Wines Of Australia And California
( Originally Published 1907 )
THE climate of Australia can hardly be said to be in all respects suited to the successful production of wine. Droughts are frequent, as are also heavy rains, and such conditions, alternating, are not favourable to the vine. The great heat at the time of the vintage constitutes also a difficulty which ordinary methods cannot effectually deal with, and which modern science cannot be expected always entirely to overcome.
It is claimed for these wines that they have their own special characteristics, and make their own standard, that they have created a new and distinct type of wine, and that it is as unreasonable to judge Australian wines by continental growths as to compare Port with the production of the Medoc. However this may be, and whether it is unreasonable or not to compare Australian wines with European ones, the fact remains that the ordinary consumer who knows anything about wine will undoubtedly make the comparison, and up to the present at least, the balance of advantage has not been on the side of the Colonial wines.
It does not seem likely that Australian vintners will ever endeavour to enter into effective rivalry with the vignerons of Europe, but in the event of their desiring Englishmen to take the wines of the Antipodes seriously, Australians must conform to French and German practice as regards the classification of their produce. At present, by far the greater part of the annual output is mixed together and shipped under the name of "Australian Burgundy," with no description beyond the shipper's name or brand. For the unexacting palates of the masses, who are content to ask no questions so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong, full-bodied, fruity wine, this policy may serve very well; but the connoisseur must not be expected to show much interest in the matter until he is in a position to compare one vineyard or region with another, and also to contrast different years. From the nature of the case a good year in Europe may be a very bad one under the Southern Cross, and it follows, therefore, that labels should be dated, and information as to the successful years supplied. When they are challenged on the subject, patriotic Australians often declare that their Continent yields several named Clarets and Burgundies of great distinction and refinement; but they add that the small supplies of these wines are consumed by Australians them-selves. It is a pity that a hogshead or two cannot be spared for the benefit of the Old Country; but until this is done Englishmen must not be blamed for their scepticism or indifference.
Wines of California
California, with its many natural advantages, can justly claim a place among the principal wine producing countries of the world. Its climate is very uniform, and well adapted to vine cultivation, and in that respect it has a great advantage over Europe, where difficulties are often to be met with on account of the seasons being variable and uncertain. The soil in the wine-growing districts is also said to resemble closely that of some of the notable vine-yards in France, and as climate and soil are very important factors in wine production—nationality not counting for much in the final result—it is not surprising that these wines find a certain amount of favour in some quarters.The best ones are the natural dry varieties, and of these the white wines chiefly resemble the German Hocks. Of the red varieties the Burgundy types are perhaps the best, and some fair Clarets are produced, but the absence of fuller information renders these wines less interesting than they might otherwise be.