Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

A Tour Down Under, conclusions


It was always going to be the trip of a lifetime but, my word, it lived up to that billing. There are so many positives to Australia and New Zealand. I couldn’t help thinking that these young nations are energetic, vibrant and forward thinking in comparison to so much of Europe. Links with Pacific and Asian countries are to the fore and that will be their future though they retain a tremendous affection for their European links. The many people who were more than keen to talk with us were rightly proud of their countries, eager to find out about our trip and delighted to hear our enthusiasm. Positivity abounds.

The people themselves were such a highlight, as I have said before, they are helpful, polite and know how to enjoy themselves. The climate is obviously helpful in encouraging outdoor lifestyles, admittedly we were very lucky with the weather on our trip.

The wildlife was a constant joy, seeing kangaroos, koalas and kiwis in real life was just marvellous. Birds, fish and shark were stunning. Please look after them.

Above all though it was the joy of their natural landscapes which will live longest in the memory. These are jaw droppingly beautiful countries with such variety from coastlines, mountains, equatorial forest to the wonders of the Barrier Reef. Add on man made wonders such as Sydney Harbour’s Bridge and Opera House, I find myself smiling just thinking about them all.

Regarding wine. To be honest overall I was a trifle disappointed with so many wines and wine lists. The safe, conventional and commercial are everywhere. Perfectly drinkable wines but lacking excitement. However, dig a little and quality emerges. From Kalleske in the Barossa to Hans Herzog in Marlborough and Domaine Road in Otago I found conventional wines that were very good to drink. The highlights though were from the emergence of a natural wine scene in both countries. Kindeli, Cambridge Road and The Hermitage Ram in New Zealand were certainly highlights. Shobbrook, Sullivan, Tausend are names to look up in Australia.

In a way though I was spoiled early on. The Adelaide Hills was the source of so many of my favourite wines of the trip. There is a lively community of producers, supporting each other, who are making exciting, vibrant clean wines. Gentle Folk, Jauma, Manon, Basket Range, The Other Right are just some of the names to seek out. Add to that list the excellent bottles of my friend James Madden of Little Things wines. I am biased but his wines were amongst the best I tasted during this trip. The brilliant Chardonnay, refreshing PetNat, complex Field Blend were all in my top wines.

Australia and New Zealand have young winemakers looking to break with traditional methods. Behind the wave of producers in Europe perhaps but starting to create an impression and proving to my mind that there will be some wonderful wines to savour in coming years. It is no coincidence that most of these producers have worked in Europe, for example James at Jeff Coutelou’s. They will use that learning, adapt it to their local conditions to make their interpretation of Australian and New Zealand wines. I buy into their vision wholeheartedly.

Thanks to everyone we met for making the trip so special. Above all thanks to James, Sam, Flo and Pat for sharing their home with us and being so generous. And to Howard, a great chef, host and friend.


Author: amarch34

I'm a recently retired (early!) teacher from County Durham in North east England. I am going to be spending most of the next year in the Languedoc leaarning about wines, vineyards and the people who care for both.

4 thoughts on “A Tour Down Under, conclusions

  1. It does sound like a wonderful trip, and I think for any engaged individual it will be the people who make it.

    It’s easy, in our current situation, to see Aussies and NZers as more forward looking. Those countries have their own problems too, and there’s plenty of vinous excitement of the highest order in Europe. But from what I see and hear (when the natural wine crowd head down under), there is just so much going on.

    I wish I’d had time to suggest a whole load more bars to try natural wines. These are places mostly gleaned from following Severine from Ten Bells in NYC and Rachel Signer of Terre Magazine. They have just spent the harvest (mainly) in South Australia.

    I am also cross I didn’t tell you to look for the (now out of print afaik) The Future Makers by Max Allen. That 2010 book really caught so many of the producers we know and love as they were starting out, and set the scene with the earliest bio stars.

    Id also say that the Instagram community truly provides, in an international sense, the glou (sic) that binds us.


    • It was indeed wonderful, hope yours was too? As an outsider It’s easy to comment without being fully aware and l have tried to say that, however there is a clear energy about both countries and the Asian Pacific link is everywhere. There were definite disappointments, lack of recycling being one.
      Yes wish I’d seen that book, fortunately James and Howard pointed me in the right direction in oz.


  2. Looks like a fabulous trip. Wonderful photos – I feel like I’ve been there!

    Liked by 1 person

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