Australian Wine from
Alternative Grape Varieties

New wineries listed in Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2009

Each year James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion includes a few hundred "new" wineries. Over recent years the number has varied, and the criteria for inclusion in the Companion has changed. Prior to the 2008 edition most wineries in Australia were included, even though they had not submitted samples for tasting, or if the wines submitted were given comparitively low ratings. Since 2008 only wineries that had submitted wines above the level of 87 are included. This keeps the companion down to an almost manageable size, 5778 wines reviewed from 1661 wineries.

The following are the 39 alternative varieties used by the "new" wineries:

Albarino (1),Arneis (1) Barbera (4), Carmenere(1), Chambourcin (1), Chenin blanc (1), Cinsaut (1), Clairette (1), Colombard (1), Dolcetto (1), Durif (6), Gamay (2), Gamay (1), Gewurztraminer(6), Graciano (2), Grenache (13), Lagrein (1), Malbec (3), Marsanne (2), Montepulciano (2), Mourvedre (6), Muller Thurgau, Nebbiolo (3), Orange muscat (1), Petit verdot (6), Picolit (1), Pinot blanc (1), Pinot gris (10), Pinotage (1), Prosecco (1), Sangiovese (6), Siegerrebe (1), Sylvaner (1), Tempranillo (7), Tinta amarella (1), Tocai (1), Touriga (1), Verdelho (6), Vermentino, Viognier (21), Zinfandel (4)

What are new wineries?

Halliday marks as new wineries that appear for the first time in each edition. In the 2009 Companion 169 wineries are marked as new, compared to 218 the previous year. These may not neccesarily be what you might call a new winery. Perhaps there has been a name change. Some wineries may have been operating on a small scale for some time and have only recently been noticed, maybe by snagging a gold medal somewhere. Other wineries arise as joint ventures of existing winemakers for a particular purpose, for example "The Saviours" a group of winemakers and grapegrowers in the Eden Valley who have pooled their talents and resources to increase the reputation of their region by producing wine under the label of "Eden Valley Wines"

The 2009 edition also documents the rise of warehouse wineries. These operations differ greatly from what we old fogies used to imagine a winery should be. We used to think that to make wine you first had to buy some land in a suitable area grow grapes, survive the onslaught of the elements, do a winemaking course, build a winery, buy barrels, beat off the bank manager and hope for the best. Today that has changed, at least for some of the flying winemakers who seem to manage to buy grapes, rent space and equipment, make their wine and market it before clearing out for the Northern Hemishere vintage. The 2009 Companion lists about two dozen wineries in this category.

What are the most popular new varieties?

I like to do a quick run through to check on any trends that may be showing up. I just tote up the number of wineries who are using each of the varieties designated by vinodiversity as "alternative". The result for 2009 is shown in the box above.

I know this method is statistically invalid, but it does give some idea of what is happening. For example I first noticed the revival of malbec by looking at this data a few years ago.

Viognier is the most popular variety listed. I would guess that only 20% of wineries are using it to make a white wine. Most would be using it co-pigmented with shiraz. Is Shiraz-Viognier and alternative varietal? Probably not, but I have not sorted the data out.

Grenache and Mourvedre are most often used to make blends, such as the famous GSMs. But I have a feeling that more varietal Grenaches (including roses) and Mourvedres are being used. Pinot gris continues to grow in poularity, especially in South Australia.

Listed below are sixty-two wineries who use one or more alternative varieties and who have made their debut in the 2009 Wine Companion.

