Why Australia’s Coonawarra Still Rules

November 28, 2014 7:36 AM

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Why Australia’s Coonawarra Still Rules

WITH WINE, THERE ARE always anomalies. Take the case of onegentleman I met at a recent tasting who asked what I thought about French wine. A friend of his who lived in France had told him that all wines outside of the country were just too heavy and alcoholic. There’s no doubt, I explained, that vines grown in hotter climates have a propensity to produce riper grapes with higher alcohol levels, but the idea that you could talk about wine in such broad terms—particularly given modern-day expertise in viticulture and winemaking—is laughable. But, I quickly added, great wine does possess a sense of place and should reflect the land, people and climate where it’s grown.

France has been fortunate in that it has had a several-hundred-year head start on many other wine-producing countries, so vintners instinctively know which areas are suited to ripen which grape varieties. Australia, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer, although it has been making wine for more...

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