Wines from down under
Food and drink opinion

Wines from down under

Some bodegas have found themselves in one of the hottest and driest wine regions on the planet

AJ Linn


Friday, 10 May 2024, 12:35


Although they made few inroads into the European mainland wine market, the Commonwealth connection always guaranteed Australian wines a special place in the UK. Indeed, there was a time before the Common Market, much less the European Union, when they were the flavour of the decade. During the 1980s and 1990s Australian wine producers redoubled their marketing and branding efforts to promote their wines internationally. These included participating in competitions, tastings and promotional events - establishing strong brand identities.

Even South African 'sherry' carved a niche for itself in the international market until the señores of Jerez established legal impediments. Those were the good years, so what could go wrong? The 'Commonwealth Wines' supermarket selection soon became history, and 'Old Continent' products recovered their rightful place as European consumer favourites, but what has finally sealed their fate has been climate change. Some bodegas have found themselves in one of the hottest and driest wine regions on the planet.

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  • Giroscópico 2023 The Ronda bodega of Huerta de la Condesa is producing some very interesting wines. This white, made primarily from viognier grapes, is matured on its lees for five months. Very acceptable, but no snip at 40 euros.

So what is the solution? The reaction of European wineries has been to grow vines at higher altitudes, but Australia is notable for its flatness, variably described as 'steppes' or 'plateaus', and zones with higher altitudes like Adelaide Hills, the Yarra Valley, and the Canberra district, are limited in number. On the current trajectory, the whole of Australia is going to get warmer and dryer. A three-degree rise will increase the frequency of hot days tenfold, if not more, and when the whole globe warms more than three degrees, it's likely that we will not be worried about growing wine anyway.

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