A few years ago it was decided that it was fundamental to the organisation and development of the Australian wine industry to create wine zones, wine regions and sub-regions throughout the country. Following the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, Australia has its vineyards spread throughout a total of 62 designated wine regions totaling 170,000 hectares.
Internationally known are the classic wine regions such as the Barossa and Yarra Valley or McLaren Vale. Our aim here at downunderwines is to introduce to you a number of smaller and mostly newer regions over the coming months. Let us start with a region that was officially established on 23 January 2008 – the New England Wine Region.
This region is an inland district in northern New South Wales, situated at the top of the Great Dividing Range. It has a mild alpine climate and four distinct seasons. The winemakers are still trying to find out, which varieties will be most successful, however, the typical cool climate varieties seem to be doing well, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Noir as well as Riesling.
Although officially only a bit more than a year old, the area is in fact a re-emerging wine region as early settlers planted their own wine already in the 1850s. Between 1870 and 1920 wines from New England won quite a few awards at wine shows in Sydney, London, the US and France.
What is fascinating is the climate of this large region, obviously strongly influenced by its elevation. It ranges from 404m in and around Tamworth to the New England Plateau where vineyards grow at 900m around Glenn Innes in the Great Dividing Range. High altitude, cooler nights, snow in winter and still only two hours inland from the sub-tropical north coast of NSW.
It will be interesting to see, how winemakers in these new areas will try to distinguish themselves from the bigger and better known regions. One of the suggested differentiators will be the use of new, almost unique varieties such as Arneis, Gewurztraminer or Tempranillo.
This week we have tried a wine from Topper’s Mountain Wines – a winery with first plantings from 2000 and 2002. They are trying out quite a few new varieties and we opted for the 2005 topper’s Mountain Traminer – a Gewurztraminer following a truly traditional German style. Typical for this style is the toastal floral aroma of Jasmine. The scent of Turkish Delight makes Michael think of his home country Germany, the wine itself lacks a bit in length which shows that this is a wine that will need a few more years of work.
Gewurztraminer is a difficult variety but has the potential to be outstanding in a few years time and therefore become a good differentiation for Topper Mountain Wines. And this is what wine from Australia is also about: having a go at new varieties in new regions.
Downunderwines bringt ihnen in den kommenden Monaten Berichte zu den weniger bekannten Weinregionen Australiens. Wir beginnen mit der Region New England, die erst seit Januar 2008 eine der 62 offiziell anerkannten Weinregionen hier Down Under ist. Wichtiges Differenzierungskriterium fuer die neuen Weingegenden ist die Verwendung unbekannterer Weinreben, wir haben in dieser Woche einen Gewurztraminer aus dem Jahr 2005 getestet.