WSET Level 3 Revision | Australia
- Due to latitude => main growing regions have warm or hot climates.
- Mostly Mediterranean
- Low rainfall => Drought can be a significant problem.
- Dry conditions + high summer temperatures => bush fires => damage or destroy vineyards, smoke can come into contact with grapes causing pungent taint in the wines => producers seeking sites with cool or moderate climates (high altitude locations on the mainland and in Tasmania, which has a more southerly latitude).
- Cooling affects from Altitude (e.g. Adelaide Hills and Eden Valley) & Ocean (Southern or Indian Ocean or the Murrey River system).
- States (South Australia)
- Several states (South Eastern Australia)
- Part of a state, but with the possible exception of Barossa these zones are rarely seen on labels.
- Such as Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Margaret River
- Consistent and distinct qualities from neighbouring regions.
- Many regions are split into sub-regions, if there are notable areas that have distinct and unique qualities
- A sub-region must fall within one region, some regions are covered by several zones
- Example: Eden Valley is a region within the Barossa zone, which is within the zone of South Australia, which, in turn, is within South Eastern Australia zone. => This gives producers a variety of options when it comes to making up their blends.
- Shiraz: Grown widely in most regions.
- Hot regions (Hunter Valley) + Warm regions (Barossa Valley): Full bodied, intensely fruity Shiraz => Often display earthy or spicy notes, develop leather aromas as they age.
- Cooler regions (Geelong & Heathcote): Leaner, more peppery style.
- These qualities may be combined in a multi-regional blended wine.
- Used to give softness and body to blends with Cab Sauv (similar to Merlot in Bordeaux).
- Cabernet Sauvignon:
- General darker, with firmer tannins and higher acidity than Shiraz
- Ripe black fruit characters (blackcurrant, black cherry), underpinned by toasty oak notes.
- Merlot: Tends to be found in blended wines typically alongside Cab Sauv, to provide body and fleshy, plummy fruit.
- Pinot Noir:
- Cool or moderate sites in regions such as Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Tasmania.
- Medium-bodied, medium alcohol, medium to high acidity and typical flavours of cherry and strawberry.
- Petit Verdot*
- Mataro (Mourvèdre)*
*Late ripening varieties => suitable in hot regions.
**Well adappted to high summer temperatures and a limited water supply.
- Chardonnay: Most planted white wine grape in Australia.
- Basic Chardonnay: blend from different regions, produced unoaked to give peachy flavours, or with the aid of oak chips or staves to add hints of toast and vanilla.
- High-quality: from cool to moderate regions (Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley) and even warm regions (Margaret River) => balanced with fresh, vibrant fruit complemented by subtle flavours from careful use of lees, MLF and/or oak maturation.
- Sauvignon Blanc:
- Adelaide Hills
- Concentrated passion fruit, refreshing high acidity.
- Classic region: Hunter Valley
- If harvested early: low sugar levels and a high acidity. Contact with Oxygen is kept to a minimum => light in alcohol, neutral in flavour => develop honey and toast flavours with bottle age.
- In Western Australia: much more herbaceous style, could be mistaken for Sauv Blanc.
- Barossa Valley: Fuller-bodied, softer style.
- Pronounced citrus fruit aromas and flavours (lime, lemon, grapefruit) in youth => toast, honey, petrol when age.
- Classic regions: Eden, Clare Valleys in South Australia, Tasmania, and the Frankland River sub-region of Western Australia (less citrusy, more floral).
SOUTH EASTERN AUSTRALIA ZONE
- Barossa Zone
- Barossa Valley:
- Outstanding Shiraz (full bodied, soft tannins, ripe black fruit, sweet American oak; develops leather and spice flavours when age)
- Cab Sau
- Notable white: Semillon: Fresh, unoaked style
- Eden Valley:
- Cool to moderate climate
- Outstanding quality Rieslings: intense lime and grapefruit aromas and a steely character. The best have longevity displaying marmalade and toasty characters after 10 years.
- Others: Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cab Sauv.
