Australian wine lovers are swapping a love of full-bodied reds for lighter styles that hail from cooler climates with a segue toward top tier vibrant whites too.

The 8th edition of the LANGTONS Classification of Australian Wine reveals a shift in the consumer wine palette when it comes to what Aussies are choosing to drink next.

They’re seeking distinctive elegant wines and looking to what’s being produced locally as a first port of call.

“The 8th edition of the LANGTONS Classification of Australian Wine represents a seismic shift in the purchasing, drinking and investing habits of Australia’s top fine wine buyers,” says Michael Anderson, Head of Auctions and Secondary Market.

“We can see a movement away from the hedonistic, full-bodied reds, with a shift towards lighter styles from cooler climates and a sprinkling of top tier, vibrant whites too,” says Anderson.

The new Classification comprises a total of 100 wines across 60 wineries – the wines given the title of ‘Classified’ to reflect their demand and performance in the secondary market at auction.

New wines joining the rank this year include The Relic Shiraz Viognier and The Schubert Theorem Shiraz (The Standish Wine Company), Hoffmann Dallwitz and Little Wine Shiraz (Sami-Odi) and Tolpuddle Vineyard’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir plus Bindi Quartz Chardonnay – underlying a new direction toward elegant Shiraz styles from the southeast regions featuring pinot noir and chardonnay.



Why are Australians are turning to cooler climate wines?

Cooler climate wines offer a lighter touch and gentler palate. Generally, cooler climates inspire to slower ripening and this allows grapes to ripen evenly ensuring that winemakers can extract the right amount of tannin, sugars, acids and phenolics. This in turn leads to gentler, more balanced alcohols in the finished product. Historically, Aussie’s have been more partial to warm climate wines with high alcohols for their safety and easy pairing with traditional Australian cuisine like BBQs, but as the Australian wine palate matures and eating habits change, so does the style we reach for. Additions of texture from barrel work and stems has become popular. Reductive complexity in Chardonnay is holding strong. Australians have become receptive to new, worldly techniques that go beyond big fruit and lashings of oak. We are more educated, more willing to try new things and backed by an industry of winemakers utilising cooler climates to make wines of class.

Why is there a swing away from full-bodied reds?

Full bodied reds certainly do have their place, but I think as Australia becomes a greater piece in the world of wine puzzle, and wine drinkers upskill in their knowledge of the world of wine, more possible styles, regions, grapes and techniques reveal themselves.

Historically, Shiraz was all we really knew here in Australia. These days, regions like Yarra, Mornington, Heathcote, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and beyond are experimenting with exciting international varieties that suit these climates better and Australian wine consumers are leaning in to trying these new styles armed with knowledge of where the grapes hail from and what they can expect in the glass.

South Australian wines still dominate the Classification list – what are some of your favourites?

The work that Sami Odi and Standish are turning out is and always has been ahead of the winemaking and stylistic curve in Australia, particularly for shiraz. Their respective suites of wine always impress me. You can smell and taste the effort being put into each cuvee from judicious oak treatment, spot on maceration times and the careful use of whole bunches to add complexity. The packaging, too.

Then there is Rockford – the winery that helped me fall in love with wine. Still unashamedly Barossan in style, these wines are heady but balanced, rich but structural, long-lived but easy to enjoy and always showing well.

One of the true wine institutions of South Australia. Last, but certainly not least are the wines of Wendouree. A flawless suite of wines from ancient vines tended by the talented Brady Family. When I’m lucky enough to see and taste these wines I’m quickly reminded why they are considered here and around the globe as Australia’s finest (cult) wine.

What about a Victorian wine we need to know about?

Bindi Block 5 is at the top of its game and near on the benchmark for Pinot in Australia. By Farr continue the improve the long-held belief that the Farr family are one of the most talented wine families in the country. Mount Mary has always been one of the great names in Australian (not just Victorian) wine and their Quintet, Pinot and Chardonnay are a suite of wines near unparalleled for quality in Australia (their Triolet is an absolute sleeper. One of the great white Bordeaux blends)

What makes Chardonnays from Macedon so unique?

Chardonnay grown in Macedon receives the coolest growing conditions in the state. Ripening is often delayed which, as spoken about above, helps retain a stunning natural acidity. That, coupled with cool nights adds to the depth and flavour accumulation in the fruit and then the wine, essentially producing a layered, complex version of Chardonnay nowhere else in Australia can achieve.


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