There is distinct energy, even amongst established producers, that authentic Australia’s time has come.
It seems redundant, albeit necessary, to state that Australia today is not Australia of the past. Respecting wine tradition and embracing modern technology while relentlessly striving forward to forge an authentic Aussie identity equals interesting, compelling, and unique wines of place. *See Anthony's recent feature on The Wizards of Oz in the Jackson Family Wines Australia portfolio here.
Australia’s huge, diverse wine community is divided into more than 65 recognized regions or Geographic Indications (GI). These regions support more than 100 grape varieties, and winemakers have been studiously dialling in what works well where and why. Most of Australia is currently untouched by phylloxera, meaning most quality vines are self-rooted and ungrafted. The absence of widespread phylloxera also means that Australia is home to some of the oldest producing vines globally, dating back to the mid-1800s.
Aussie still rules red. And thankfully, the sun-laden, overripe reds of the past are being replaced by lighter, fresher, earlier-harvested styles. Altitude has made a big difference, as is a lower reliance on the impact of wood and a collective shift towards wines that reflect vineyards rather than brand. Alongside the deep-rooted (quite literally) grapes like cabernet sauvignon, grenache, and shiraz, you increasingly see compelling plantings of dolcetto, tempranillo, nero d’avola, sangiovese, and yes – even the least transportable red grape on the planet – nebbiolo.
We’re enjoying the arrival of more and more of these brisk, finessed, elegant, serious (and seriously smashable) wines on our shelves over the past couple of years. Big thanks to those agents brave enough to right the needle in our long-stagnant market. Though you'll have to visit private independent wine stores to find many of these wines in BC, it's well worth the hunt. Here is a Top 10 of Mod Oz Reds that have stood out: