Australia has long been known for its Shiraz, with the big bold “fruit-bombs” of a bygone era being almost solely responsible for putting our great southern land on the wine-map. According to the team at Wine Australia, Shiraz vineyards on our home soil date back to 1843, which means we have some of the oldest Shiraz vines still in production in the world.
The iconic grape is grown in pretty much every Aussie wine region, due to its adaptability to varying climates, but could something else be taking over from Shiraz love in Australia? Something closer to our hearts here at Pinosity?
Over the past decade, there has been a surge of new Pinot Noir producers in Australia, particularly Tasmania, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and the Adelaide Hills. But why are Australian winemakers (and drinkers) becoming so obsessed with the great grape?
According to wine writer Peter Bourne, Australia’s love of Pinot Noir is on the rise due to its subtle ability to reflect the place in which it is grown.
“Australian Pinots are showing a true sense of terroir,” he writes.
“Delicately perfumed Gippsland Pinots are quite different from the Yarra Valley Pinots with bright-red fruit, and the more structured styles from Geelong. Tasmanian Pinots are intense yet refined, while Mornington Pinots are more succulent. Overlay these differences with winemaking’s infinite permutations and there’s an amazing diversity of Pinot.”
He says the surge in high-quality Australian Pinot Noir can be attributed to “fruit sourced from mature vines planted in cool sites, in the hands of experienced winemakers.” This has helped Pinot Noir to establish respect in Australia, but there are other reasons Australia’s taste is changing.
Australian wine writer Tony Love says that Shiraz is familiar but often “bullish” and “heavy”, which are characteristics that leave room for Pinot Noir’s fresh and seductive ways. “Pinot delights as a drink, with fragrance, spice, and fresh fruit brightness and lift, finishing with energy rather than shut-out tannins.”
In an article for Wine Selectors, Stephen George, founder of Ashton Hills, says that he’s noticed the consumers’ tastes are changing, and perhaps for the better. “A lot of gentlemen come to the cellar door and say they love Shiraz, but it doesn’t love them anymore.”
And while British writer Ed Merrison acknowledges Australia is still renowned internationally for its big bold reds, he thinks we’re pretty lucky when it comes to Pinot Noir too. “The world is stuffed with pinotphiles,” he writes. “Australians just don’t know how good they’ve got it.”