Though once dominated by British culinary tastes, Australian cuisine is now influenced by a variety of Mediterranean and Asian foods introduced by immigrant cultures. Many people living outside of Australia think of native Bush Tucker when they contemplate Australian food, but Southeast Asian, Greek, Lebanese and Italian influences are now more common.
Len Evans, arguably Australia's first wine writer and certainly its first influential wine promoter, also had a marked effect on wine's popularity. He was director of the Wine Bureau in the 1960's, founded the Rothbury Estate in the Hunter Valley and has played a pivotal role in the illustrious Petaluma. He is Australia's best-known wine ambassador abroad, a show judge par excellence whose skills are in demand in many countries. His influence as a judge has injected a global perspective into the wine industry's thinking. His lifelong contribution to spreading the enjoyment of wine resulted in his winning a prestige decoration for service to wine, the Maurice O'Shea Award in 1991.
Wolf Blass arrived in Australia 30 years ago and has built his brand into perhaps the most widely recognized in Australia. His is a "household name" and not only is Wolf a great marketer who has set new standards in wine promotion, he's also an excellent winemaker and his use of new oak barrels in his full-bodied dry white and particularly his red table wines has been very influential. Rich, soft, oaky red wines which are eminently drinkable when young are perhaps his greatest gift to the Australian wine repertoire.
Max Schubert was Penfolds' chief winemaker for many years and originated their world-renowned Grange Hermitage, made entirely from Shiraz, a grape that has become synonymous with Australian red wines. Schubert was the first winemaker to use small, new oak barrels in the making of premium red wines, following his visit to Bordeaux in 1950. His creative experimentation led to the strong range of cellarworthy, pedigreed reds for which Penfolds is famous today.
Brian Croser first made his presence felt as a tutor in wine science and a winemaking consultant, and then as founder, managing director and winemaker at Petaluma, a leading winery in the Adelaide Hills. His adoption of modern winemaking technology with its enhancement of primary fruit flavors has profoundly influenced the way modern Australian wines—red, white and sparkling—are made. Champagne Bollinger is a partner in his winery, and his 'Croser' is a leader in the evolution of premium sparkling wine style.
Murray Tyrrell's first love is cattle farming, but after inheriting his family's wine business in the Fifties he rapidly rose to prominence and as a pioneer of, firstly, Chardonnay and then pinot noir he has had more influence than perhaps any other living wine identity. After tasting his first French white burgundies in the 1960's, he planted Chardonnay cuttings and made the first commercial 100 per cent Chardonnay varietals, beginning with the 1971 vintage. Tyrrell's Vat 47 Chardonnay rapidly became famous, a pace-setting Chardonnay that is still one of Australia's best. In the early Seventies he also produced the first varietal pinot noirs, his 1976 winning the Gault Millau Wine Olympiad in 1979 against stiff competition from Burgundy. Tyrrells also make some of the best of the Hunter Valley's most traditional wines: dry whites from semillon and reds from Shiraz.
James Halliday is Australia's leading author of wine books, a regular wine columnist and now one of the country's top winemakers as well. His Coldstream Hills winery in Victoria's Yarra Valley, established less than a decade ago, has already carved a great reputation, partly through unparalleled achievements in wine competitions but also in critical acclaim. Pinot noir is Halliday's obsession and his wine and his Chardonnay have already won several accolades on the world stage. He has led the evolution of pinot noir style from a simple, fruit-based flavor to a more complex pseudo-Burgundian style.
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This page modified January 2007
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