Australia’s commitment to become a major wine producing nation was evident as the first fleet brought vine cutting from Cape of Good Hope in 1788. The attempt to grow vine in Australia failed miserably because of the unfamiliar Sydney weather. ‘The never say die’ attitude of early settlers prevailed and by 1820 Australian made wine was available for domestic sale. In 1822 Gregory Blaxland went a step further by exporting wine overseas. The size of the land mass and variety of climatic conditions and soil types enabled Australians to produce all of the major wine types. Australia was predestined to become one of the best wine producers in world both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Although around 130 grape varieties are used by commercial wine makers in Australia ,major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling. For making white and red wine different types of grape varieties are used.
Major White wine grapes
There are hundreds of grape varieties for making both white and red wines. Below are a few major white wine grapes used in the production .
The green skinned Chardonnay is one of the most flexible and malleable varieties of grape and relatively easy to cultivate almost anywhere, making it one of the most popular. Chardonnay can be made into huge variety of different styles of from crisp, light fizz through to rich and complex barrel fermented, full bodies light wines .
Modern DNA fingerprinting research at University of California, Davis, now suggests that Chardonnay is the result of a cross between the Pinot and Gouais Blanc (Heunisch) grape varieties
This green skinned variety got its name from French word sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”) and mainly used for producing crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. The wine is usually consumed young, as it does not particularly benefit from aging, except for some oak-aged Pessac-Léognan and Graves from Bordeaux that can age up to fifteen years.
In Australia, particularly the Margaret River region, the grape is often blended with Sémillon. Varietal styles, made from only the Sauvignon Blanc grape, from Adelaide Hills and Padthaway have a style distinctive from their New Zealand neighbours that tend to be more ripe in flavour with white peach and lime notes and slightly higher acidity.
This golden skinned grape is used to make dry and white wines. In Australia this variety is widely grown in hunter valley north of Sydney.
Originated in the Rhine region of Germany, this aromatic grape variety is used to make dry , semi-sweet and sparkling white wines. The character of the Riesling wine is influenced by the place of cultivation. It is an early ripening variety and suited to cooler areas. It is almost never put into oak barrels and can be one of the most delicious and rewarding white wines.
Gewürztraminer is a variety with a pink to red skin colour, and grows best in cooler climates, and is used for making white wine. These wines have an unmistakable flavour of lychees and rosewater.
Red wine Grapes
Syrah or Shiraz
This dark skinned grape is primarily used for making red wines. In South Africa and Australia, it is known as Shiraz and the rest of the world by the name Syrah. Syrah grape is used for making dense, burly, deep-coloured, long lived wines of hermitage and slightly more seductively perfumed Cote-Rotie.
The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black”. This variety is best suitable for cooler regions. At its basic Pinot Noir should have flavours like red berries , strawberry and Cherry . A little further up the scale you will find spices such as clove and aniseed. Pinot noir is also used in the production of Champagne (usually along with Chardonnay and Pinot meunier) and is planted in most of the world’s wine growing regions for use in both still and sparkling wines. Pinot noir grown for dry table wines is generally low-yielding and of lesser vigour than many other varieties, whereas when grown for use in sparkling wines (e.g. Champagne) it is generally cropped at significantly higher yields. (Courtesy: Wikipedia).
The Cabernet family
Cabernet Sauvignon – This variety is grown everywhere and ripens fairly reliably and relatively easy to make into good wine. Cabernet Sauvignon vines are churning out deeply coloured red wine that smells of blackcurrants is firm and tannic and can age well. It has a reputation for producing long lived wines. One of the most noted traits of Cabernet Sauvignon is its affinity for oak, either during fermentation or in barrel aging. In addition to having a softening effect on the grape’s naturally high tannins, the unique wood flavours of vanilla and spice complement the natural grape flavours of black currant and tobacco.
Cabernet Franc – This variety makes a lighter wine compared to Cabernet Sauvignon and makes a bright pale red wine. it makes a fragrant , black currant smelling wine .
Merlot – Merlot is a darkly blue-coloured wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.
Malbec and Pett Verdot – Both the varieties usually appear only in minor supporting roles n blends with the other grapes, added for their deep colour and slightly course, rustic character. It is unusual to find petit verdot as a wine on its own right.
Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine and contributing finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, and cassis, sometimes even violets.
Records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux go back to the end of the 18th century; it was planted in Loire long before that. DNA analysis indicates Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, a cross between it and Sauvignon Blanc.
