Best wine in Australia: Guide to the country’s finest red and white styles including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc

So-called New World wines are no longer regarded as the poor relations of their more illustrious Old World counterparts, with Australia leading the way in an international wine making renaissance courtesy of the quality and depth of its production.

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Despite a wine making heritage that dates back only 200 years – compared to the thousand years that vineyards in Europe have taken to perfect their crops – the best Australian wines can now be found on wine lists around the world. The country produces over a hundred different varieties of wine, which have become endearingly popular across Europe – the United Kingdom now imports more wine from Australia than it does from France.

The best wine in Australia generally comes South Australia, with renowned wine making regions including the Barossa and Clare Valleys, and Adelaide Hills. Hunter Valley in New South Wales carries a respected reputation for its Shiraz and Semillon, while Victoria and Western Australia also have a part to play – and even the island of Tasmania has been attracting attention.

The country’s unique sparkling red wines have been making a massive comeback with many boutique wineries producing interesting versions using Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and some with more obscure varieties such as Tempranillo. The best wine in Australia also includes several white varietals of which Chardonnay is the most traditional, especially from the Hunter Valley region.

At Wine Paths, our local experts can organise exclusive tours of the best Australian wine regions, including elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and unique outdoor experiences. All of our private tours can be tailor-made to meet your exact needs, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can enjoy sampling some of the southern hemisphere’s finest wines surrounded by stunning landscapes.

Although there are hundreds of grape varieties grown in the country, only 16 different styles – eight red and eight white ­– are instantly recognisable as commercial sellers. Of these, the dramatic rise of Shiraz (known as Syrah elsewhere) put good Australian red wine on the international radar, followed by a supporting cast that includes Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and white varieties such as Semillon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Of the best red wine in Australia, Shiraz remains among the country’s most sought after varietals with the finest examples coming from the Barossa Valley region where it makes up the majority of premium wines from the internationally renowned producer Penfolds Grange.

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Cabernet Sauvignon has also been staking its claim as being the best red wine Australia has to offer, producing some bold and powerful styles, especially from Coonawara on the Limestone Coast where the unique ‘Terra Rossa’ soils are extremely accommodating. Of the softer red wines in Australia, Merlot is popular but lacks the complexity of its Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon rivals to be considered among the best best red wine in Australia. There are, however, some exceptional light-bodied Pinot Noir grown at premium levels – with Tasmania and the Central Otago regions gaining a reputation for their styles.

The country’s unique sparkling red wines have been making a massive comeback with many boutique wineries producing interesting versions using Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and some with more obscure varieties such as Tempranillo. The best wine in Australia also includes several white varietals of which Chardonnay is the most traditional, especially from the Hunter Valley region. There has been a shift away from oaked versions in recent times after the market was flooded with over-oaked wines in the early 2000s. Sauvignon Blanc has now usurped Chardonnay as the best Australian wine from white grape varieties. Adelaide Hills produces intensely fruity styles to rival those from New Zealand’s acclaimed Marlborough region.

One of the Hunter Valley’s most famous varietals is Semillon, which produces light-bodied, crisp wines and is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to raise its zestiness.

 

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