Australia is a country that has a history of successfully blending multi- regional wines and marketing them intelligently to a wine drinking public that is more concerned with varietals than regions.
However, in stark contrast to France's AOC system - which is under constant scrutiny from marketing men wishing to simplify labels and descriptions - Australians are now pushing for more specific regionality and indeed succeeding. The success of this new regionality will depend on whether the styles are individual enough to make a difference to the consumer, of course. Australia has already tasted success with famous top end areas such Barossa, Coonawarra and Margaret River, together with a small handful of other well-known regions. For these are now well-established, producing wines of quality and individuality, whether it's Barossa and its powerful reds, the mineral curranty Cabernets of Coonawarra, or the cool-climate wines of Margaret River; but can the practice follow all over Australia? As long time advocates of 'terroir', we hope so. Identifying unique terroirs, microclimates and capitalising on them to produce wines that have a sense of place and origin is essential if Australia is to take a further step up the qualitative ladder. One estate that is certainly making the most of its terroir is Voyager Estate, within the large Margaret River region, nestled in the ‘Golden Triangle’, that boasts unique soils and benefits from a coastal style climate with significant day / night temperature differences. Here, with a gentle, hands off approach to winemaking, the wines are the closest Australia will get to Bordeaux or the Rhône. Another cool-climate Australian region is Tasmania, the aptly named ‘Apsley Gorge’ estate makes absolutely stunning Pinot Noir. Francophile owner Brian Franklin works a harvest in Burgundy every year with one of the region’s top estates, he favours a natural approach to making Pinot Noir, producing a fruit-generous, but precise and really quite complex version of new world Pinot. These certainly demonstrate that there is more to Australia than fruit-driven value for money wines.