Anthony Rose: The New World's fightback tastes so good

Share
Related Topics

Who would have predicted 15 years ago that Australian wines would have leapfrogged the French by the mid-2000s to become the UK's number one supplier of wine? I didn't and I don't know anyone who did.

Australia's refreshing, no-nonsense approach to wine as fruit-filled, great-value sunshine in a bottle caught our imagination. "For the past 15 years we've been humming," as Andrew Hardy, director of the Petaluma Winery in South Australia, puts it. According to a new survey from the IWSR (International Wine & Spirit Record), Australia supplied us with 31 million cases of wine last year, up 27 per cent in four years, compared to France's 24.7 million cases, down 18 per cent.

But the rest of the world has not stood idly by. Chile with its refreshingly crisp sauvignon blancs, South Africa its honeyed chenins and Argentina its juicy malbecs, are just three countries that have taken a leaf or two out of the Australian vineyard. California has made huge strides. New Zealand has the highest average bottle price of any country. Nor has France lightly surrendered its tradition. The French and the rest of Europe have pulled up their collective socks and started the fight-back with much improved wines at more realistic prices, thanks in large part to the changes from plonk to quality in their southern regions.

Australia hasn't always been its own best friend, queering its pitch, aided by the supermarkets, with deep-cut promotions that have cheapened its image and lowered expectations. Adding to our disenchantment, it's become a victim of tighter supply outlets that have pinched its range of wines to such an extent that it's easily pigeonholed as offering little better than Jacobs Creek, Yellow Tail and Hardy's Stamp. "And it's done itself no favours," says Iain Muggoch, buying director for Bibendum Wines, "by raising prices in anticipation of a reduced drought vintage and then coming up with a bumper harvest".

Contrary to the general impression it puts out, however, Australia has a huge range of quality wines coming out of its 2,500 wineries. We may not realise it yet, but as Australia is forced to pare down its big brand ambitions because of oversupply, and now the effects of the drought, the quality and range of its family and estate wines is getting better all the time. But then so is the rest of the world's.

The writer is the Independent's wine critic

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Software Engineer - Motorsport

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Are you a motorsport enthu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Richard Dawkins  

Richard Dawkins is wrong to suggest that there can be varying degrees of severity involved in rape

Sian Norris
 

Fist bumps will never replace the handshake - we're just not cool enough

Jessica Brown Jessica Brown
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on