Getting To Know Australian Wines: South Australian Wines You Should Try First

Australia has been growing vines since the British first introduced them there in 1788. These days, the UK imports more wine from Australia than any other country, with South Australia taking the podium as the biggest producer on the Australia wine map. 

We think that accolade makes South Australia a good place to start when getting to know Australian wine. So let’s head off on a tour of the South Australia wine producing region, throwing in a few recommendations on the wines you should be trying first for good measure.

Why South Australian wines?

 South Australia is by far the largest wine production region of Australia, responsible for almost 50% of Australia’s annual production. 

The beauty of South Australia as a wine producing region lies in its climatic and geographic diversity, allowing the state to be able to produce a good range of grape varieties, and an eclectic offering of wines. 

From cool climate, elegantly dry Riesling and lush Chardonnay, to the robust, full-bodied Shiraz wines of the Barossa Valley, there is something for every palate.

South Australian wines

A whistle-stop tour around the South Australia wine map (including our top South Australian wine recommendations) 

Barossa Valley

A few miles outside of Adelaide sits the Barossa Valley, Australia’s most prestigious wine growing area. Barossa Valley wineries are home to some of the world’s oldest living vineyards.

Shiraz, which is identical to the Syrah grape, was first brought to Australia in 1832. It’s a power house of ripe fruit flavours and smoky, mocha aromas with a characteristic earthiness.

Shiraz blends are popular, with wineries using them to coax out higher levels of complexity in their finished wines. A ‘GSM’ blend for example brings together Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro (Mourvèdre). 

Famous producers in the Barossa Valley include Penfolds and Elderton Estate, but there are other South Australian wine brands here producing equally exciting specimens, such as Yalumba with its ‘The Caley’ Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz blend. 

Either side of the Barossa Valley, you’ll find two famous white wine regions. Within Clare Valley, you’ll discover some of the most opulent Riesling in Australia, whereas over in the cooler climes of the elevated Eden Valley, the Rieslings tend to be dry with high minerality.

Heading due south from the Barossa Valley wineries, you find yourself in the Adelaide Hills.

Adelaide Hills

Located here is Longview Vineyard, a family owned Australian vineyard located just outside the historic township of Macclesfield. The Saturno family has brought the spirit of Italy to Australia at Longview, producing exemplary specimens of traditional Northern Italian wines. 

Whilst the climate here is a few degrees warmer than most other Adelaide Hills sites, the wines remain cool climate in style, showing bright acidity and fruity aromas. 

Longview Barbera is a good example of a medium bodied red from this South Australian wines vineyard, displaying savoury notes of nutmeg, spice, rose petal and maraschino cherries. If you’re into your blended reds, we recommend trying Longview LV, a marriage of Shiraz and Cabernet grapes that produces a rich, nicely balanced, oaky finish. 

White wine lovers are by no means overlooked at Longview. Macclesfield Chardonnay is a versatile white with intriguing suggestions of butterscotch, brine and ginger, whilst Vista Grigio Grüner combines the best of Italy and Australia to produce a punchy, vibrant wine bursting with aromas of pine-lime and freshly picked nettles.  

Another of the South Australian wine brands that you’ll find in the Adelaide Hills is La Bise. ‘La Bise’ is French for ‘the kiss’, and each vintage, this winemaker searches the Adelaide Hills for quality fruit to product wines that are distinctive to that vineyard and express its unique flavours through the grapes. 

La Bise Shiraz is a fruit forward wine with a bright acidity that brings it to life. Blackberry, dark cherry and the merest hint of baking spices give it a touch of sophistication.

McLaren Vale

Setting the compass south again, this time we find ourselves at Wirra Wirra Wineries South Australia. Nestled amongst gum trees in the centre of the McLaren Vale region, this vineyard was originally established in 1894 then, after going to rack and ruin following the passing of its founder Robert Strangways Wigley, it was rebuilt by Greg and Roger Trott into the huge success it is today. 

Wirra Wirra 12th Man Chardonnay is one of the must-try South Australian wines, a luscious white infused with flavours of apricot, lemon curd and sweet vanilla, culminating in a long, palate-cleansing mineral finish. 

Close by, still lingering in McLaren Vale, we knock on the door of Hedonist Wines. Whilst a fairly new entrant to South Australian wine brands, having been established in 2005, its founder, Walter Clappis, has been making wine for 40 years and is renowned as one of Australia’s most outstanding winemakers. 

If you’re looking to sample a South Australian red wine that’s complex and textured yet refreshing, try the Hedonist Ecology Grenache. This versatile, food-friendly wine is brightly acidic with fine tannins, and dominant notes of raspberry and cranberry. 

And on that note, we conclude our tour of the South Australia wine map and what we believe are some of the best South Australian wine brands.

Looking to buy Australian wine?

The Oddbins Australian wine range is certain to have just what you’re after. Not sure which of the South Australian wines will best suit your palate? Try our Premium South Australian wine mixed case, or contact our helpful team for advice via Live Chat, e-mail or by calling 0800 328 23 23.