A look through the wine glass
What does 2019 hold for the wine industry in Australia? From new varieties filling flutes, innovative local makers and growing Australian exports, there are some stand-out trends to observe as the new vintage begins to pour across the country.
THE YOUNG ONES
With the trend for earlier drinking, the demand for "fresh” wines continues throughout 2019. The shift by makers to produce red wines that are released young and ready to drink, without any or only minimal oak ageing, will mean an increase of these labels released in the market.
Not surprisingly we're seeing these wines made from "alternative” varieties (predominantly from Mediterranean countries) and from less "recognised” areas, such as the Riverland area of South Australia normally known for its bulk production.
As for alternative varieties, the Australian Alternative Wine Show held recently in Mildura, Victoria, had 102 different grape types submitted for judging. Get ready to hear more about white grape names like piquepoul, fiano and assyrtiko and red grapes such as montepulciano, aglianico and nero d'avola.
It's the quiet ones you've got to watch out for. The Clare Valley has long been known for world-class, long-aged rieslings, with a couple of "iconic” labels in Wendouree and Sevenhill. But there's a small revolution going on there, with new-generation wine makers such as the Barry Brothers (of Jim Barry fame), Marnie Roberts (fresh from Claymore wines with her Matriarch and Rogue) and the Koerner boys changing industry perceptions about what can grow in the region.
And there's no denying Tasmania is on a large upward trajectory. Leading the charge is House of Arras, collecting accolades across the globe for both its sparkling wines and maker Ed Carr.
But nipping at these sparkling heels are world-class pinot noir and chardonnay from the likes of Tolpuddle, Bream Creek (trophy winners of Best White Wine at the world's largest international wine show), Stefano Lubiana, Chatto, Stargazer and newcomers Sailor Seeks Horse and Mewstone.
Life wouldn't be much fun without bubbles and luckily we're spoilt for choice. From the dramatic rise in prosecco in Australia (50 per cent increase in the amount of prosecco grapes grown from 2016-17), the best quality is seen from the alpine mountains of King Valley in Victoria, with those of Italian heritage such as Dal Zotto and Pizzini.
Guaranteed, prosecco will continue to grow. We've got the French taking notice of our traditional method wines (champagne style) coming from our cool climate areas, specifically Tasmania. Established houses such as Arras, Clover Hill and Jansz already have world-class CVs but watch for new labels Bellebonne, Apogee and Delamere.
CELLAR OR SELLER
The biggest change to the way we shop was the internet and the big guys, like the Vinomofo juggernaut, won't be going away any time soon. These sites can stretch from clearance outlets to genuine wine clubs.
Yet we see a new generation of wine buyers craving authenticity and being exposed to producers through festivals such as Pinot Palooza and Wine Island, so visiting a cellar door is suddenly cool again.
Brokenwood in the Hunter has just revamped with an $8 million project and one of the Adelaide Hills young guns, Vinteloper, is all grown up, investing in a cellar door.