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The Australian Ark – Where Wine and Words Intersect

If one isn’t drinking wine, then the next best thing is surely reading about it. Of course, no reason one can’t do both at the same time.

Ken Gargett  29 April 2024

Andrew Caillard

If one isn’t drinking wine, then the next best thing is surely reading about it. Of course, no reason one can’t do both at the same time.

A new publication by Australian Master of Wine, Andrew Caillard, with assistance from his publisher, Angus Hughson, deserves opening one of your finest bottles when you delve into it. ‘The Australian Ark’, a trilogy which is subtitled ‘The Story of Australian Wine from 1788-2023’, is quite simply the finest book on Australian wine ever written. Incredibly comprehensive, yet never less than riveting, it addresses the wine industry in this country from the arrival of the First Fleet up until today.

The three volumes are divided into –

  1. Australian Colonial Wine, 1788 – 1900.
  2. Federation to the Modern Era, 1901 – 1982.
  3. Contemporary Times: Reflections & Perspectives, 1983 – 2023.

Incredible Detail

Each of the three goes into incredible detail but, as mentioned, remains fascinating and extremely readable. The three total 1,762 pages.

Andrew began researching the project almost twenty years with the intent of publishing a small piece of some 10,000 words. The final project comes in around 500,000 words. It is an extraordinary achievement.

What also must be mentioned are the illustrations. Perhaps it should come as little surprise, as Andrew himself is a highly regarded artist, but the time and effort which has gone into assembling more than 1,200 illustrations, covering every aspect of Australian wine, from bottle shots, people, places and simply the weird and wonderful, is truly astonishing.

The three volumes are all superbly illustrated, which should be no surprise as Andrew himself is a highly respected artist. Indeed, the time that must have gone into accessing and arranging the extraordinarily extensive collection of paintings, photos, memorabilia, bottle shots, and just the weird and wonderful as it pertains to Australian wine, is mindboggling in itself.

Volume 1

Volume 1 looks at wine in Australia from the very first settlement, always maintaining an eye on the settlers and their involvement with the Indigenous Australians. Wine often played a minor role in these days but Andrew has it all thoroughly covered.

Volume 2

Volume 2 commences at Federation and takes us through an extensive time where wine meant very little to many Australians. But this was also the time when the foundation for today’s success was being laid. We meet legendary personalities and famous winemakers, visit new regions and wineries and learn about wines, many of them icons today but just making their debuts back then. It is all fascinating stuff.

Volume 3

The third volume begins in 1983, the time many see as the genesis of today’s wonderful wine industry. Many of the stories, wines and winemakers will be familiar to winelovers today, but many more will be new. Volumes 2 and 3 also feature many of our most famous wines. Andrew, as the man who established Langtons Auction House in Sydney, was one of our earliest Masters of Wine, was the man behind the acclaimed documentary, Red Obsession’ (narrated by Russell Crowe), and much more, is perfectly placed to introduce them.

A Masterpiece

Older readers will find many old friends throughout these volumes while younger winelovers will find them the ideal introduction to Australian wine.

Put simply, this publication truly is a masterpiece. If it does not occupy a prominent place in your wine library, then you are not serious about wine. And if you do not have a wine library, this is the place to start.

There are four different versions – paperback ($199), hardback ($399), Collector’s Linen ($499) and Collector’s Leather ($999).

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