Skip to main content

Australian winemakers must be watching the resurgence of Brendan Fraser’s career with a sense of optimism. If the leading man who enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom in the 1990s could find his way back into the spotlight after a prolonged absence, maybe Australian shiraz can enjoy a similar comeback.

Open this photo in gallery:

Yalumba Organic ShirazSupplied

Open this photo in gallery:

Elderton Barossa ShirazSupplied

Riding on the overwhelming popularity of shiraz, Australian wine was booming as Fraser was reeling off a string of successful blockbusters. Both enjoyed acclaim throughout the 1990s and early part of the millennium. They fell off the radar around the same time, too, as their respective franchises fizzled out.

Many factors played into the faltering fortunes of Australian wine, including increasing competition from value-oriented wine producers in Argentina, South Africa and sunny spots in Spain and southern Italy. Wine lovers around the world lost their taste for the ripe and seductive style of bargain priced bottles of Australian shiraz. Exports dropped in 2007, from A$3-billion to A$1.8-billion, and Australian producers started to reinvent themselves.

Open this photo in gallery:

Two Hands Gnarly Dude ShirazSupplied

Recent figures from Wine Australia show there are more than 2,000 wine businesses in Australia, which produce over 1-billion litres of wine each year. Two-thirds of wine sales are exports.

Canada is Australia’s fourth-largest export market by value. Sales in 2020 showed increasing interest in white, rosé and sparkling wines, growing by 9 per cent, 15 per cent, and 19 per cent, respectively. Australian chardonnay is an exciting category, with vibrant and focused wines that are truly compelling.

Shiraz continues to be a major force in Australia, the country’s once and future King. It’s the country’s most-planted grape variety, representing 29.5 per cent of total vineyard area, and is grown in most Australian wine regions. No other country can boast the range of styles — from elegant, spicy and lower-alcohol shirazes made in cooler areas like Yarra Valley and Orange, to the traditionally powerful Barossa and McLaren Vale examples — from such a variety of growing areas.

A big part of the Australian wine story is the diversity. It’s an industry that spans more than 60 growing regions. Its vineyards are home to nearly 100 different grape varieties, including some of the oldest continually producing cabernet sauvignon and shiraz vines in the world. There’s plenty to discover — and re-discover — Down Under. If your attention has wandered, it’s worth checking back on shiraz or another Australian wine. There’s still plenty of star power there.

Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes, restaurant news and more. Sign up today.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe