Clark Wine Center

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Wine guide to Australia

Date:   September 24, 2010

Philippines Wine Shop Clark Wine Center is pleased to share with you articles, news and information about wine, wine events, wine tasting and other topics related to wine and the appreciation of wine.

From the outside, Australia as a wine-producing nation seems to have come from nowhere. Its wines have only made an impact on the international scene in the last two decades, and yet now it is responsible for more sales by volume in the UK than any other country, France included. The wines range from bargain basement reds and whites, up to the premium red wines such as Penfold’s Grange and Jim Barry’s Armagh.

Of course, the view from the outside is somewhat distorted. Wine production, in both quantity and quality, has been a feature of Australia for centuries, not decades. It has well established wine styles that it can call its own, led by the splendid fortified Muscat wines. Sparkling red is also a popular style in Australia, and certain regions do wonderful things with the Semillon grape. And we haven’t even mentioned the Shiraz (known as Syrah in the Rhône Valley in France) and Cabernet Sauvignon based red wines

Although a vast continent, the vineyards of Australia are mainly concentrated in the south east, in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. There are regions of interest elsewhere, however, not least Margaret River, a relatively cool climate region in Western Australia. This is why, despite the amount of Australian wine available in the UK, and the size of the country itself, it only ever ranks sixth or seventh in the league tables for wine production by volume.

The Big Names

The wine industry in Australia, as with many nations of the New World, is dominated by a few big names. Without doubt the most significant in Australia is Southcorp, a veritable giant. It owns Penfolds, Lindemans, Seppelt, Seaview and Wynns among others, and as of 2001 it also took a controlling share in Rosemount Estate. There are a vast array of wines, produced in all the regions of the continent. Of the names listed, the most significant is Penfolds, but Rosemount also has an important slice of the UK market.

New South Wales

In the north east is the Hunter Valley, one of the most long established wine regions, and in New South Wales doubtlessly one of the most significant. Frequently divided into Lower and Upper Hunter, it is responsible for the excellent Semillon wines mentioned above, as well as some characterful Shiraz, and nowadays some good Chardonnay as well.

My top wines: Brokenwood, Mount Pleasant, Tyrell’s, Rosemount (Roxburgh Chardonnay).

Other regions in New South Wales include Mudgee, a small region not far from the Hunter Valley, and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, also known as Riverina, which has for long been responsible for large amounts of cheap wine, but is now seeing some investment at the hands of Rosemount.

My top wines: The top dessert wine from Australia, Noble One, is produced by De Bortoli who are based in Griffith near Riverina. Rosemount (Mountain Blue Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon) and Huntington Estate (both Mudgee).


To the south of New South Wales is Victoria, where there are some exciting wines produced, not least from the cool coastal areas. The Mornington Peninsula is one such area, and it is responsible for some of the few interesting Pinot Noir wines produced in Australia. Nearby is the wonderful Yarra Valley, another classic and long established cool region, with no less history than the Hunter Valley. Here there are more excellent Pinot Noir reds. The third of the cool coastal regions is Geelong. This area was devastated by the vine louse Phylloxera, but was replanted in the 1960s.

My top wines: Jasper Hill (Heathcote), Stoniers, Dromana, Moorooduc (Mornington), Yarra Yering, Tarrawarra, Yarra Ridge, Yerringberg, Coldstream Hills, Domaine Chandon’s Green Point (all Yarra Valley), Bannockburn (Geelong)

Further inland, the Goulburn Valley and Great Western are two of the more significant regions, the others including Macedon and the Pyrenees. The Goulburn Valley has a temperate climate and some famous old wineries produce some delicious red and white wine. From Great Western come some excellent sparklers and classic Shiraz.

My top wines: Tahbilk, Mitchelton (Goulburn Valley), Seppelt, Mount Langhi-Ghiran (Great Western), Jasper Hill (Central Victoria).

To the north east are Rutherglen, King Valley and Milawa, fortified and dessert wine regions. There are also some good table wines produced.

My top wines: Bailey’s, Chamber’s Rosewood, Mick Morris and Brown Brothers make excellent fortified wines. The latter also produces an array of interesting table wines.

