Australia is famous around the world for its red wines, but many people only associate these reds with a select few varieties, such as shiraz. There are actually quite a few fantastic varieties that grow remarkably well in Australia, whether it be in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley, South Australia’s Barossa, Victoria’s Yarra Valley or Western Australia’s Margaret River. In this article, we take a look at a few of these great red varieties – both classics and few underrated examples.
Australia’s darker red grape varieties
Let’s get the popular ones out of the way first – Barossa shiraz is an Australian classic for a lot of reasons, with its reliability likely due to it taking so well to the Australian climate and its soil. In terms of flavour profile, shiraz can be peppery when it is young, but left to ripen on the vine it can turn into a luscious plum and cherry, eventually turning into a strong, deep chocolate and port profile if left for long periods. We can’t talk about popular varieties of red and not talk about cabernet sauvignon, so here you go – the famous cab sav can develop similar flavours to shiraz, developing from a peppery profile as it’s young to a complex coffee and plum behemoth if its left on the vine for extended periods of time. In short, absolutely delicious. For fans of bolder wines, merlot is another favourite, albeit less popular than both shiraz and cab sav. Merlot is actually related to the cabernet grapes, and goes on to develop beautiful liquorice and chocolate notes as it becomes extra ripe. It is very often favoured as a blending wine, where it is combined with all sorts of other varieties for exciting results.
Lighter red wine styles
If big Australian reds aren’t your thing, you might instead like a nice pinot noir. Although it can be a bit of a pain to grow, this grape offers a might lighter body and colour than many other wine styles, and makes up for a deep sweetness with a lovely high acidity. There is still a balance at play here, though – some winemakers have a pinot lean more on tannins than acid, which can create a remarkably different result. Unless its bigger contemporaries, it is also possible to serve a pinot either chilled or at room temperature, making it a great drop for warmer summer weather. Grenache is another highly popular and lighter style, and although it has lost favour in the past, it’s definitely making a comeback on the wine scene due to its versatility. Grenache is highly favoured as a blending wine, where it is combined with Shiraz and Mourvedre varieties to create some very classic and complex vinos.
Unfamiliar with the reds Australia offers?
If you’re used to just drinking the one style of Australia red wine, branching out can be one of the best things you can do. There are a lot of exciting wineries making some excellent wines, so exploring some of these other grape types – particularly the less popular ones – can be a very eye opening experience. If you can, it’s absolutely worth going to a winery in a wine region near you and asking as many question as you can to really get an idea of what red wines are all about!