Shiraz is the best-known and most widely planted varietal for Australian red wine. Rich, full-bodied and potent when grown in warm climes, Australian Shiraz may be showcased on its own or blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
Chardonnay is the predominant Australian white wine. The quintessential oaky New World style is produced here, as is, increasingly, a more crisp and balanced Chardonnay, grown in the country’s cooler zones.
Australian winemakers also produce sparkling wines in a range of styles, from classic blends of Champagne varietals to a unique, off-dry sparkling Shiraz. Excellent sweet and fortified desert wines are also produced throughout Australian wine country.
As in most other wine-producing countries, the narrower and more prestigious the geographical appellation declared on an Australian wine label, the more distinctive the wine. By law, if an Australian wine claims to be from a specific appellation, at least 85 percent of the wine’s grapes must have been grown there. As a result, many of Australia’s value-oriented wines carry the broad South Eastern Australia appellation, which encompasses five states and covers nearly 95 percent of Australia’s vineyards. Producers often use the South Eastern Australia designation when they strive to create a consistent house style by blending grapes from different regions.