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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones