The hipster angle to Aussie wine's future
We don’t need to tell you that the world has been changing it up a bit of late.
We’re getting a taste for the experimental like never before – even your mainstream uncle is more likely to whip out a crafted frothy and pulled-jackfruit slider than a VB and snag these days. And along with TikTok trends and the apparently never-ending revival of the mullet comes something a little more serious – a changing climate. Yep, it’s getting hotter up in here, and one of many industries starting to sweat like a hen’s night gaggle in da club is winemaking.
It’s a good thing, then, that Australian winemakers are such a resilient bunch. For the last few years, they have been proving just how much by pivoting like shock absorbing mofos –experimenting with lesser-known wine varietals and cultivating grapes that can withstand whatever the weather throws at them. Luckily for us, the results are very bloody tasty.
Here are a few of our favourite future-proof Australian wine varietals to try right now.
The Ancient Romans were the first ones to discover this smashable white wine and 1000 or something years later, Australia is starting to catch on (better late, than never guys). It’s a good thing too; fiano has a lot of badges on its scout sash. In the hands of different winemakers it becomes a very different wine – textural and intense; clean and crisp; honeyed and nutty. It’s also becoming mighty popular with winemakers looking for wine varietals to carry them through a changing climate. In its native Italy, fiano grows in the sunny south and is very chill about its water intake, so has easily made the jump to hot, dry wine regions on our side of the world such as Heathcote and the Riverland.
While we’ll always love a big, bolshy Aussie shiraz and a jammy cabernet sauvignon, they’re starting to share our affections with another plucky red wine. Nero d’Avola is a medium-bodied red originally grown on the sexy island of Sicily, which only popped up in Australia this century. Like many wines from the south of Europe, it’s less reliant on water and more heat tolerant than grapes from say France or Austria (which is a big reason why Mediterranean varietals dominate this list like Lizzo at an awards show).
Incidentally Nero d’Avola pairs perfectly with nearly anything that has come off a barbecue (luckily for us), meaning it was fated to find a home Down Under, surely?
When thinking of Greece’s gourmet specialities, gyros might come to mind well before wine. But Greek wine is going through something of a revival, thanks largely to one hardy (just like Tom) varietal – assyrtiko. Seen clinging to rocky, coastal slopes in Santorini especially, trained into a distinctive basket shape, this tough-skinned grape can stand up to drought, wind and blasting heat.
After getting a taste for assyrtiko on a Euro trip, legendary Clare Valley winemaker Jim Barry was an early champion for the Greek grape Down Under and other Australian winemakers are catching onto the value of this crisp, complex white wine with a minerality nodding to its maritime origins.
We’ve written before about this warm-weather pinot noir, a wine once better known as a blending grape that’s proving itself more than capable of going it solo. Grenache might not be the prettiest grape vine going – often with gnarled, bushy wines that don’t conform to the orderly rows of your typical vineyard. But that’s just a sign of a survivor, with grenache able to thrive in poor, dry soil and baking heat (beginning to see a trend here, mofo?).
Through some quirks of fate, South Australia is home to the oldest grenache vines in the world and is starting to make the most of them. Look out for a non-blended grenache and you’ll be rewarded with a red wine brimming with bright fruit and spices.
Next time you are craving a savvy b (no judgement here), look out for this Italian varietal instead. Aromatic, textural, with zesty citrus and floral notes, the light to medium white wine vermentino goes with a sunny day like a Slip 'N Slide and a sprinkler. Associated most commonly with the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, Vermentino is also quite partial to warm, coastal Aussie wine regions like McLaren Vale.
Although the wine it makes might lean toward the delicate, the vermentino grape is anything but and has proven it can maintain its signature refreshing acidity through even the most brutal Aussie summers.
Bring it on, mofos.