South Australia

The names of the wine regions of South Australia are some of the most familiar of this continent. Nevertheless, some of the most enjoyable wines are the regional blends, made from grapes harvested in a number of different wine regions. These wines are labelled solely as South Australia without any further detail on origin. Many will be mass produced wines made for early consumption, but some are of top quality with excellent cellaring potential. Such wines include those from the Penfolds stable, led by their flagship wine Grange, as well as their Bin 707 and Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignons and Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz.

Furthest south is Coonawarra, a region of considerable repute, and many would agree it is the finest region of South Australia. Its future depends on whether the name can be restricted to those parts that lie on the famous Terra Rossa soils which are responsible, to some extent, for the quality of the wines produced. Cabernet Sauvignon excels here, but there is also Chardonnay, Shiraz and other grapes.

My top wines: Katnook Estate, Petaluma, Lindemans (St.George Vineyard, Pyrus & Limestone Ridge).

Further north, Padthaway produces some excellent Chardonnay, as well as some sparkling wines. The Adelaide Hills, together with the Eden Valley and Clare Valley further north again, have also gained a reputation for some excellent white wines. Adelaide has some excellent Chardonnay, whereas both Eden and Clare have gained a reputation for Riesling, although the latter also produces some very significant Shiraz.

My top wines: Chain of Ponds, Penfolds Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills), Wendouree, Grosset, Jim Barry, Tim Adams, Leasingham (Clare), Pewsey Vale (Eden).

And now we come to another of Australia’s oldest and best known regions, the Barossa Valley. Barossa made its name with big, blockbuster Shiraz, but there are also some good Semillon wines, although none to rival those of the Hunter Valley. As well as numerous vineyards, there are many wineries situated in the Barossa, vinifying grapes trucked in from all over the state.

My top wines: Henshke, Mountadam, Yalumba (Octavius), Peter Lehmann (Stonewell), St Hallett, Charles Melton, Elderton, Grant Burge.

Nearer the coast is McLaren Vale, an historic region which has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. It is best known for its red wines.

My top wines: Clarendon Hills, Rosemount (Balmoral Syrah), Tatachilla, Chapel Hill, Chateau Reynella, d’Arenberg.

Other Regions

On the west coast the relatively cool climate Margaret River has made dramatic leaps in quality. The wines have gained a reputation for elegance rather than power. Nearby is Great Southern, where there are also some wines of interest, and the Swan Valley, a region decreasing in significance.

My top wines: Cullen, Moss Wood, Mount Mary, Cape Mentelle, Leeuwin Estate, Evans & Tate, Vasse Felix (all Margaret River) Howard Park, Goundrey (Great Southern).

Tasmania, off the coast of Victoria, is another cool climate region that has seen expansion in recent years. The vineyards are best suited to white varieties, and there are some good table and sparkling wines appearing.

My top wines: Pirie sparklers, Piper’s Brook.


It is not uncommon to see wine publications offering advice on vintages for the whole of Australia, or perhaps individual states, suggesting that the climate across this huge continent is uniform throughout the year, which is plainly ridiculous. Fortunately, because of Australia’s enviable fine weather, vintages are slightly less important than in Europe, where a spot of bad weather can produce an array of weak, diluted wines and thus ruin a vintage. Nevertheless, I’m not going to generalise about vintages in Australia. Trying to be specific, good vintages for Coonawarra Cabernet include 1998, 1996, 1994, 1991, 1990, 1986 and 1982.


Clark Wine Center was built in 2003 by Hong Kong-based Yats International Leisure Philippines to become the largest wine shop in Philippines supplying Asia’s wine lovers with fine vintage wines at attractive prices.  Today, this wine shop in Clark Philippines offers over 2000 selections of fine wines from all major wine regions in the world.  As a leading wine supplier in Philippines, Pampanga’s Clark Wine Center offers an incomparable breadth of vintages, wines from back vintages spanning over 50 years.  Clark Wine Center is located in Pampanga Clark Freeport Zone adjacent to Angeles City, just 25 minutes from Subic and 45 minutes from Manila.

Wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Loire, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Alsace, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, South Africa, Chile and Argentina etc. are well represented in this Clark Wine Shop.

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