Australian Wine: Liquid Gold

Australians are changing the world of wine. Even the French seem grateful

Soon after leading the first European crossing of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, explorer Gregory Blaxland was back on his New South Wales farm, tending his vines. By 1822 he had sufficient confidence in his winemaking skills to submit a quarter-pipe (about 37 gal.) of red wine for assessment by the London-based Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. The society's judges awarded him a silver medal--and five years later a gold medal--for a wine they described with tepid enthusiasm as having "much the odor and flavor of ordinary claret."

Blaxland was a colorful pioneer, but the...

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