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Western Australia

Covering the entire western third of the continent of Australia, Western Australia or “WA” as it is referred to, is the largest state in the country.  One thousand miles across and roughly the same latitudinal reach at its length, Western Australia is massive.  In fact, it is the second largest administrative sub-division in the world.  Much of the state is barren and blazing hot with the northwest corner owning the distinction of having the highest temperatures.  The mercury has spiked over 120 degrees F on a few occasions, lethal for any budding grape.  Yet, Western Australia is a land of contrasts with the southwest corner enjoying a climate similar to Bordeaux.  It's no surprise then that some seriously good wine comes from these parts.

The Wines of Western Australia

Although the region is one of the largest in the world, it only produces around 5% of the wine coming from Australia.  But what is lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.  Indeed, some of the best wines from Down Under come from the cool southwest.  Unburdened by strict regulatory agencies, Western Australia winemakers use a wide range of varieties with significant success.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and others are well represented here.

Western Australia has built a good reputation based on the quality of the wines made from those varieties, which all display a style that is more reminiscent of Old World offerings.  Many of the wines from WA have a distinct minerality with a subdued character that is a stark contrast to some of the fruit-forward styles made on the opposite side of the continent.  In particular, Western Australia has achieved great success with blending Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon together to make vibrant wines that often carry a certain pleasant grassy characteristic.


Growing grapes in Western Australia

There are 9 sub-regions within the massive state, all located in the southwest corner stretching from the northern outskirts of Perth down and around the southern coast.  From north to south these regions are Swan Valley, Perth Hills, Peel, Geographe, Blackwood Valley, Margaret River, Manjimup, Pemberton, and Great Southern.  Of the group, the most important have been Swan Valley, Margaret River, and Great Southern.

Established in the 1830s, Swan Valley historically produced the most wine in Western Australia, accounting for 90% of the output in 1970.  But this hot district, one of the warmest in the world, has gradually been surpassed by other sub-regions in WA in the last 40 years.  One of those regions is Great Southern, the country's largest wine region measuring 125 miles across and 60 miles from north to south.  The direct opposite of Swan Valley, Great Southern is the coolest winegrowing region in Australia benefitting from the chilly air coming north from Antarctica.  Not surprisingly, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and other cool climate varieties thrive here.  Lastly, sitting on the western edge of the continent, Margaret River is perhaps the most established region in Western Australia with international recognition and comparison to Bordeaux.

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·  Bush, Bloke, Barbie and Bag in a Box Wine?
·  Coonawarra
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