Consider this your go-to guide to wineries in the Land Down Under.
The food revolution, like elsewhere, has revitalized Oz’s restaurant scene, with demand for top notch, locally grown, organic produce resulting in a new wave of thrilling foodie destinations.
Same goes for the wine.
A new generation of curious, well-traveled, and environmentally conscious producers are taking advantage of Australia’s excellent climate and terrain to make wine that is sophisticated but utterly surprising. Lay off the high alcohol Shirazes and bulk wines sold on the merits of colorful animal logos and experience wines from these regions instead. Many are so new, they haven't left the country.
Perth: An urban wino paradise
There’s Print Hall, the heritage-listed former newspaper house-turned-multi-story-food-mecca located in the heart of Perth’s business district, whose wine list is one of the best in all of Australia. Just down the street is Lalla Rookh, where, in the shop section, you can polish off bottles at retail price from some of the hottest artisan winemakers in Oz, accompanied by hearty Italian comfort food. Thirty minutes south of Perth in the laid-back, artsy port city of Fremantle is Bread in Common, its warehouse-y vibe pairing perfectly with colorful, innovative small plates of goodness, all washed down with wines from star local producers.
Great Southern: For the quirky stuff
Try La Violetta’s “Spunk” petillant naturel, a light sparkler with flavors of strawberries and cream, or the foot-stomped “Klusterphünk” Chardonnay from brand new label Brave New Wine. Express Winemakers' smoky, cool-climate Shiraz will challenge your thoughts on the grape, and at Oranje Tractor it’s a toss up as to what’s more likable: the rustic, welcoming atmosphere or the zippy and sparkling "Sparkplug" Riesling.
Adelaide: A slice of France down under
Outside of the city, two of South Australia’s lesser-known regions, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills, lay claim to many of the state’s most innovative winemakers. Within McLaren Vale’s tight-knit community, don’t miss acclaimed winemaker Steve Pannell's wide range of sustainably produced wines, particularly his beautifully floral Grenache. Go to Brash Higgins during harvest time (late February to early April) and American-born sommelier-turned-winemaker Brad Hickey may put you to work foot-crushing his exceptional Nero d’Avola.
Adelaide Hills: wines with serious character(s)
A true eclectic, natural wine pioneer Anton Von Klopper of Domaine Lucci is known as the "wild man of Pinot," both for his crazy head of hair and his unconventional techniques. He once famously buried ceramic eggs with fermenting grapes. At Jasper Button's Commune of Buttons, you can get a taste of the mad, magical nature of the Adelaide Hills: Grapes are grown right on a commune he and his family live on.
Melbourne: home to ahead-of-the-curve producers
Under an hour outside Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is the nerve center of the state’s most cutting-edge producers. Both Luke Lambert and his eponymous wines are beguiling and understated, the kind that keep you scratching your head long after the first sip. Mac Forbes is known for his single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, which range from subtle to gutsy. For savory and light Syrah, try Jamsheed. One more naturally made Syrah not to be missed is from Bobar Wine. It's bursting with bright berries, pepper, and clove, with the slightest bit of funk.
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