Thu 24 Apr 2014

Australian wines with a sense of place


When I first started in the wine trade, nearly a quarter of a century ago, there was a certain sense that ‘terroir’ was a word somewhat derided by Australian wine producers. These were the heady days of big bold flavours, big brand marketing and cross-border blending. The point was to make pleasurable, consistent wines that matched customers’ perceived tastes. This was something the Australians did exceptionally well, turning on a whole new generation to the delights of wine and for this we are all grateful.

But at The Wine Society we have never been the biggest champions of this style of wine preferring to seek out individuals who make wine on a much smaller scale; wines with an extra dimension that talk of the land which made them. Wines which our members tell us they appreciate. Our growers down under do talk about their ‘patch of dirt’ (some even say ‘terroir’) and many have several generations’ worth of knowledge and experience of tending their vineyards. And just because Australia is referred to as the ‘new world’ it none-the-less is home to some of the world’s oldest vines. When it comes to soils, it has some of the oldest on the planet and it is the ever increasing understanding of these and their potential for fine-wine making that is what makes the Australian wine scene so exciting.

Cullen Estate vineyard, Western Australia, a blessed spot on the viticultural map

Cullen Estate vineyard, Western Australia, a blessed spot on the viticultural map

When we asked some of our growers to tell us about their particular ‘patch of dirt’. Naturally they all said their region was the best and why would you want to make wine anywhere else (!) but they also provided us with some great videos and images to help paint the picture and explain how they get the best from their soils.

Chester Osborne of d’Arenberg talks about how he looks after his 100-year-old grenache vineyard in McLaren Vale and shows us what the infamous dead arm looks like. Vanya Cullen of Cullen Winery in Margaret River tells us what makes their cabernets unique, not just in Australia, but in the world. She also gives some insights into biodynamic winemaking of which she is a keen proponent. There are plenty of a atmospheric images to give the flavour of each region too.

We hope you enjoy reading what they have to say and watching their videos. Do let us know what you think of our Australian Regional Heroes article by leaving a comment at the end.


Meanwhile, our offer of wines from the best ten regions down under is open until Sunday 18th May while stocks last.

Categories : Australia


  1. Jane Carr says:

    Am being idiotic? How do I access the videos?!

  2. Wayne Wright says:

    When I lived in Oz, many years ago, most wineries held an annual “Grape and Graze” (or similar named) event. Restaurants in the nearest city, e.g. Adelaide/Barossa or Newcastle/Hunter Valley, would team up with the wineries and offer an appetizer sized portion of food matched with a glass of wine for a very reasonable price. One moved from winery to winery (bus tours specialize in this) and not only got a great appreciation of the local wines but also a lesson in food & wine matching all whilst enjoying a unique experience in the Aussie sunshine. Can’t think of a better, more relaxed and informal fun way to get to know a country’s wines! They may have evolved into weekend festivals nowadays but I thoroughly recommend these to any member visiting Oz.

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