good?

A fairly high proportion of production is controlled by a handful multinational companies, which usually produce indifferent and boring technological wines that are lost on the shelves of massive supermarkets. Excessively irrigated vines, must corrections at the winery (adding tartaric acid, removing alcohol, adding tannins, etc.) with an emphasis on branding are the keys of this market. Indeed, a lot of Australian wine travels in bulk and is being bottled at the countries of consumption; this way Australian wines are present around the world, even in local mini markets.


Of course this is only one face of the coin. Australia also has a very active community of small and medium-sized independent producers who have inexhaustible viticulture and winemaking knowledge and produce modern wine diamonds. There are producers who understand and know viticulture as few viticulturists worldwide and produce grapes of unique quality with respect to both nature and the environment. These grapes produce terroir wines with personality and character and are priced at prices that are often compared or surpass those of Europe's finest wines. I tried to target these last wines because... you only live once!


Vineyards and eucalyptus in Victoria state, in a healthy model of sustainability, local growth, and prosperity for local communities


Australia's most important wine-growing areas. I visited South Australia and Victoria (Source: Wine Folly)


* Originally published in Grape wine magazine (issue #11, pages 10-21)


Part two (Barossa Valley) – click here


~ Story in 5 parts: Intro (this one) / Barossa Valley

To be published: Eden Valley / Mornington Peninsula / Yarra Valley ~


Gregory Kontos, DipWSET

Wine writer and taster, sommelier graduate and WSET Diploma holder, with an appreciation for food, traveling, music, friends and bon vivant things in general. Founder of Aegean Wine Selections, a Company focused in Greek wine exports. He is married to Stavroula Mariamou and they have a son. 



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