Emerging Varieties in Australia

Emerging Varieties in Australia

In Australia, “Emerging Varieties” are defined as grape varieties with tiny amounts planted – maybe 1% – 3% of the total Australian vineyard area. A more common wine consumer definition is that the emerging variety is new, unusual and makes a change from previous wine selections. Emerging varieties include white grapes Fiano, Vermentino, Aligote, maybe Viognier, Verdelho and Pinot Gris; and reds Sangiovese, Nero d’Avola, Nebbiolo, Mencia, maybe Tempranillo and many more.

Until recent years, Australian grape varieties were dominated by French and Germany varieties that had largely been introduced by wine pioneer James Busby in the 1820’s. Semillon, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon were the main well known varieties.

Emerging varieties not only are attractive to consumers who are looking for something new and different, emerging varieties often offer an advantage of some kind to a wine grower. For example, Fiano and Vermentino are disease resistant white varieties and hold their natural acidity and freshness in hot years. Hence growers in warm parts of Australia are interested in them along with Albarino and Cabernet Franc for the same reason. A red such as Durif ripens evenly and quickly and remains fresh and disease resistant in hot drought conditions, offering a deep red colour and a notable plummy spicy aroma.

A selection of emerging varieties: –

Variety Origin Characteristics
Whites: –
Albarino Galicia, Rias Baixas, NW Spain Peach citrus aroma, fresh firm acidity
Alvarinho Vinho Verde, NW Portugal Same grape as Albarino
Ansonica Italy, western Sicily, Marsala Light, fresh, palate texture
Arinto NE Portugal, Vinho Verde Lemon citrus aroma, high acid
Fiano Campania, Sicily, southern Italy Nutty, lemon pitch, fresh soft
Malvasia Madeira Rich soft full texture
Manseng SW France Thick skin, disease resistant, can be left for later full ripeness
Picpoul Languedoc, France; Cognac Fresh but ripens easily, higher alcohol
Pinot Grigio Italy Ripens easily, higher alcohol
Rousanne Rhone Valley Nutty complex flavour
Viognier Rhone Valley Exotic apricot aroma, fuller bodied texture
Reds: –
Aglianico Southern Italy “The Barolo of the South”, considered one of Italy’s greatest varieties; probably used for Falernian wine in Ancient Rome, full bodied, complex, full tannin, high acidity, ages well
Barbera Piemonte, Italy Soft velvet red cherry flavour
Blaufrankisch Austria, eastern Europe Full flavoured, high acid
Chambourcin French-American hybrid Red flesh grape, high yield, disease resistant
Lagrein South Tyrol, Italy Spicy red flavour, full bodied, tannic
Mencia North west high plains of Spain, Bierzo Deep colour, sour rich cherry and pomegranate, rich soft full flavour
Montepulciano Abruzzo, Italy Soft generous red with high acid
Nebbiolo Piemonte, Italy Very tannic, medium-light body
Nero dÁvola Sicily, Italy Complex rich red fruit flavours with high acid
Petit Verdot Bordeaux, France Very deep colour, late ripening with full flavour
Prieto Picudo Leon, NW Spain, high plains Sweet rich flavour, medium colour and body
Sangiovese Chianti, Italy Savoury cherry firm acidity
Saperavi Georgia, Eastern Europe Red flesh grape, full body, high alcohol, deep colour; nutmeg spice deep red fruit flavour
Tannat Madiran, SW France; Uruguay Firm tannin, full raspberry flavour, higher alcohol
Tempranillo Spain Tannic variety, complex dark sweet red fruit flavours
Touriga Port variety, Portugal Deep colour, high tannic
Tasting Videos

Three Australian Pinot Noirs

Wines Tasted

1. Bellvale Pinot Noir – Gippsland
2. Even Keel Pinot Noir – Mornington Peninsula
3. Michael Hall Sang de Pigeon Pinot Noir – Adelaide Hills

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