Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
American wine drinkers, I think, largely labor under the mistaken idea that Australian wine can be summed up in one word: Shiraz. Not that I’ve got anything against the grape - Shiraz (known as Syrah pretty much everywhere else) is one of the great wine varieties of the world.
What people don’t realize, unfortunately, is the extraordinary variety of other wines that Australia produces. It’s not actually a surprise, when you think about it - after all, you can fit France into Australia about 17 times over, so wouldn’t it make sense that the Aussies might have enough different climates and terrains to grow more than one kind of grape? Besides, people have been making wine in Australia since 1791; if the only thing to put in the bottle were Shiraz, Australia’s winemakers would have long since expired from boredom.
With that in mind, here are a few great non-Shiraz Aussie values I came across on a recent trip there:
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