New World wines are giving Old World ones a run for their money, and Australia is living proof of that. Once looked down for being too “young” or “modern” for wine, now one of the most expensive red wines in the world, in fact, comes from an Australian label — the Penfolds Grange. These days, Australian wine brands are favoured for not only their quality but also their affordable price point and sometimes, interesting label designs. But with so many out there and some sporting origins that you can’t even pronounce — Coonawarra, Barossa, Tumbarumba — it can be difficult to pick out a bottle when you’re at the store. That’s where we come in to help.
A bottle of wine is always great to have on any occasion. Whether for a special celebration or simply to unwind after a long and trying day at work, having a bottle around is always handy. Now that you’ve experimented with Greek wines and learned how and when to decant your wine, it’s time to move on to the New World wines that are Australian wines.
Like anywhere you go, there is bound to be both expensive and inexpensive Australian wine brands. It all depends on your preference, but know that even the affordable ones can be equally as delicious as the pricey ones. You can find vineyards in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland. While not all states have vineyards, all states produce their own wine by sourcing grapes from vineyards in those areas.
The grape varieties that you can find in Australia are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Semillon, and Pinot Noir. You’ll notice that none of these grapes is native to Australia — they were in fact, brought in from European and South Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. Each grape variety has its own unique flavour profile. We can’t tell you which is more superior, because it ultimately boils down to personal preference and what you might be planning to pair the wine with.
With each state in Australia producing their own wine labels, naturally, there are too many to pick from. That’s where we come in, to show you which labels are most well-known and will guarantee you have a swilling good time. Read on.
How could we start the list without including one of Australia’s most known brand? Penfolds was founded in Adelaide in 1844 by Christopher Rawson Penfolds, an English physician that moved to Australia. The brand’s most known and most expensive range is the Grange, which can reach up to US$500 per bottle — that’s nearly RM2,000. If you don’t have that sort of spare change lying around, fret not. They have a mix of multi-varietal blends including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and more.
Margaret River is one of the most popular winemaking regions in Australia, and Cape Mentelle is one of the yields of the land. While they have a host of red and white wine varieties to choose from, our recommended one has to be the Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, a white wine variety with a distinctive taste of the sea. Its slightly salty and umami-like flavour profile makes it a good match with seafood.
Peter Lehmann Wines
The brand was established in 1980 by its eponymous founder in Tanunda, South Australia. Known to all as the “Baron of the Barossa”, Peter Lehmann Wines quickly gained popularity locally with its Stonewell Shiraz varietal, a wine that includes grapes from Lehmann’s own vineyard, Stonewell, in the Marananga district of Barossa Valley. But of course, there are also other ranges that you can pick from.
You’ve most probably seen Yellow Tail wines around the store, most identifiable by the aboriginal kangaroo drawing on the label. Currently, the sixth generation of the Casella family is making the wine in the small country town of Yenda, New South Wales. It’s a fairly young brand, established only in 2001. However, the owners have been making wines for decades. Despite that, Yellow Tail played a pivotal role in exporting Australian wines to America, putting it out there that Australian wines can also be excellent in quality at a fair price point.
Jacob’s Creek is another internationally well-known brand from Australia that you’d often see in Malaysian stores. Over in the Barossa Valley, Jacob’s Creek wines find its home. Its vineyards have been established for over 150 years, but they only really began releasing their wines under this label in 1976. Their Chardonnay goes through malolactic fermentation to give it the brand’s signature creamy mouthfeel. Afterwards, it is aged in oak barrels for further complexity and texture.
Hailing from Clare Valley where the finest and most delicately perfumed Riesling grapes can be found, naturally, that’s the one you should pick from Jim Barry’s wine label. Its grapes, that mostly come from the Florita vineyard, is famed for its quality yield of grapes year after year. But Clare Valley’s vineyards also manage to produce a full-bodied Shiraz, so be sure to try that as well from Jim Barry.
While other more famous brands such as Penfolds, Wolf Blass, and Jacob’s Creek may be known for their Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, one other brand you should look out for is Rockford. The wine label also produces an excellent range of Shiraz, especially the Basket Press Shiraz that locals are fond of.
While you might be familiar with certain brands using “Bins” to code their label, Wolf Blass prefers to use colour instead. Pick from their range of yellow, gold, grey, black, and single-vineyard platinum label to know what exactly is it you’re after. While they still retain certain traditional winemaking techniques, they’ve dabbled in the modernity of New World wines by using stainless steel open fermenters too.