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Historically, the irish have been known for music, drinking, literature, drinking and emigration. That last one is now firmly back on the agenda, with one of the hot spots for hungry Celtic cubs being Australia. Let's hope they're not looking for a job in the wine industry, as Nielsen figures show Australian exports to Ireland were down 24% to the end of September 2009.

The rampant expansion of the past 20 years has turned sour, with experts claiming that maybe 20% to 30% of vineyards will need to be scrapped. Just as they once usurped French market share, now the Chileans and others are eating into their sales. Their response is to try to refocus our attention on their premium (ie expensive) stuff. For most consumers, Brand Australia equals simple sunshine in a bottle, but if you have never traded up, it's time to appreciate their unique and more expensive regional wines.

The best known here of those regions is Barossa, and Wine Australia put on an Australia Day tasting and presentation, hosted by St Hallett winemaker Toby Barlow. Barossa's trump card is chunky reds, in particular Shiraz, and Barlow showed some terrific examples, but there were some wonderful whites on show too.

The Eden Valley sub-region makes stunning Riesling, and that Cinderella grape Semillon can be sensational, too.

Perhaps in return for them taking our emigrants, we could do another of the things we do so well and drink some of their best wines.


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