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Wines from Australia

Country Profiles

Vines at Tyrell's Vineyard, Australia

Vines at Tyrell's Vineyard, Australia

Overview and History

Australia has had a wine “industry” for over 200 years but much of their original focus was on fortified wine styles like Sherry and Port. However, it was only in the 1950s and 1960s that saw the emergence of some table wines showing global relevance and potential. In fact, a national awareness and appreciation of fine wine beyond a very niche group of consumers only became apparent in the early seventies. Since then an explosion of production and quality occurred in most of Australia’s states. 

Australia’s wine evolution moved from cheap and cheerful, mass produced everyday wines in the 1980s, to full bodied blockbuster reds and heavily oaked Chardonnays, which found favour in the UK and USA markets, throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, on the back of high ratings from global critics. However this trend evolved significantly since with fine Australian wines becoming more restrained, sophisticated, elegant and world class, more easily being able to compete with the world’s best winemakers by moving away from heavily oaked styles to fresher leaner, occasionally more terroir focused, wines.

Key Grape Varieties

Australia’s main grape varieties are Shiraz and Chardonnay, which together make up 45% of the vineyard total. South Australia and New South Wales are generally known for warm climate varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, whereas Victoria’s best wines – are from cooler climate regions closer to Melbourne, such as Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. Tasmania to the south of Victoria is also well-known for cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Western Australia, with its maritime climate and soils often compared to Bordeaux, is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and related blends.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the third most planted grape variety in Australia, after Shiraz and Chardonnay, in total accounting for around 16% of plantings. Often produced as a varietal wine but equally as part of the classic Bordeaux Blend with Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc – Australia produces, arguably, some of the best value Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends in the world.


Whilst there is no formal regulatory classification system in place, from 1990 Langton’s Classification has become Australia’s own guide to the country’s finest wines. Entry is based on a wine’s reputation and track record at auction, and an updated version is usually released every five years – the seventh edition was released in 2018 and included 136 wines. Langton’s Classification is arguably more Michelin Guide than say the Bordeaux Classification of 1855 but is criteria based, regularly reviewed and has good credibility and influence.   

Key Regions and Sub Regions

There are currently 67 designated wine regions in Australia as part of a comprehensive appellation system. While the states are not “wine regions” in a formal sense, they are often the way consumers search for Australian wines. At this time we focus on four key states:



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