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The Delicious Down Under - Wines from AU & NZ

The Delicious Down Under - Wines from AU & NZ

Your Gateway to Wines from the South Pacific

Welcome to the delicious world of Wines from Down Under. While Australia and New Zealand are relative newcomers to the international wine scene, both countries hold their own on the premium wine playing field. As New World wine regions, the two countries aren’t beholden to the hundreds of years of tradition of Old World wine regions, allowing them to experiment; push boundaries; and, ultimately, revolutionize the way the world views, produces, styles, and packages wine. From rich, smooth Barossa Shiraz to mouth-puckering Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Australia and New Zealand are two wine-producing countries to watch.

Wine Regions of Australia and New Zealand

In the late 1990s, New Zealand launched a major initiative to move all bottles from cork to screw top. This happened for three reasons: most importantly, to avoid 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (or TCA) contamination. TCA is a chemical compound that is the leading cause of cork taint, brought on when naturally occurring, airborne bacteria or fungi come in contact with chlorinated phenolic compounds. In short, the presence of TCA and cork taint causes the wine to spoil and smell like wet cardboard. Although the percentage of bottles affected by TCA is relatively small, it can be devastating to boutique wine brands that do not produce in large quantities. This switch to screw cap also helps to preserve the fresh, fruit-forward flavors that white wines in New Zealand are known for as well as to clearly distinguish the New Zealand wine style and culture from “old world” European culture. Australian wines soon followed New Zealand with the screw top trend, and now, a high percentage of Aussie wine is also closed with a screw top. These countries in the Southern Pacific region take pride in their unique style of wines and take risks to break free from European traditions and rituals in winemaking.

New Zealand Screwcap Initiative

A Brief History of Australian Winemaking

All the Koalifications

Australia’s wine history dates back to 1788, when settlers from South Africa brought over rootstock to plant the first grapevines. In the mid-1800s, French immigrants arrived in Australia, bringing with them their own cuttings, knowledge, and improved winemaking techniques.

However, wine in Australia didn’t really catch on with the local population for some time. By the mid-1960s, domestic annual consumption was estimated to be just over two bottles per person. Australians preferred a sweeter sip: 80% of wines consumed at the time were fortified wines, like Sherry or Port.

Thankfully, styles and tastes changed with time, and by the 1980s, the Australian wine industry exploded in production, exportation, and international (as well as local) consumption. With Australian wine’s new popularity came exploration into new varietals and techniques. By 1996, local consumption increased to an estimated 24 bottles per person, and 80% of wines consumed were table wines. Australia has since become the sixth top wine producer in the world, producing nearly 12 million hectoliters (or roughly 317 million gallons) of wine in 2019. 

Australian & New Zealand Wine Regions & Varietals

Top Wine Varietals & Regions from Australia

Australia is a massive and diverse wine region, with over 100 grape varieties and 65 distinct wine regions. Geographically, it is split into five major wine-growing regions: New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and parts of Queensland and South Australia. Yet most of the country’s wine grapes are grown in its southeast regions, the north being too tropical and the center being too dry and hot. Alone, the state of South Australia produces more than half of the country’s wine. It is the driest state in Australia, which is the driest continent in the world.

Australia is mainly known for its Shiraz, or Aussiefied Syrah, and Chardonnay varietals. In fact, these two varieties alone account for 44% of its total wine production! Ever open to new challenges, this region is diversifying rapidly as growers are replanting many vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir.

“I worked in Australia for the 2004 harvest at Mitchelton Wines in Victoria. This was an incredible experience, not just for the friendships I made, but also for the diversity of wines that I helped to craft,” says In Good Taste Head Winemaker, Matt Smith. “I loved working with Shiraz (new for me I was a Pinot guy) and the other Rhȏne varietals from the Estate, Cabernet from Coonawarra and Heathcote. Some of the greatest wines I’ve experienced were all there, ‘Down Under.’”

Australian & New Zealand Wine Facts

The Barossa Valley in South Australia, with its Mediterranean-esque climate, dry summer weather, and overall very low rainfall, is ideal for shiraz. The soil here is dark red and brown, and is made up of alluvial, loam, clay, and schist soil types, which hold heat and ease the ripening of wine grapes. The vines in Barossa are unique in that they are very old and located in a region so far protected from the vine-killing pest phylloxera. Shiraz wines produced in this region are big, bold, and full-bodied, with rich texture and concentrated fruit. While shiraz accounts for over 51% of all the grapevines planted in the Barossa Valley, it’s worth noting that grenache and other red grape varietals are also grown here.

