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A New style of Australian Wine from Yarra Valley, Victoria
By Marita Leonard
But the Aussies are coming up with a surprise. They have been turning out some magnificent premium style wines.
From a continent that extends 3000 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, Australia has made a dramatic impact on the wine industry over the past decade. It is the second largest importer of wines to the US after Italy. In 2003 alone they exported over 28 million cases worldwide. From affordable every day potables to magnificent single-vineyard Shiraz from hundred year old vines, Australia is blessed with a terroir composed of some of the worlds most ancient and weathered soils.
Winemaker James Gosper from Green Point Vineyards is inviting us to try a more subtle and elegant style of Shiraz hailing from the cool region of the Yarra Valley. There, he is producing Chardonnays and Shirazs that are brilliant expressions of what the cool climate of the Yarra Valley and its ancient terroir are capable of.
His approach is to craft wines that are more French in style, a bit more refined and elegant, similar to the wines found in the Rhône Valley.
In 1986, legendary Champagne house, Moët & Chandon, purchased a site known to locals as "Green Point" in the Yarra Valley of Victoria. This stretch of land was named by locals because as summer descended it remained green longer than the nearby terrain. The reason for this was because the deep weather-beaten silt-stone soils would retain moisture long into the summer months and longer than elsewhere in the valley.
The Yarra Valley is Victoria's oldest wine growing region. The first vineyard was planted in 1838 by William Ryrie, a farmer who had moved south in search of fertile land. This is one of the worlds finest cool climate wine regions and the early settlers saw the potential for these vineyards to produce wines of uncommon finesse and elegance.
The climate of the Yarra Valley is ideally suited for Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, and for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, two of the essential grapes of Champagne; which is why Moët & Chandon chose this area for producing their Aussie sparklers.
Chardonnay is the Yarra Valleys' most widely planted white varietal, turning out sophisticated elegant wines. Domaine Chandon has been making sparkling wine in the region since 1986, "The best selling bubbly," according to Gosper, and this summer will be releasing their still wines under the Green Point Vineyards label.