A Guide To Australia's Wine Regions, From Wine Experts

02/02/2016 10:30 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Windmill in vineyards, Hunter Valley wine region, New South Wales, Australia.

There are fewer combinations more harmonious than that of travel and wine.

Fuse the fun-loving feeling you get from a holiday with the soft lull that washes over you with a glass (or two) of wine and you've got the best weekend away sorted -- just take your cue from two of Australia's best wine experts.

The Hunter Valley

"There is no doubt that the region is best known nowadays for its concerts. However, it is semillon that really cast The Hunter Valley onto the international stage of excellence, as it’s a style that can live in bottle for decades,' Andrew Duff, Tempus Two Winemaker told The Huffington Post Australia.

Peter Nixon, Head of Dan Murphy’s Wine Panel, agrees.

"One of Australia's oldest wine regions (established in the mid 19th century), the Hunter Valley is famous for impressively long-lived semillon, as well as full-flavoured chardonnay and elegant, savoury, spicy shiraz (pronounced locally as she-rah)."

"When the Hunter Valley has its greatest growing seasons, we can also produce arguably Australia’s best Shiraz, and more recently there is a great resurgence of exquisite Hunter Valley chardonnay adorning the tables of Sydney’s more luxurious dining halls. If you ask me, it’s all about chardonnay," Duff said.

"My highlights (obviously for food and wine) would include dining at either of Muses exquisite restaurants (Muse Dining or Muse Kitchen) or lunch at Bistro Molines. Casual afternoons on the concourse at Goldfish restaurant to refresh the palate, after a wine tasting in the Tempus Cellar Door, with one of their sterling cocktails (Frangelico sours were introduced to me here). Alternatively, simply sharing a tasting plate of salumi and wine further down McDonalds Road, next to Gundog Estate, at Usher Tinkler Wine and Salumi (I recommend the truffle infused Salami) is a must," Duff said.

The Adelaide Hills

"The Adelaide Hills is best known for chardonnay, and not just limited to the still kind. The area produces sensational cool climate chardonnay and pinot noir, and thus, also blends of ‘methode champenoise’ (sparkling). The region is also home to arguably Australia’s classiest sauvignon blanc -- our best comparison to the championed Marlborough region of New Zealand and there’s nothing like buying Australian made," Duff said.

"The Adelaide Hills offer crisp, zesty sauvignon blanc, appley minerally fine riesling, restrained complex powerful chardonnay, earthy lacey fine pinot noir and crunchy velvety cool climate shiraz. They also make world-class methode traditionelle (Champagne-inspired bottle-fermented sparkling wine)," Nixon said.

"What I love about the Adelaide Hills is how you are only half an hour away from the CBD but it feels a world away. The beautiful suburb of Hahndorf is classified as Australia's oldest surviving German settlement, and I love everything from the 100 year old elm and plane trees that line the Main street to the cobblestone pathways and streets," Duff said.

In terms of good eats, check out Tranquilo Restaurant for quality Mediterranean fare, Locavore for delicious share platters, and The Haus Hahndorf for traditional German dishes.

adelaide hills

Rows of vines in The Adelaide Hills

The Barossa Valley

"When you think Barossa valley, think shiraz! Big, blocky, concentrated shiraz that Robert Parker Jnr brought to international recognition and great success at the expense of the European styles. Ironic, given Colonel William Wright named the area after the Battle of Barrossa in which the French also lost, but managed to make a mess of the spelling!" Duff said.

Boasting some of the oldest vines on the planet, many over 150 years old, the Barossa is world famous for its profoundly rich shiraz. Eden Valley is the elevated region (up to 500m) of the Barossa providing great views of the Valley and superb cool-climate vineyards (perfect for chardonnay, riesling, cabernet and elegant shiraz).

"In terms of global significance this is arguably the most important Australian wine region of them all. Steeped in history, a mind boggling array of producers, sub-region and vineyard specific styles, the Barossa, with its fascinating German history needs significant time to unfurl," said Nixon.

Head to Ferment Asian for traditional Vietnamese at its best, or grab a table at Hently Farm Restaurant to samples morsels perfectly paired with their famous shiraz.

The Margaret River

"A relatively young region, expanding rapidly from the 1970s, Margaret River is now considered one of Australia's most significant premium wine regions. Famous for its pristine beaches, consistent sun and superb grape-growing friendly mild climate, suitable for world-class super-fresh sauvignon blanc semillon blends (SBS), intensely flavoured, age worthy chardonnay, spicy medium-bodied Shiraz and arguably the finest examples of premium cabernet sauvignon outside of bordeaux," said Nixon.

"It is hard to pick a favourite as the region is one of the most stunning and unique wine regions in the world from top to bottom -- though the views to the coast from Deep Woods Estate in Yallingup region are memorably breathtaking."

Reserve a table at Morries Anytime for tapas and cocktails (if you've had enough wine), or head to Mikis Open Kitchen for a quality Japanese fix.

Yarra Valley

"On the doorstep of Melbourne, the luscious Yarra Valley is as much loved for its gracious beauty as it is for its sophisticated wines. Cool-climate classics are its forte -- restrained brooding chardonnay, poised aromatic satin-like pinot noir, classical savoury medium-bodied cabernet and elegant spicy shiraz," Nixon said.

"Its striking 'greenness' and beauty, diversity of producers and cellar doors, art, history and great restaurants is what makes the Yarra Valley so great."

"Fairly close to the top of things on my to do list in the Yarra will be visiting the Four Pillars Distillery for a tasting of mother ruin," Duff said.

De Bortoli Wines is famous for its Italian fine dining offering, Eleonore's Restarant at Chateau Yerting is like going back to the 1850s, and Belle Verdere is the spot for you if you want locally sourced ingredients in fresh, simple dishes.

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