- Barossa Valley:
- Mt Lofty Ranges Zone
- Clare Valley:
- Warm climate with cool afternoon breezes, cold nights.
- Many vineyards are planted at altitude (300-400 metres), some even as high as 570 metres)
- Specialty: Riesling – dry in style, intense citrus and lime aromas and a high acidity => develop honey and toast characters with bottle age).
- Shiraz: fragrant, powerful and structured
- Cab Sauv
- Adelaide Hills:
- Moderate climate
- Planted above 400 metres in altitude
- Rainfall mainly in winter, soils have limited water-holding capacity => irrigation is often necessary.
- Refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, elegant Chardonnay (high natural acidities, pronounced citrus, peach aromas)
- Pinot Noir: still red wines or blending with Chardonnay => Sparkling wine.
- Clare Valley:
- Fleurieu & Limestone Coast Zones
- McLaren Vale:
- Warm climate with ocean breezes
- Shiraz, Cab Sauv, Merlot and Grenache
- Dark fruit aromas, soft ripe tannins
- Cold currents from the Antarctic, Maritime climate is moderate.
- Cab Sauv: concentrated, structured wines with characteristic cassis and eucalyptus or menthol aromas.
- Others: Shiraz, Merlot and Chardonnay.
- McLaren Vale:
Some of the coolest vineyard locations on the Australia Mainland.
- Around Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay: Ocean breezes => Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and grapes for sparkling wine.
- Further inland, the Great Dividing Range => a range of altitudes and aspects:
- High altitude: Macedon Ranges and Upper Goulburn): Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauv Blanc.
- Lower slopes: Shiraz, Cab Sauv (fresher and lighter in style than those from Aus’ hotter regions).
- Yarra Valley:
- Cool to moderate climate & maritime with a wide range of altitude and aspects.
- Specialty: Pinot Noir (rich in fruit, strawberries, plums and dark cherries, soft tannins)
- Others: Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cab Sauv
- Mornington Peninsula
- Cool to moderate, maritime climate
- Small boutique estates
- Cool, wet and windy weather
- Grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
- Similar climatic conditions to the Mornington Peninsula
- Grape varieties: Pinot Noir (earthy aromas), Shiraz (fresh and peppery) and Chardonnay.
- Sparkling wines
- Cooling influences from altitude => moderate climate
- Shiraz: firmer structure and fresher fruit flavours (than those of warmer regions)
- Others: Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Sangiovese and Tempranillo.
- Goulburn Valley
- Heat is mitigated slightly by the lakes and creeks associated with the Goulburn River
- Grape varieties: Shiraz and Marsanne (citrus fruit in youth and honeyed aromas with bottle age).
NEW SOUTH WALES
- Longest history of wine production in Australia.
- Main region: Hunter Valley
- Hot, humid climate
- High cloud cover + ocean breezes
- Suffers from unsettled rainy wheather at harvest
- Good canopy management => essential to minimise rot.
- Most planted: Semillon (light bodied, low alcohol, high acidity and neutral flavors => complex spectrum of toast, nut, honey flavours with bottle age).
- Other grape varieties: Chardonnay, Shiraz (black fruit flavours, soft tannins, medium body and an earthy undertone.
- Other regions:
- Margaret River
- Warm maritime climate
- High rainfall (in winter)
- Cab sauv => blend with merlot => Bordeaux style blend
- Chardonnay: Concentrated stone-fruit aromas, high levels of natural acidity
- Sauv Blanc (often blended with Semillon) => attractive gooseberry and tropical fruit aromas with high acidity.
- Great Southern region includes the sub-regions of Mount Barker and Frankland River, known for deeply coloured Cab Sauv, elegant, peppery Shiraz and floral Riesling.
- Cool maritime climate, cooled by prevailing westerly winds off the Southern Ocean.
- Started as a prime source of base wine for Aus sparkling wine => can make excellent still wines.
- Principal varieties:
- Pinot Noir
- Sauv Blanc
- Pinot Gris
- Cab Sauv (can rip in the warmest, driest areas).
Source: WSET Level 3 Text book