Australia has an amazing array of climates which is reflected in the propensity of its wine regions towards certain grapes.

Marketeers are busy linking each region to its own grape – Clare Valley for Riesling for instance – but it’s more complex than that because it’s fun to explore different expressions of each grape variety from multiple regions. Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet all come in multiple guises and then there are blends with, for example, Sangiovese, Mourvèdre and Marsanne. South Eastern Australiais a catch-all appellation, this sobriquet allowing producers to blend wines sourced from Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. You might think this means trucking grapes huge distances, but it isn’t always so as these three states meet between the Murray Darling and Riverland areas which form the power house of the Australian wine industry. Irrigation from the mighty Murray River keeps these vineyards alive, and an awful lot of fruit groves too. The Wingara Wine Company is south of Mildura in Victoria and is the excellent source of our Tanners Shiraz, Sunnycliff and Sandford Estate wines. The Murphy family’s Trentham Estate, complete with riverside restaurant, is just north in NSW.

The big name line-up in South Australia makes this undeniably the home of the Australian wine industry. It includes almost all the county’s most famous regions and also the top winemaking school at Adelaide University. Just north of Adelaide you come to the Barossa Valley with plenty of old wine families of German origin, and very old vines too. Kaesler’s winemaker is Reid Bosworth who makes a full range of complex, flavoursome wines which avoid being ‘overdone’. Almost two hours north of Adelaide is Clare Valley where the Mitchell family grow vines on four sites in the hills behind Watervale. The Jim Barry winery is just north of Clare itself, and they too have a new generation of the family taking the helm, with Shiraz and Riesling also featuring heavily. We ship under their Barry & Sons label.

The temperate Adelaide Hills rise steeply behind the city. Here Bird In Hand and its Two in the Bush label were both named after gold mines, with owner/winemaker Andrew Nugent turning out regular gold award-winners. Moving round to the south of Adelaide, temperatures in McLaren Vale are cooled by the nearby ocean, helping Mark Lloyd at Coriole to make delicious wines which we have followed since the Bicentennial. Over the hills you come to Lake Alexandrina and Langhorne Creek where there are some super Shirazes and Cabernets to be found. It’s a long haul to Coonawarra towards the Victorian border, where fine Cabernets are made on a rather featureless strip of all-important Terra Rossa soil.

Melbourne is five hours from here going direct across western Victoria, but it takes much longer on a wine tour taking in the Pyrenees, Bendigo, Heathcote and Goulburn Valley. Cooler pockets for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are found in Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and Geelong, all easy drives out of the city. In the heart of the Yarra Valley, Mac Forbes (a person not a Scottish surname!) is regenerating old, neglected vineyard sites to produce wines with a real sense of terroir. Rutherglen, near Murray River and the NSW border, and is the production capital of Australia’s ‘stickies’. Here Natasha Killeen at Stanton & Killeen represents the seventh generation of a family making these superb sweet wines. Michel Chapoutier, of Hermitage fame, chose trendy Heathcote in central Victoria, for his base to make his subtle Rhône-like Tournon wines from nearby vineyards and further afield in the Victorian Pyrenees.

New South Wales is the historic home of the Australian wine industry, but has lost out rather to South Australia. The Hunter Valley is still important though, not least with its winery-lined roads, pretty vineyards, winery restaurants and golf courses making it a wonderful destination to visit from Sydney. Margan is a family affair with Andrew Margan making the wines and wife Lisa running a superb winery restaurant. We are also big fans of his wines under the House of Certain Views label, a nod to Pomerol’s Vieux Château Certan!

Western Australia is a massive state with only the south-western corner being climatically suitable for wine. Margaret River – ‘Margs’ to the locals – is three hours’ drive from Perth, whilst Albany in the Great Southern area is five. Surrounded on three sides by ocean and therefore often cool and rainy, Margaret River is renowned for fine Cabernets, Merlots and elegant whites. McHenry Hohnen was largely established through the determination of David Hohnen, the man who founded Cloudy Bay, along with brother-in-law Murray McHenry who is now in sole charge. Juniper Estate is very well located in the premium Wilyabrup District of Margaret River and its wines are skilfully made by Mark Messenger, formerly of Cape Mentelle.

Small in comparison to continental Australia, Tasmania is nevertheless a sizeable island, sitting like an upturned triangle, level with Wellington and Christchurch in New Zealand. Its southerly position leads to a cooler and windier climate than mainland Australia. The vineyards divide neatly into two: firstly the northern Launceston area with Tamar Valley and Pipers River, and secondly the southern Hobart area with the Derwent Valley. Tasmania is now home to most of Australia’s finest sparkling wines, but also produces great aromatic whites as well as some successful burgundy look-a-likes.


Various Grape Varieties
The same principle applies as it does in the warm climate of the Southern Rhône: blending is good to achieve completeness. The indigenous grapes of Italy and Spain are also good news.

Australia’s most famous vinous product, Shiraz – the Syrah grape of the Rhône Valley – comes in a variety of styles from medium-bodied and peppery to deep and brooding.

Merlot & Cabernet
Cabernet Sauvignon ripens consistently well in Australia, with Merlot hitherto being generally used in Bordeaux-type blends.

Dry White

Various Grape Varieties
White varieties that retain acidity and aromatics in the face of 40 degree heat are most suited to Australia, so a shopping basket of grapes which originate around the Mediterranean often performs well.

Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon’s crisp acidity works deliciously well combined with the fatness of Semillon, but both succeed on their own too.

Once a byword for blousy and overblown, Australian Chardonnays are almost becoming too refined as producers swing too far the other way. When done well, they take their oak nicely or impress as unoaked versions.


Late-harvested, super-ripe grapes deliver fabulous sweet flavours balanced by clean acidity. Please see our ‘Other Fortifieds’ for a great Muscat from Rutherglen.