The best illustrated wine making detail can be found at this website http://www.wineanorak.com/howwineismade.htm
How white wine is made ?
A Crusher – Destemmer machine will crush the grapes and will separate the stalks. Crushed Grapes will be pressed out to get the juice in a press. For white wine only the juice will be moved to a closed stainless steel tank and yeast will be added once the juice settles. Slow fermentation will be carried out by keeping the juice cool.
After a few days once the fermentation is finished, pump the new wine to another tank, so that it will separate from the dead yeast and pulp that is settled at the bottom. A clarifying agent will be added to make the wine clear.
How red wines are made?
There are a few differences in making white and red wines. The skin of the grape is added while making red wine to get the red colour whereas only the juice is taken while making white wine. Red wine is fermented at a warmer temperature compared to white wine.
How Sparkling wine is made?
Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy. Grapes are harvested early when there are high acid levels. The bunches of grapes are pressed gently without crushing them first, then yeast is added to the fine juice (without the skins ) to make an unwooded dry white wine . This is called base wine. Most sparkling wines are blends of several grape varieties. Many base wines are blended to create one final base wine that has all the top qualities. These base wines are put into thick bottles and a little yeast and sugar is added before sealing them firmly. The bottles are kept in a cool place for around 18 months. The yeast and the sugar will ferment inside the bottle again producing more alcohol and lot more carbon dioxide . This carbon dioxide will dissolve in the wine as it has no way to escape from the bottle. The dead yeast will fall as lees on the inside of the bottle, over the months this will give the wine distinctive flavour. The bottles will be shaken and turned progressively until it is standing upside down with all the lees collected at the neck of the bottle. The neck will be dipped in freezing brine. Then the bottle will be placed straight up before opening the seal, forcefully disgorging the frozen plug containing the lees . A little bit of wine and sugar is added to the bottle and the bottle will be sealed again.
What is fortified wine?
Fortified wine is wine to which a distilled beverage has been added. Usually brandy is added . In Short fortified wine is wine with spirit added to it.
Essential Wine vocabulary for Wine lovers
Vineyard – Ground planted with cultivated grapevines.
Winery – An establishment at which wine is made.
Vine – A weak-stemmed plant that derives its support from climbing, twining, or creeping along a surface.
In Australia nearly half of all vines grow in South Australia, a third in Victoria and most of the rest in New South Wales .
Wine regions of South Australia
Southern Fleurie , Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Eden Valley ,Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Riverland, Wrattonbully
Wine regions of Victoria
Alpine Valleys, Beechworth, Goulburn Valley, Grampians, Heathcote wine region, Henty, Mornington Peninsula, Pyrenees, Rutherglen, Strathbogie Wine Region, Yarra Valley, King Valley
Wine Regions of New South Wales
Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Orange, Riverina, New England, Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven Coast
Wine regions of Western Australia
Greater Perth, Perth Hills, Peel, Swan Valley, South Western Australia, Blackwood Valley, Geographe , Great Southern, Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker, Porongurup, Manjimup, Margaret River, Pemberton
( WINE FOR PHOTO SUPPLIED BY SANAL RAJ RAJAGOPAL )
The labelling information is numbered in the order one would examine the label. Grape type being the most important aspect of information followed by country of origin and the name of the producer determined by the maturity of the wine producing country and the extent to which its wine regions have managed to establish a meaningful identity . Whether the wine is vintage or not also carries importance.
As per this Wine Label, the year wine is produced is 2011 and the country of origin is Australia. Rose Mount Estate is the name of the Wine Producer. Grape variety used in making the wine is Cabernet Sauvignon. Obviously this is red wine.
The back label shows name of the producer, country of origin, Bottling information, Alcoholic Strength (13.5%) and the volume which is 750ml in this case.
The description at the back of the bottle about the wine says ‘Our diamond label Cabernet Sauvignon is medium bodied with generous dark plum and ripe black cherry flavours, supported by soft velvety tannins with a full smooth finish . It is equally enjoyable accompanying the effortless simplicity of a steak or a rich pasta dish with substantial bolognaises sauce’.
The label carries all the information required for someone looking for the right type of wine for a dinner party or any other occasion suggesting even the best accompanying food.
If you find it difficult to understand wine tasting terms like medium bodied, tannins etc. mentioned in the lable please read our article on wine tasting terms at http://www.india2australia.com/wine-tasting-terms/