Want to know which grape varieties or regions to look out for over the next few years? Imbibe caught up with some Australian winemakers at the Australia Day Tasting in London to get their thoughts.
Matt McCullough, CEO of Langmeil Winery
There’s a huge amount more to Grenache. Obviously, there’s a lot of good old vines in Australia, but we’re not even necessarily talking about that – just a fresher lighter style, often with a bit of whole bunch in there; made more like Pinot than Shiraz. People are taking it a lot more seriously. It’s not happened over here yet, but it’s starting to come in Australia. A Grenache won the Wine of Show in the Barossa Wine Show for the first time (Bethany Wines), and also the Jimmy Watson in Melbourne (Turkey Flat). You watch. It’s coming. It’s going to go off like a frog in a sock.
Theo Engela, co-founder of Chaffey Bros
For the Barossa, I’d say that Graciano is a variety that really thrives in the region. It’s sun-loving and drought resistant and does really well out in the field. There are a few single-varietal wines out there, but we tend to use it like a spice rack, to add elements to a blend: tannin structure, spiciness and earthiness. White wise, Sydney and Melbourne people love their Gewürztraminer, though I wouldn’t be disappointed to see a resurgence of Semillon.
Scott McWilliams, chief winemaker at McWilliams
We’re going to see more of the emerging varieties coming through – Mediterranean grapes like Tempranillo, Fiano and Vermentino. We are getting smarter about combining what’s accepted by the market and what grows best. Most of these grapes are being planted in the right places, so they naturally give good yields for the climate in that area. There will continue to be less use of oak too, and with less oak you naturally get more regional expression coming through. If I could make one more prediction, it would be that in 20 years Tumbarumba will be seen as the best Australian Chardonnay region, not Margaret River. It’s really high – 800m, just below the snow line – and it gives refined delicate Chardonnays, rather than those riper more tropical styles.
Bob Berton, owner of Berton Vineyards
Because we don’t have any limitations on what can and can’t be planted, we’re all playing around at the edges with Fiano, Durif and so on. There’s room for those, for sure, but I think they’ll still only be a small part of what we do. The classics will be where our interest will continue to be… where it’s always been. But if China continues to grow as fast there will be issues with supply, and I think that will encourage people to further develop new areas. For mid-level wines, I’d say we’ll see more out of the Limestone Coast. Padthaway and Langhorne Creek are sizable areas and we’ll see a lot more mid-priced wines in the £8-12 area coming out of there, especially Shiraz. For Italian varieties, I’d say look for the King Valley.