Great Southern Wine Region, Western Australia

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This wine region in Western Australia is centred on the port city of Albany and faces the Southern Ocean.

The region includes five officially recognised Subregions, Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup.

The climate of the region varies with the distance from the coast and elevation but generally this is the coolest region in Western Australia.

Much of the land area and a few of the vineyards, are outside of the subregions.

Albany Subregion

This region is situated around the historic whaling station and naval and military base of Albany. Albany is now a major tourism centre for the region and there are many Accommodation options in Albany

The climate is cool enough for Pinot Noir which, along with other classic varieties, makes up the majority of the crush. There seems to be little interest in growing alternative varieties. Even Riesling, which would probably do well, is rare here.

Wineries using alternative varieties in the Albany Sub-region include

Kalgan River Wines Viognier

Denmark Subregion

The town of Denmark, and the surrounding wine region is further to the west along the coast from Albany. The well developed tourist infrastructure includes plenty of accommodation options in Denmark

The Denmark region is cool and wet by WA standards. Once again the wineries here seem wedded to classic varieties, the exception being West Cape Howe who use Viognier very well.

Wineries in the Denmark Region using alternative varieties

Matilda's Estate Chenin blanc | Silverstream Wines Cabernet franc, Viognier | West Cape Howe Wines Tempranillo, Viognier | Whitfield Estate Tempranillo | Willoughby Park Chenin blanc

Frankland River Subregion

This is the most inland of the Sub-regions in Great Southern, and the elevation of vineyards here is about 200-300m. The climate is cooler and more continental.

The subregion is remote from any substantial towns and many of the vineyards supply grapes for use by companies with wineries based outside the region, for example Houghton's whose main operations are in the Swan Valley.

The Riesling produced here is among the best in Australia but again there seems to be little interest in alternative varieties.

Ferngrove Vineyards King Malbec is a consistent medal winner at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show.

Wineries using alternative varieties in the Frankland River Sub-region include

Alkoomi Malbec, Petit Verdot, Viognier Ferngrove Vineyards Malbec Frankland Estate Viognier

Mount Barker Subregion

This region is located far enough inland to have a climate approaching continental. It is also cool enough for varieties such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muller Thurgau, along with the ubiquitous Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay. Tempranillo is a recent addition to the portfolio of grape varieties in this region. The climate suggests it should do well here and early results are promising

Wineries using alternative varieties in the Mount Barker Sub-region include

Chatsfield Cabernet franc, Gewurztraminer | Fox River Wines Chenin blanc | Galafrey Muller Thurgau, Tempranillo | Goundrey Chenin blanc, Tempranillo, Verdelho | Paul Nelson Wines Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo | Plantagenet Cabernet franc, Chenin blanc, Grenache, Sangiovese | Trappers Gully Chenin blanc

Porongurup Subregion

Immediately to the east of Mt Barker this region has a similar climate but its distinctive topography sets Porongurup apart.

Excellent Riesling is made here and a few wineries are using alternative varieties. The Porongurup wine region featured in an episode of Landline the ABC program in July 2010.

Wineries using alternative varieties in the Porongurup Sub-region include

Duke's Vineyard Petit verdot | Fernbrook Estate Gamay | Jingalla Verdelho | Montefalco Vineyard Cabernet franc, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese | Mount Trio Vineyard Tempranillo, Viognier | The Lily Stirling Range Chenin blanc, Grenache

You can learn more about Australian wine regions in James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia

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