Australian Wine from
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Rare Varietal Vines

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About 140 different grape varieties are used to make wine in Australia. The following are a few of the rare ones, at least in Australia. Most have only one winery making wine from them.

In composing the various pages for Vinodiversity I have scoured books, magazines, websites, catalogues and brochures to build a database of grape varieties used in Australia. The results of my search are stored in a database, which is constantly being updated.

Many readers have helped in this task by alerting me to a variety or producer that I have overlooked.

Use the contact form on the navigation bar to let me know about any I have missed.

1893: Made by Rimfire Winery in the Darling Downs

This variety doesn't really have a name. The winery call it 1893 because the variet originated from a single old vine growing on that site of an historic vineyard planted in 1893. Attempts to identify the vine using DNA Technology have failed, so Rimfire's vineyard may have the only known planting of this grape. They use it to produce a dry white wine which, unfortunately for the consumer, seems to be frequentlly sold out.

Aligote: used by Hickinbotham on the Mornington Peninsula

This is the second string white grape variety (after Chardonnay) in Burgundy. A major feature of the variety is its High acidity. Used for wine intended to be drunk young or mixed with cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) to make a refreshing aperitif called kir. Grown in the Mornington Peninsula by Hickinbotham, who blend it with Chardonnay.

Aucerot: made by Ciavarella's Oxley Estate Vineyard in the King Valley

This wine is refered to a "mystery wine". The vineyard was planted from cuttings from the Bailey's vineyard in Glenrowan. Aucerot at the Glenrowan Vineyard was planted from cuttings obtained from Europe in the early 1900s. They were removed in the 1980s. I remember buying a couple of bottles of "Auslese Aucerot" about 1980. It was a desert style wine that aged very well.

The variety is a mystery because no one seems to know its true identity. Aucerot is not the same as the French variety Auxerrios, despite the similar name. It is quite possible that the variety no longer exists in Europe.

Currently Ciavarella's use Aucerot as a blending partner with verdelho to make a "whie port" sytle.

Brachetto: used by Pizzini

Brachetto is an aromatic light red wine from Piemonte. It is used to make spumante(sparkling) or frizzante (spritzig) style wines. Pizzini use the variety to make a low alcohol (5.5%) sweetish style wine. It's a bit like a pink Moscato.

Cortese used by Lost Valley in the Upper Goulburn Region

This is a white grape variety from Lombardy North West Italy. It is the variety behind the famous Gavi wine. Lost Valley Winery, in the Central Victorian Highlands has reputedly the only Cortese plantings outside this rare variety's Italian home. Their Cortese, a middle wieght golden hued wine, has received acclaim from wine writers and critics.

Gargenega used by Domain Day in the Barossa Valley

This is the white grape variety used to produce Soave and other Northern Italian Wines. It is prone to overproduction and thus to fairly bland wines. It can also produce a sweet wine called Recioto. So far Domain Day are the only producers in Australia. The wine is rich and viscous with a pear aroma.

Lemberger and Trollinger from Hahndorf Hill

This winery in the Adelaide Hills uses the German names for two of its rare wine grape varieties.

Lemberger is a German variety used to make lighter style reds in Germany, Austria and Hungary.

Trollinger (aka Bluer Trollinger) is known as Schiava in Italy. It is not highly regarded in either country, except for its high yields. Hahndorf Hill use a blend of Trollinger and Lemberger to make a unique rose.

Malian and Shalastin At Cleggett

The Malian variety arose as a sport of a Cabernet Sauvignon vine at the Cleggett vineyard at Langhorne Creek. Malian is a bronze, rather than a red variety. Cleggett Wines makes an early picked and a late picked rose style wine from a small planting.

Shalistin is a further mutation of Malian. The berries are green and Cleggett it use it to make a crisp dry white wine. Both Malian and Shalistin are now registered varieties.

Regent and Sirius at Eumundi winery in Queensland

Regent is a dark skinned red variety bred in Germany. It was bred from Sylvaner and Muller thurgau (both white varieties) crossed with Chambourcin. It shows potential as a disease resistant variet suitable for area of summer rain. Sirius is

Saint Macaire made by Westend Estate in the Riverina

St Macaire is a rare Bordeaux red wine variety. The name St Macaire is shared with a town in Bordeaux, and Cotes de Bordeaux-St-Macaire which is a sweet white wine appellation. Saint Macaire the red wine variety being used by West End Estate in the Riverina. The wine is firm and powerful, not what you might expect from a Riverina wine.

Tyrian made by McWilliams Wines in the Riverina

This new red wine variety was bred by Australia’s CSIRO. The name Tyrian comes from tyrian purple, a bright purple dye used in the Ancient Mediterranean.

It is a hybrid of Cabernet Sauvignon and the Spanish variety Sumoll. The aim of the breeding program was to produce a high quality variety which would thrive in warm, dry areas. Tyrian ripens later than Cabernet Sauvignon and the juice has higher acid, thus allowing winemakers to make a stable wine in warmer conditions. The wines produced have a bright hue.

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