Western Australia wine region

Western Australia
Western Australia is the largest Australian state, but only its south-west corner is suitable for vineyards.  It produces less than 5% of Australia’s wines but a much higher proportion of the top-quality ones.  Winemaking here began in the hot and dry Swan Valley just upstream from Perth, the state capital.  The Swan is still home to many of the region’s wineries including the giant Houghton (their “White Burgundy”, today called HWB, was for many years Australia’s biggest-selling white), but today the grapes they process are likely to have come from cooler areas to the south.
 
By far the most important and prestigious of these is Margaret River, whose position at the state’s south-western tip, facing due west into the Indian Ocean, allows it to benefit most from cool westerly winds and cold Antarctic currents.  The first wines from here emerged in the early 1970s, but rapidly established a reputation as Australia’s most elegant Cabernets and Chardonnays.  Today its zesty Sauvignon/Semillon blends are just as highly regarded.
 
100km southeast of Margaret River, the twin regions of Pemberton and Manjimup are noted for fine Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.  Further east still lies the huge but sparsely populated Great Southern, which has some of the coolest and wettest vineyards in Australia.  Much of the fruit grown here is processed in Margaret River or even the Swan Valley, though a small but growing number of boutique wineries produce exciting Riesling and other cool-climate varieties.
 
Frankland River is the most important subregion of Great Southern.  It is the furthest inland, in Great Southern’s north-east corner, and shares a border with Manjimup.  Its more continental climate is tempered by it also being the highest subregion.  The deep, iron-rich, gravelly soils here are particularly suited to Bordeaux varieties, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, but it also produces excellent Riesling and Shiraz.

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