Of all the white wine grape varietals, surely the one which has spread the furthest and is most widely appreciated is the Chardonnay. This green skinned grape is now grown all over the Old and New Worlds, from New Zealand to the Americas, from England to Chile, and is one of the first varietals people think of when considering white wine grapes. Perhaps this is because of its huge popularity which reached a peak in the 1990s, thanks to new technologies combining with traditional methods to bring the very best features out of the Chardonnay grape, and allow its unique qualities to shine through. Most fine Chardonnay wines use a process known as malolactic fermentation, wherein the malic acids in the grape juice are converted to lactic acids, allowing a creamier, buttery nature to come forward in the wine. No grape varietal is better suited to this process than Chardonnay, which manages to balance these silky, creamy notes with fresh white fruit flavors beautifully.
Region: Margaret River
The south-western region of Margaret River in Australia has gradually grown over the past century or so to become a highly important region for the country's wine industry. Today, there are around fifty thousand hectares of the region under vine, and Margaret River has somewhere in the region of one hundred and fifty wineries using the superb terroir for cultivating a wide range of vines. Margaret River is renowned and esteemed around the world for its versatility, and many different grape varietals thrive in the hot and humid coastal climate. Although the region is most famous for the production of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines, the cooler areas of Margaret River have consistently proven to be ideal for growing SÃ©millon and Sauvignon Blanc â€“ two grapes which are becoming increasingly popular in Australia due to their ability to express the country's unique terroir.
Whilst every Australian state has some level of wine production, it is in South Australia and on the island of Tasmania where the finest wines are made to the highest quantities. Here, the scorching Australian sun is a little tamer, and the heat is tempered by brisk oceanic winds, making the climate of these regions ideal for vineyard cultivation. The Tamar Valley on Tasmania has been making waves internationally in recent years, as both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varietals are thriving there and resulting in hugely flavorful wines, which are at once distinctly Australian, yet remain unique and interesting enough to surprise and impress. Elsewhere in the country, the Syrah grape (known locally as Shiraz) reigns supreme, as the long, hot summers allow these grapes to ripen fully and lend their intensely fruit-forward character to the ruby red Australian wines, which have such international appeal.