If you drive about one hour south of Barossa, still in the South Australia region, you will reach Adelaide, a region producing world-class Pinot Noir. This grape thrives well in the sloping topography and cool climate.

The cool climate of Clare Valley in South Australia is perfect for Australia’s world-class Riesling grapes. The crisp and pure air deters one of wine’s biggest foes – an anamorphic fungus known as botrytis – resulting in clean, fresh, limey fruit. And cooler nights in the Clare Valley ensure that these Rieslings have high acidity and a dry finish.

For still and sparkling wines, we reach another cool and dry climate on the island of Tasmania, just south of Australia’s mainland. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the two most-planted grapes in this region; however only one percent of Australian wines originate in Tasmania, and due to the overwhelming demand and high quality, the price of wines coming out of this region are relatively high.

Top Wine Varietals of Australia and New Zealand

A Brief History of New Zealand Wines

Kicking it Down to Kiwi Land

They say that good things come in small packages, and this is especially true of the tiny wine region of New Zealand. The North and South Islands of New Zealand have 11 wine regions, totaling just over 700 miles. The wine regions on North Island include Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, and Wairarapa. South Island boasts Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Central Otago, the southernmost wine region in the entire world!

The history of winemaking in New Zealand dates back to 1851, when the first grapevines were planted; however some of the more recently popular regions, like Martinborough, have only 30 years in the winemaking industry. In such a short amount of time, the innovation of New Zealand wineries have made a substantial impact on the wine industry and has made its mark to become one of the world’s most popular wine-producing regions.

“I spent an incredible two weeks exploring the South Island of New Zealand. Visiting a wonderful friend and winemaker there in Marlborough, I had access to some of the greatest wines in the region,” reminisces Matt Smith. “These wines truly express a sense of place. I returned to California with an appreciation for the incredible wealth and variety of great wines ‘Down Under’ and an understanding that the best wines perfectly express their origin!”

Notable New Zealand Wines

In all, 80% of wines grown and produced in New Zealand are white wines, and the country’s flagship varietal is its Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region, affectionately called a “Kiwi wine icon.” Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is typically high in acidity and herbaceous, with heavy aromas of fresh-cut grass and citrus aromas like grapefruit making it easy to identify in most blind tastings. “The Kiwi terroir leaves an indelible trace on their wines that is unmistakable. Green, grassy and green pepper characters are New Zealand’s signature. At their most intense, they resemble jalapeno pepper and boxwood,” explains Smith.

Hawkes Bay, the second-largest wine region in New Zealand, found on the North Island, is known for producing world-class Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. The Sauvignon Blanc from Hawkes Bay is closer to an old-world Bordeaux style, with softer acidity than the fruit-forward Marlborough style. Syrah from Hawkes Bay is loved for its elegance and rich, dark, plum flavors. Hawkes Bay has long sunny days that add to the development of aromas and flavors in Syrah; the cool nights maintain the freshness of the grapes, making for very unique-tasting Syrahs.

The maritime climate in New Zealand lends a strong ocean influence as no wine region is more than 80 miles from the ocean. Ocean breezes bring long, hot days and cool nights to this New World wine region of the Southern Hemisphere.

Wines from Down Under

Whether you are drinking wine from the big island of Australia or the tiny islands of New Zealand, the wines from Down Under are clearly creating a beautiful legacy in the world’s wine culture. When you think of “New World” wine, these two countries are in the top five regions to watch as they continue making a name for themselves with experimental techniques, biodynamic farming methods, and distinct tastes that reflect the unique terroir of the South Pacific. From the grassy notes of New Zealand’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to the bold peppery flavors of Australia's Barossa Valley Shiraz, and every wine region in between, the Australasian winemakers are sharing their story with the world one glass at a time.

Wines Down Under - Infographic of Austalian and New Zealand wines

Big Reds

Our Favorites

Big. Bold. Unapologetic. The rich, unmistakable flavors of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, and Bordeaux Rouge in our Big Reds collection are perfect for the unwavering palate that demands something more.

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Vine Voyage Top 3

Our Favorites

The Vine Voyage bundle will remind you why France and Italy are two of the most well-known, wine-producing countries in the world. Take your senses to the European countryside with Montepulciano, Rosé of Sangiovese, and Nerello Cappuccio.

