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Australian Wines:


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I know that Yellowtail, Rosemount and Banrock Station are widely available in countries other than Australia ( and have only a very modest level of market visability here) but to what extent are Australian wines which are not, like these, produced for a mass market available in other countries?

I am thinking of Hunters and Coonawarra styles, in particular..

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Not sure if Wilfrid means this, but while there is huge volume of Australian wine in the UK, it is by and large either the swill or a very restricted amount of high end stuff, of a particular style (think Barossa).

 

In particular, Hunter reds and whites are very thin on the ground.

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Perhaps one reason for this small representation of quality rather than bulk-style (and I would class the first two wines I mentioned in this category) is the fact that Australian wines are selling into a market here of only 20 million, and the incentive to expand is not there?

More probable, perhaps, is the fact that this country, while it enjoys a climate in the inhabited regions similar to California, the Middle-East and Spain, has only a few areas which can be relied on to produce a top quality product year after year.

Irrigation is necessary in some areas to get the volume of harvest up to a viable standard , and the product, while available here in 4 litre casks for $10 Australian and perfectly drinkable, is, when exported, as Adam says, certainly not of bottle standard.

A pity, because a very poor impression of the quality of Australian wines is often the result.

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This is to some extent true, but it is also to do with the taste of the market.

 

Australian riesling is a slow mover here (although this is changing) and even the labels that are here are of a restricted style (Anne's Lane/Knappstein) - citrus-floral, but nothing to limey (Pike's) or challenging (Leo Buring (sp?)). New Zealand riesling seems to fair better, I suspect due to the fact that it is more similar to the European styles (less dry, more body, apples rather then lime).

 

Also, it is difficult to get aged wine here and the rieslings really suffer for it. I suspect that there isn't a market big enough to justify the importation of quanties of some styles, like Hunter Semillion. McWilliam's "Elizabeth" would seem like an obvious choice, but I haven't seen it here. Ditto Tahbilk Marsanne - only latest releases, which are not nearly as interesting as the aged wine.

 

Hunter Shiraz (Burgundy) isn't a style which shines in its first 5-7 years (although my very favourite style), so there is little market for it. So basically what we get here are great big confection wines that can be drunk off the shelf.

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Select Australia in the search engine at either of these sites to get an impression of what's available in New York, at least. Sure, you find the big producers - Rosemount, Wolf Blass - but the selection is much deeper:

 

www.astorwines.com

www.sherry-lehmann.com

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Not sure that I was trying to give the the impression that NYC (greatest city in the world), didn't have a good amount of Australian wine. :blush:

 

There were definately some interesting selections (Mount Langi Ghiran, 'Langi' Shiraz, 2000 from S-L, would be an interesting atypical Australian shiraz BTW), but it is a restricted range. I'm not sure that there really is an issue with this is there, supply and demand and all that?

 

There is a wide range in the stores products, but by and large the selection is dominated by reds from the Barossa and Chardonnay. In the case of Zachy's the selection is really dominated by two producers.

 

The original question was about representative the selection is of Australian wine, well the answer is that it isn't very representative of all the styles of wine (or even varieties or regions), but I'm not sure you would expect it to be?

 

Also, much of this choice is actually better then you would get in the UK I think.

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If you're interested in what's available in parts of Canada (quit snickering, New Yorkers, it's POSSIBLE he is!) a quick search of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) indicates 634 Australian wines (including any that have been recently discontinued), including 75 in their more upscale "Vintages" section. Of course, not all stores stock the same ones. Aussie wines were featured in Vintages not long ago, which normally results in a province-wide upsurge in sales of featured wines.

 

Lest anyone scoff "it's only Ontario," the LCBO is the largest single purchaser of beverage alcohol in the world and one of the world's largest beverage alcohol retailers. It purchases wine, spirits and beer from over 60 countries.

 

http://www.lcbo.com/products/productsearch.shtml

 

Coonawarra (prices are CDN$):

 

02 CAB SAUV MCLAREN/COONAWARRA (CHAPEL HILL)

Australia | Chapel Hill Winery Pt. Ltd.

VINTAGES 965830 | 750 mL | $ 17.95

 

02 CABERNET RESERVE COONAWARRA (PENLEY ESTAT

Australia | Penley Estate

VINTAGES 701821 | 750 mL | $ 54.95

 

BALNAVES OF COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2001

Australia | Balnaves Of Coonawarra

VINTAGES 918409 | 750 mL | $ 36.95

 

CABERNET SAUVIGNON ALEXANDER'S BLOCK 2001

Australia | Jamiesons Run

VINTAGES 913384 | 750 mL | $ 49.00

 

CABERNET SAUVIGNON SHOW RESERVE 2001

Australia | Rosemount Estate

VINTAGES 226662 | 750 mL | $ 29.95

 

KATNOOK ESTATE 'RIDDOCH' CABERNET/MERLOT 2000

Australia | Wingara Wine Group

VINTAGES 713255 | 750 mL | $ 15.95

 

KATNOOK ESTATE SHIRAZ 2002

Australia | Wingara Wine Group

VINTAGES 938225 | 750 mL | $ 29.95

 

MCWILLIAM'S STENTIFORD'S RESERVE OLD VINES SHIRAZ 2000

Australia | McWilliam's

VINTAGES 655415 | 750 mL | $ 49.95

 

PARKER COONAWARRA ESTATE 'TERRA ROSSA' MERLOT 2001

Australia | Parker Coonawarra Estate

VINTAGES 678581 | 750 mL | $ 33.95

 

PENFOLDS 'BIN 128' SHIRAZ 2002

Australia | Foster'S Wine Estates Americas

VINTAGES 509919 | 750 mL | $ 29.95

 

PETALUMA COONAWARRA RED 2001

Australia | Lion Nathan Wine Group

VINTAGES 922799 | 750 mL | $ 52.95

 

RIESLING 2003

Australia | Wynns Coonawarra Estate

VINTAGES 528216 | 750 mL | $ 11.95

 

WYNNS COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON

Australia | SOUTHCORP WINES

LCBO 502039 | 750 mL | $ 19.90

 

WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE CABERNET/SHIRAZ/MERLOT 2002

Australia | Southcorp Wines

VINTAGES 511600 | 750 mL | $ 19.95

 

WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE CHARDONNAY

Australia | SOUTHCORP WINES

LCBO 468728 | 750 mL | $ 12.25 | PRODUCT DISCONTINUED

 

WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE SHIRAZ 2003

Australia | Southcorp Wines

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A very useful site, and new to me. It is difficult to define the national character of australian styles of various varietals, because so much depends on individual taste. I have yet to find a Hortons (West Australian) wine I like, but they still sell reasonably well, and the lakes of very ordinary Chardonnays sold each year are more a result of skilled marketing rather than winemaking skill. In general, Shiraz and Semion, the two first varities planted in colonial times are the most popular with collectors, followed by Cabanet. As for climate and it's influence, as a rule I find that the newer the wine area and the more extreme the climate, the worse the quality of the product.

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