  • Alderley Creek Wines Estate Northern Rivers Chambourcin, Verdelho
  • Allies Wines Mornington Peninsula Viognier
  • Back Pocket Granite Belt Graciano, Tempranillo
  • Blackets Adelaide Hills Gewurztraminer
  • Bottin Wines McLaren Vale Barbera, Sangiovese
  • Brammar Estate Yarra Valley Gewurztraminer, Pinot gris, Verdelho, Viognier
  • Cape Banks Limestone Coast Pinot gris
  • Carickalinga Creek Southern Fleurieu Viognier
  • Chislehurst Estate Hunter Valley Verdelho
  • Eden Road Wines Eden Valley Grenache
  • Epsilon Barossa Graciano, Montepulciano, Tempranillo
  • First Drop Barossa Valley Albarino, Arneis, Barbera, Montepulciano, Nebbiolo, Tinta amarella
  • Gelland Estate Mudgee Viognier
  • Henley Hill Yarra Valley Pinot gris, Viognier
  • Indigo Wine Company Beechworth Petit verdot
  • Jamabro Wines Barossa Valley Grenache
  • jb Wines Barossa Valley Clairette, Pinot blanc, Zinfandel
  • Kalgan River Wines Albany Viognier
  • Kidman Coonawarra Wines Coonawarra Viognier
  • Kindred Spirit Wines Strathbogie Ranges Viognier
  • Kingsdale Wines Southern New South Wales Zone Malbec
  • Knotting Hill Vineyard Margaret River Verdelho
  • La Linea Adelaide Hills Tempranillo
  • Macquarie Grove Vineyards Western Plains Barbera, Carmenere, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Viognier
  • Maverick Wines Barossa Valley Grenache, Mourvedre
  • McAdams Lane Geelong Picolit, Pinot gris, Zinfandel
  • Melville Hill Estate Wines New England Tempranillo, Verdelho
  • Minnow Creek McLaren Vale Malbec, Sangiovese
  • Mount Ashby Estate Southern Highlands Pinot gris
  • Mount Towrong Macedon Ranges Nebbiolo, Prosecco
  • Myalup Wines Geographe Chenin blanc
  • Nashwauk McLaren Vale Tempranillo
  • Old Mill Estate Langhorne Creek Touriga
  • Protero Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo, Viognier
  • Quealy Mornington Peninsula Pinot gris, Sangiovese, Tocai
  • Rose Hill Estate Wines King Valley Durif
  • Rossiters Murray Darling Barbera, Colombard, Lagrein, Vermentino
  • Sailors Falls Winery Macedon Ranges Gamay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot gris
  • Schiller Vineyards Barossa Grenache
  • Scion Vineyard Rutherglen Durif, Grenache, Orange muscat, Viognier
  • Seabrook Wines Barossa Viognier
  • Sigismondi Estate Wines Riverland Petit verdot
  • Snowy River Winery Southern New South Wales Zone Muller Thurgau, Siegerrebe, Sylvaner
  • Souters Vineyard Alpine Valleys Gewurztraminer
  • South Channel Wines Mornington Peninsula Pinot gris
  • Splitrock Vineyard Estate Hunter Valley Verdelho
  • Steinborner Family Vineyards Barossa Durif, Marsanne, Viognier
  • Sutherlands Creek Vineyard Geelong Gamay, Grenache, Mourvedre, Pinot gris, Viognier, Zinfandel
  • The Grapes of Ross Barossa Valley Grenache
  • The Old Faithful Estate McLaren Vale Grenache, Mourvedre
  • Valhalla Wines Rutherglen Durif, Grenache, Marsanne, Mourvedre, Viognier
  • Vincognita McLaren Vale Viognier, Zinfandel
  • Vintara Rutherglen Cinsaut, Dolcetto, Durif, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petit verdot, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Viognier
  • Waurn Ponds Estate Geelong Petit verdot, Viognier
  • Westlake Vineyards Barossa Petit verdot, Viognier
  • Whistling Eagle Wines Heathcote Sangiovese, Viognier
  • Whyworry Wines New England Gewurztraminer, Pinot gris, Pinotage, Viognier
  • Wili-Wilia Winery Macedon Ranges Gewurztraminer
  • Witches Falls Winery Granite Belt Durif, Grenache
  • Wombat Lodge Margaret River Malbec, Petit verdot
  • Yelland and Papps Barossa Grenache
  • Zitta Wines Barossa Grenache, Mourvedre

You are welcome to post any comments about these wineries on Vinodiversity's Reader Feedback page. See what others have said or give your own opinion.

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