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Light Reds

Our Favorites

Like the infectious laugh of a best friend, these wines will warm your soul and lighten your mood. Our Light Reds bundle with a Grenache, Coteaux Borguignons AOC, and Pinot Noir are sure to be your new wine besties!

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International Whites

Our Favorites

Experience a world-class wine tour for your tastebuds from the comfort of home. This bundle features incredible selections from France and Italy that will have you ready to grab your passport and hop a plane.

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California Wine Mixer Top 3

Our Favorites

Californian wine is a state of mind. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosé, and Red Wine from our California Wine Mixer bundle can transport your state of mind (and palate) all the way to The Golden State.

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Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.

$19.99

Sauvignon Blanc

La Pluma

We couldn't have rosé and Pinot Grigio at the La Pluma party without inviting its ring leader, Sauvignon Blanc. If Pinot Grigio is the dry, acidic friend of the group and rosé is the always highly affable one, Sauvignon Blanc exists between the two to create true Zen. An interesting and addictive blend of grapefruits and herbs set this white wine apart and makes it incredibly difficult to resist, especially when the temperature is high and your desire for refreshment is higher. La Pluma Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect poolside or beach companion; just be sure to bring a few bottles because your friends will definitely want to partake, and we don't blame them!

Barbera

Wild Child

The perfect pizza wine. Barbera is a simple wine that’s not only easy for winemakers to make, but easier to drink. It’s low in alcohol and an Italian red wine we implore you try chilled because it’s truly *chef’s kiss*. Classic Barberas are fruity, medium bodied and offer the perfect hint of tartness. It’s also the best of both worlds in terms of light and heavy red wines. Let’s say you’re having a friend over who always prefers a cab, but you’re more of a Pinot Noir kinda gal. Order a pizza and open the Barbera for a perfect middle ground kind of evening. After all, the combo of good red wine and pizza is the great equalizer.

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

$20.99

Cabernet Sauvignon

Unprecedented

If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Rosé

La Pluma

While it's the unofficial official wine of summer and warm weather situations, La Pluma's Rosé is one you can drink year-round, no matter the occasion. All rosé wine is derived from red grapes, and the result exceeds expectations in terms of highly-sippable, easy-drinking wine. This La Pluma Rosé is as light as its feathery namesake and is best served extremely chilled for an extremely chill afternoon of nothing but vibes. And maybe a few snacks.

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

$19.99

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

$25.99

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Nerello Cappuccio

Wild Child

This is not your average Italian red. Nerello Cappuccio is a dark-skinned grape variety from Sicily, the Mount Etna region to be exact (yes, the volcano). Although its color is vibrant, you might be surprised to know that it’s a much softer red than it looks to be. Our Nerello Cappuccio is cherry-forward, with other tasting notes of vanilla, light coffee (like your favorite breakfast blend), and minerals. The delicate tannins in this Sicilian wine will surprise and delight you and tastes exceptionally good paired with margherita pizza or arancini balls (drool).

Chardonnay

Unprecedented

Ah, Chardonnay. This full-bodied and diverse wine is polarizing in its very nature: from an oak barrel-aged buttery, oaky, rich white wine, to a stainless steel-aged, mineral-driven neutral wine. Our classic Unprecedented California Chardonnay is the former, and will surely become a new favorite. Its buttery vanilla nature pairs extremely well with like-minded buttery, creamy foods such as brie cheese, lobster, crab cakes, crème brûlée, squash, corn, and mushrooms.

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Red Wine

Unprecedented

We’d love to introduce you to our old friend: Unprecedented Red Wine. She’s a 2019 blend that has been with us through it all and grown to be one of our more popular wines. She’s a mix of all the best Italian grapes: Barbera, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo with a splash of Mourvèdre and a few others. They’re all hanging out, having one big, juicy, delicious party! Tasting notes include a touch of spice, a hint of leather, and some of the best juicy fruits, including blackberries. She truly gets along with just about everybody!

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Tempranillo

Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.

$21.99

Dolcetto

Andiamo

The Dolcetto grape is an easy, laid-back, relaxed Italian wine experience. Its literal translation may throw you, though—Dolcetto means “little sweet one” in Italian, but this wine is anything but. Packed with black fruit flavors like plum, blackberries, and black raspberries, this wine has the tasty necessities that make it a true Italian drinking wine. With moderate tannins and relatively low acidity, our Dolcetto is the perfect choice for just about any occasion. This lighter red Italian wine tastes even better when paired with poultry dishes like duck or chicken and really shines with a lighter pasta.

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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