Don’t for a second think that Australia is home solely to amazing red wines such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, oh no. We here Down Under are also masters of white wines, from crisp and thirst-quenching light and dry whites all the way through to fuller, medium-bodied varietals.
The most popular bottles in Australia are without doubt Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, although others such as the Sémillion grape are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the Hunter Valley region. South Australia, however, is easily the most important wine-growing region (although, not just for white wine, but all Australian wine) with the different sub-regions producing white wines of varying tastes and textures.
Unlike with Australian red wine, which has an overarching producer in the form of Penfolds, there is no real main producer of Australian white wine (although Penfolds does produce some exemplary Chardonnays).
As we’d always say, finding the best Australian white wine for you is as easy as going to some Cellar Doors, trying the wines on offer and seeing how your tastebuds react. After all, wine can become an incredibly expensive hobby if you don’t know what you’re doing (or even if you do, as it happens).
To help make your search for some amazing white wines that bit easier, we’ve put together this list of the best Australian white wines currently available, encompassing different grape varietals and various budgets.
For some extra help and insider knowledge, we’ve previously reached out to some expert Australian sommeliers, to spill the grapes with regards to how to pick a great white wine.
How To Pick A Great White Wine
- When selecting, start with varietal, then region: “There’s a reason Chardonnay and Riesling attract the most attention from wine lovers worldwide; they are without a doubt the two greatest white wine varietals – and lucky for us they both fare well here in Australia,” (Nick Stamford, Managing Director of MW Wines).
- Don’t write off vintages from cooler regions. Nick also told us that. “In places like Victoria’s Yarra Valley and Macedon –or even down in Tasmania – the cool climate means grapes are given time to ripen slowly on the vine, developing delicate fruit flavours. These aren’t your 1990s style big buttery chardonnays; it’s a leaner and crisper style.”
- In the mouth you’re looking for good acid, almost sharp in your mouth (the opposite, a more velvet finish, is known as ‘flabby’ acid and won’t give you the refreshment you need in a summer white).
- In the store, select a vintage with good quality grapes and minimal intervention in the cellar.
- If you plan on letting it age, Chiara Danieli, Head Sommelier at Matteo Downtown, says to make sure you buy something acidic: “It’s always very important that a white has high acidity for ageing.” It also, “Needs to be true to the region where it comes from and reflect into the glass the characteristics of the soils and climate.”
Now that you’ve had your crash course in grape slurping, it’s time to step up your summer cellar selection: here are the best producers of white wine in Australia you can rely upon for a delectable drop.
Australian White Wine FAQ
What is the most popular white wine in Australia?
Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in Australia, and even outsells the incredibly popular Shiraz. Chardonnay grapes can be grown virtually anywhere, and so the vast majority of Australian wine makers will have at least one example in their repertoire.
What white wines are dry?
Quite a lot of Australian white wine is dry, with Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay being prime examples.
It was a great decision, as the ILR Reserve Semillon (named after Iain) consistently ranks among the very best and has even picked up a few awards. It’s the perfect representation of what the Hunter Valley has to offer.
Shaw + Smith
Shaw + Smith is not only dedicated to producing great wines but also producing them in sustainable ways, including handpicking grapes and using no herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers on the vines.
The company's Chardonnays are the real standout, with different vineyards and various vintages to choose from. The Riesling selection, predominantly from the Eden Valley is another drop you really need to try.
It's easy to see why, since Jacob's Creek has a plethora of wines covering virtually all the main varietals – think Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc – that cater to all budgets too, making it one of the most accessible wine brands of them all.
Like Jacob's Creek, Tyrrell's has an extensive selection of wines to sample, with numerous labels catering to both the premium end of the market, and those more likely to be destined for easy drinking in the evenings. With such a vast range, it means there is plenty for you to get your lips around, and with many of Tyrrell's wines being highly rated, we highly suggest you do.
However, it does have a few white wines on the books, notably a Chardonnay and a Riesling, both of which hail from the Eden Valley. While these wines are good for drinking straight away, St Hugo recommends cellaring them for up to 10 years to really intensify the flavours.
Bay of Fires
A perfect advert for Tasmian wine, Bay of Fires (which takes its name from the eponymous area some 150km away) takes advantage of the island state's cool climate to produce white wines that include Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
They're consistently regarded as some of the best examples of each varietal. The eponymous label is the one you should be looking out for, but for affordable and easy-drinking bottles, keep your eyes out for the producer's Eddystone Point selection.
Oakridge's current range of white wine comprises predominantly Chardonnay, but we also suggest you seek out the Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.
It certainly shows through the selection of Rieslings available to buy (it was a Riesling that was Jeffrey's first taste of white wine) and this is the dominant variety that Grosset produces, with the Polish Hill label being the one to try first.