Most peo­ple don’t reali­ze that Aus­tra­lia is an ancient pie­ce of land: its soil and struc­tu­re date back over 4.4 billion years, accor­ding to fos­sil records. And it’s belie­ved that the Abo­ri­gi­nal inha­bi­tants may have the oldest cul­tu­re on the pla­net as well.

But this modern country and its cul­tu­re are lea­ders in inven­tion and inno­va­tion, which is true not only in tech­no­logy but in wine­ma­king as well.

There’s one thing for cer­tain about the world of wine: it’s dren­ched in tra­di­tion. Most Old World wine coun­tries, like Italy, Spain, and espe­cially Fran­ce, belie­ve the old ways are the best ways, and many tra­di­tions have been writ­ten into law. In some pla­ces, the law says you must plant only cer­tain gra­pes — the ones that have been plan­ted the­re for hun­dreds of years. And you can har­vest them at only cer­tain times, and only at cer­tain levels of sugar. It goes on and on.

The Aus­sies don’t care about any of that. The wine­ma­kers Down Under, whi­le plan­ting tra­di­tio­nal varie­tals, are more than willing to try new approa­ches, new blends, and even stran­gely inno­va­ti­ve mar­ke­ting stra­te­gies. Exam­ple: they’ll name their wines Stump Jump and Woop Woop — and don’t for­get their crit­ter wines, like Yellow­tail, The Little Pen­guin and Mad Fish.

— Jerry Greenfield is The Wine Whisperer. He is wine director of the international Direct Cellars wine club. Read his other writings at www.winewhisperer.com

— Jerry Green­field is The Wine Whis­pe­rer. He is wine direc­tor of the inter­na­tio­nal Direct Cellars wine club. Read his other wri­tings at www.winewhisperer.com

The wine­ma­king industry star­ted in the late 1700s, with the impor­ta­tion of the first vine cut­tings from Fran­ce and Spain. The big­gie was Syrah, which the Aus­sies call Shi­raz, as well as Gre­na­che. Howe­ver, most of the wine pro­duc­tion was sweet, or “stic­kies” in Aus­tra­lian slang. In the 1960s, wine­ma­kers’ atten­tion tur­ned to table wines, and sin­ce then they’ve pro­du­ced an enor­mous ran­ge of sty­les and pri­ces, from the bud­get-pri­ced crit­ter wines to inter­na­tio­nal pri­ze­win­ners like Penfold’s Gran­ge, Hensch­ke Hill of Gra­ce and Cla­ren­don Astra­lis, pri­ced at thou­sands of dollars.

The­re are no gra­pe varie­tals that are indi­ge­nous to the country, but the wine industry and cul­tu­re have thrown their arms around all the major gra­pes, espe­cially Char­don­nay, Ries­ling and Semi­llon. On the red side, the true Aus­tra­lian wine is Shi­raz. Just about every­body makes one, and it truly reflects the cul­tu­re of the country.

I say that becau­se wine is a cul­tu­ral arti­fact. The Aus­tra­lians are unfai­lingly open, genial and wel­co­ming, and their Shi­raz is always a bold drin­king expe­rien­ce. The sty­le of this wine slaps you (hard) on the back, and yells “G’day, mate!”

If you’re not into Aus­tra­lia, get the­re. If you’ve been away, go back. Meanw­hi­le, here’s a look at some of our latest dis­co­ve­ries and favo­ri­tes.

Molly­doo­ker “The Boxer” Shi­raz McLa­ren Vale Aus­tra­lia 2017 ($21) – The winemaker’s tas­ting notes des­cri­be this wine as “unas­ha­medly bold,” and most of Mollydooker’s wines are like that. Spi­ce, black­berry jam, cherry and vani­lla mix with cof­fee and lico­ri­ce notes. Big tan­nins are well inte­gra­ted. WW 93.

Garo­fo­li “Podium” Ver­dic­chio dei Cas­te­lli de Jesi 2016 ($26) – This Ita­lian whi­te varie­tal deser­ves to be bet­ter known, so I’ll try to help. This ver­sion is enti­rely vegan and pro­vi­des con­cen­tra­ted aro­mas of citrus and honey. The oran­ge and lemon notes carry through on the pala­te with a pro­lon­ged finish. WW 89–90.

Domai­ne Bous­quet Rose Argen­ti­na 2019 ($13) — Here’s a great end-of-sum­mer wine. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir, Tem­pra­ni­llo, Pinot Gris and Viog­nier from Argen­ti­na. It’s a fes­ti­ve sha­de of pink in the glass, with lively fla­vors of red berries — espe­cially straw­berry. A hint of oran­ge peeks through on the finish. WW 88.

Peter Zem­mer Pinot Gri­gio 2018 ($18) – Made enti­rely in stain­less steel, this wine pre­ser­ves very crisp mouth­feel and well-balan­ced aci­dity with aro­mas of whi­te flo­wers and mixed notes of green apple, melon and pear. Fuller-bodied than most Pinot Gri­gios, and very plea­sing. WW 88.

Ask the Wine Whis­pe­rer

Q. What does the term “vola­ti­le aci­dity” mean in a wine?

— Sha­ron F., Atlan­ta

A. This term refers to the pre­sen­ce of ace­tic acid, one of the che­mi­cals that spoils wine, becau­se it’s the bac­te­ria used to make vine­gar. The bac­te­ria act on glu­co­se and other ingre­dients in gra­pe jui­ce. To pre­vent it from doing its awful work, wine­ma­kers add sul­fi­tes. ¦

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