Australia's white wine scene is a hotbed of quality, and very much on the up. The country's foremost wine communicator, Huon Hooke surveys new and established wineries, large and small, to name his top estates. As published in the Decanter July 2012 issue.
The mere idea of selecting my top 10 Australian white producers is almost an insult to the next 10 – no, the next 50 – in line. I could easily have picked all 10 from purveyors of Hunter Valley Semillon, or Yarra Valley Chardonnay. The important thing was to find a balance between big and small, old and new, varietal specialisations and regions.
If I’d done this 80 years ago, Yalumba would again have figured – but as a master of Riesling. Otherwise, the map has changed beyond recognition. Chardonnay, almost unknown 35 years ago, is now one of Australia’s greatest strengths. Semillon, always a strong suit, is better than ever before, and while it’s a hard sell, its makers and drinkers are ever more passionate.
And there’s a panoply of ‘new’ grapes: Viognier, Pinot Gris, Fiano, Arneis, Vermentino, Roussanne, Gruner Veltliner, Friulano, Greco, Garganega, Grenache Blanc, even Bianco d’Alessano.
Improvement in Aussie whites isn’t limited to the variety: site selection and choice of winemaking technique ensures we have an increasingly fascinating menu from which to drink.
Written by Huon Hooke