What's cool about Australia

Australia - Rebirth of the Cool

Somehow Australia was cool back then, and those Shiraz that suddenly appeared were that too. Of course, they were actually the opposite of cool because they had a lot of oomph and were powerful. But that was exactly what was exciting for us; because European wines were seldom powerful. Since then, however, a lot has changed in the world of wine. Robert Parker became popular with his point system and preferred exactly this powerful, concentrated style of wine that the Australians, for example, were so good at or the Californians. At some point the top Bordeaux châteaux also dominated it, and all these fat snails began to tire us more and more, especially since it became more and more obvious how technically most of these wines were made. Ten, fifteen years later, the Australian hype was largely over, and what was once cool became very uncool - Mel Gibson, for example ... But Cate Blanchett entered the international stage - a clear change in style.

Australian wines have become quieter. There are still quite a few lovers of classic Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon, and of course you can find big brands like [yellow tail] in supermarkets today. In between, however, there was very little to discover for a long time - at least in this country. But even in Australia itself, the wines no longer met the demand; because there, too, a lot has changed in the last 20 years. Australian cuisine has become a product cuisine - fresh with first-class, preferably regional, ingredients. This rather light cuisine was looking for fresh wines, and there were simply too few Australians. With the rise of New Zealand and its aromatic, crisp fresh Sauvignon blancs, the big neighbor suddenly looked quite old. The proud Australian wine industry was getting on in years, so change was needed.

Viticulture since 1822

Viticulture originated in Australia at the beginning of the 19th century with the Scot James Busby, who brought the first of the 362 different grape varieties to Australia in 1822. A few years later, among others, Christopher Rawson Penfold, Johann Christian Henschke, the Beringer brothers and Thomas Hardy followed. But the viticulture that arose in Australia was very different from that in Europe. Mainly fortified wine was produced in the port wine manner. It was not until Max Schubert, who rose to be the cellar master of Penfolds in the 1940s, that he had a different vision. Since Penfolds did not want to know much about visions at first, he bottled the wine, which he called Grange Hermitage, more or less secretly and experimented with the style between 1944 and 1951 until he officially presented it. The Grange, as it is called today, changed the Australian wine world. But it was not until the early 1990s that other wines from down under became known in this country in addition to the Grange.

Little known variety

The choice, however, remained limited. Over the years, the wineries changed in parts their style, which became very clear, for example, with the Koonunga Hills Chardonnay from Penfolds, which in the 1990s was very fat and buttery and had a lot of wood influence, whereas today it is more like a cool- Climate Chardonnay works. There were significantly fewer style changes in the red wines. And because that was the case, it was not noticed here in Germany that in the last 15 years a number of winemakers in Australia had finally started making cool wines again. And to a greater extent in a cooler climate, especially since Australian viticulture is confronted with the question of how its future will look in traditional areas because of climate change. Viticulture needs a lot of water - around 600 to 1,000 liters for each bottle of wine.

This is not a problem in areas where there is enough rain. However, where it is hot and there is little rainfall, such as in South Australia, it becomes a problem if the temperatures rise to 50 ° C in the shade - as in January 2019. The development of cooler areas is therefore also part of the survival strategy - also for the large wine groups. In Australia - and the people in the metropolises there now have a pronounced environmental awareness - it is no longer possible to use such high water resources for viticulture and later to sell a bottle of industrial wine cheaper than a bottle of mineral water.

The first appellations to emerge belonged to the island of Tasmania, southeast of the mainland, and to the higher Adelaide Hills, Orange County, Yarra Valley and the oceanfront Mornington Peninsula. The wines that came from these growing areas could, however, be drunk almost exclusively in England throughout Europe. Hardly any of them have arrived in Germany to this day. It has been sweaty for decades on both the German retail side and the Australian export side to publicize alternatives to the huge wine conglomerates. The focus was on uniformity, on one or two well-known internationally functioning wine styles and tried with a lot of marketing to portray the big bottlers as cozy, traditional medium-sized companies from the country - something like you do with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey.

To counteract this, it was our idea to find committed winemakers with small businesses who worked hands on and formed an alternative to the large corporations that bring together the grapes from vineyards that are sometimes 1,000 kilometers away from each other.

Cool climate

That's when we got to know Mike Aylward and with him one of the most exciting areas for cool and elegant Chardonnays and Pinots around Melbourne. It is the Mornington Peninsula, a peninsula off Melbourne and Port Philipp with a view of Tasmania, which is about 240 km away and is another cool climate area. Anyone who got to know his wines - in addition to Chardonnay and Pinot noir, there is also an unusual Pinot gris - was always amazed at how fine Australian Burgundy can be.

Now a few more members have joined the Wein-am-Limit family, who also represent other areas of Australia. The best known are certainly the Adelaide Hills, which can be found not far from the city of Adelaide around Mount Lofty. The hills are among the oldest wine-growing regions in South Australia. They were formed around 500 to 850 million years ago, are rich in loam and clay with sedimentary rock, weathered slate and iron stone. Today you will mainly find small wineries there - some are very classic, and some are real rock'n'rollers. The latter include Taras and Amber Ochota, two very free people who spent a long time wandering around California with their surfboards in the old Bulli, not only to find the right waves, but also the right wines, and the now stunningly lively ones Produce wines that have as much soul as we want.

Not far from the Mornington Peninsula or the city of Melbourne, just further east towards New South Wales, is Gippsland. There is no plaster of paris in the ground, rather it was named after the then Governor of New South Wales, George Gipps, in 1840. The rural region is fairly flat and has elevations of just 50 meters, but it is clearly influenced by the Pacific. The pinot noirs our new discovery, William Downie, conjures up there on black clay and red clay is absolutely touching and should blow every Natural Wine tasting; because who would expect such naturally pure Pinots at the other end of the world?

We are particularly happy that we managed to get a few boxes from Giaconda in Beechworth, Victoria. In addition to the controversial naturals, we have also added a real modern classic among the small artisanal Australian wineries to our range. The Chardonnay is definitely one of the best there is in the world. But also Pinot Noir and Syrah are to die for. The remote region covers just 112 hectares - these rare beauties arise on six hectares.

More of ours Australian winemakers:

Old vines and bold wines

The New Zealander and Australian by choice Fraser McKinley shows us that it doesn't always have to be a cool climate, but that downright spectacular wines can also be produced in the Barossa Valley. Wines are produced there on just three hectares in which the bottles themselves are an applied art. What is in the bottles is powerful and opulent, but at the same time fascinatingly complex and elegant. One of its secrets is the terroir. Its land is located in some of the oldest Barossa plants in the Ebenezer sub-region, where vines from the 1840s still exist. These real-root vines in the Barossa Valley have the oldest Syrah and Cabernet genetic material in the world. Fraser himself owns 885 vines from the years 1888 to 1912 and 1,170 vines from 1927 in the Hoffmann Dallwitz Vineyard. He actually processes the low yield as pure as possible and without any form of additives, fining or filtering.

In the past, we would have considered expanding our range of Australia significantly as a risk. Today we are happy about every single bottle that we can get from wineries like Sami Odi and the like. Fortunately, it is becoming more and more evident that there are two sides of the same coin in Australia's wine world. And one of these sites is slowly but surely getting very cool again. You now know which side is meant ...

Copywright Cover: Colmar Estate, Orange

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