Wine Talk

Snooth User: maikotropic

The state of Australian wines

Posted by maikotropic, Jun 3, 2011.

I just finished a very interesting article regarding the wine industry in Australia (they currently have an excess of 20million cases, and it continues to grow at a few million per year. They say that some producers are dumping wine at $1 liter (lower than the cost of production).  This has been going on for a few years (6 I think, counting current year), for a variety of reasons (some climate, some economic, some exchange rate for exports and imports); but overall, it impresses upon me that Australian wine producers could be a very good value, if one knows where to look properly.

While I really enjoy Australian Shiraz, and buy some from time to time, I must admit I haven't been that up on it very well, and would like to know you opinion of the forgoing?

1. Did you do an article not too long ago and I missed it? If so, could you add a link where I could find it, and if the event you haven't updated on this state of affairs lately, 

2. Do you have a list of exceptional values one should look for with regard to Australian (reds primarily, but interested in all) wines?


And keep up the good information on Snooth. I really like reading your blog.




Reply by zufrieden, Jun 3, 2011.

The subject of value in Australian wine is a somewhat controversial topic here at snooth in that traditional (overseas) source regions such as the Barossa in South Australia are often disparaged as less interesting than lesser known regions in Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.  I do not subscribe to these biases (which are absurd) but do acknowledge very interesting (if pricey) alternatives are certainly to be found outside South Australia.  

My advice is to stick mostly to New South Wales and South Australia for the values given the heady rise in the Aussie dollar - a commodity-driven phenomenon that is injuring agriculture and manufacturing Down Under at the moment.  Like many who scribble on these pages, I am a bit chary of recommending, but if you like Shiraz, try Torbreck or Glaetzer (Heartland brand); I doubt you'll be dissatisfied as these producers make entry-level wines that frequently trump examples from boutiques that charge 2-3 times more.

As for articles on Australian wines, you can search the site, but I have found a regular contributor to the forums - Stephen Harvey - to be a veritable goldmine of information on his own turf.



Reply by maikotropic, Jun 5, 2011.

Thank you for answering so well; you hit my request right on the nose.  

If you are interested, the article I read was in a recent edition of The Economist....

Always a pleasure hearing your advice.


Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jun 6, 2011.


The Economist Article from 2009, reflects the situation pre some recent restructuring of the Industry here and the impact of relatively low yielding 2009,2010&2011 vintages

Zuf is spot on with our $ very strong and at post float [AUD floated in 1983] highs against Pound and USD.

Australia has a very large area of commercial vineyards and wineries that essentially follow the Murray Darling Basin from Griffith in the East, through Sunraysia [Mildura] and the Riverland in SA.  These regions produce very well made, simple but easy to drink wines that are mainly in the $5-12 bottle range.

My advice in very general terms are:

  • Shiraz -

Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale SA, Great Western and Heathcote in Victoria

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

Coonawarra SA, Margaret River WA and Yarra Valley Victoria

  • Riesling

Clare and Eden Valleys SA, Drumborg Victoria, Tasmania

  • Chardonnay

Hunter Valley NSW, Margaret River WA, Beechworth Victoria

  • Semillon

Hunter Valley NSW

  • Pinot Noir

Mornington, Yarra Valley Victoria, Tasmania

  • Sparkling


  • Fortifieds


Let me know if you want any further help



Reply by maikotropic, Jun 6, 2011.

This Economist article is just in the most recent or next to most recent issue; not 2009.

Thanks again. 

Reply by maikotropic, Jun 6, 2011.

Do you have any specific labels you would recommend as opposed to just the region?  I guess I can just go to the store and start checking them out....

Reply by GregT, Jun 6, 2011.

Stephen - the article was in the May 28 issue.  It didn't really cover any new ground and was just a very short boxed article repeating what's been common knowledge for a long time; mostly that Australia has overproduced for one sector of the market and needs to revamp its production and product mix.  The article was an aside in a much larger article about Australia.  Still, for just a few paragraphs, it did state something I didn't know - "only a quarter of growers depend on grapes for their livelihood."

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jun 7, 2011.


Thanks - yes the article basically regurgitated the Nov 09 article which whilst is still generally reflective of our industry, it does not reflect a lot of change in last 18 months

Yes, many of our growers have mixed agricultural businesses.  Most of the Murray Darling irrigators will have wine grapes as a part of an overall fruit portfolio ranging from citrus, stonefruit [aprocots peaches etc], table grapes, almonds, olives etc etc.  Some of the growers in our premium regions will have a mixed farming business and will include broadacre crops [wheat, barley etc] as well as sheep and cattle [either diary or beef].  Certainly some specialist growers exist and off course there is the Managed Investment Scheme vineyards which were formed to take advantage of primary producer tax incentives.  Many of the scheme vineyards are the ones contributing to oversupply problems that exist today.

Supply and demand are moving back towards balance and my latest data expects that we will go into the 2012 vintage close to in balance for the first time since 2003.

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