Long-time collectors of Australian wine are bound to have a bottle or two from this list. These are the classics: Cullen, Penfolds, Moss Wood and Wynns all feature in this selection, in partnership with Sterling Wine Auctions. Since its beginnings, the local industry’s staples have been shiraz and cabernet, and this round up represents that. From as far back as 20 years ago, and each rated 95 plus points by James, these iconic reds are a cross section of Australia’s best.
1995 Hardys Eileen Shiraz
Medium to full purple-red; a rich and full bouquet with masses of ripe black fruits, dark chocolate and some licorice; the oak is potent, but is justified. A wine which takes no prisoners, but which has fantastic palate flavour, bursting with licorice, black cherry/berry and spice flavours surrounded by ultra-sophisticated vanilla oak.
1996 Penfolds Grange Shiraz
Medium to full red-purple, still bright when I tasted it after five years, vibrant cherry and plum fruit aromas more than handle the oak on the bouquet; the palate is sumptuous, but not heavy, the cherry and plum flavours tracking the bouquet. The wine has a very long finish, with fine, integrated tannins. Destined to become one of the great Granges.
1998 Cullen Cabernet Merlot
For some years this has been my pick as the best Australian cabernet merlot blend, and this vintage does nothing to change my mind. Densely coloured, the bouquet is crammed with rich cassis fruit and oak, as is the imperious palate, with layer upon layer of fruit woven through with powerful but ripe tannins.
1998 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch
Impenetrable red-purple; rich, concentrated and luscious blackberry/blackcurrant/cassis fruit on both bouquet and palate has largely – though not entirely – subsumed the oak. Likewise, the tannins are there, but are in perfect balance.
1999 Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon
Cassis, chocolate and raspberry fruit aromas and flavours fill a wine with excellent structure, weight, texture and balance; a long lingering fruit-driven finish shows the deft use of oak.
2000 Houghton Jack Mann Cabernet Blend
Medium purple-red; scented, vibrant and lively fruit on the bouquet, then a palate flooded with cassis, blackberry, blackcurrant, and also juicy berry from the malbec component; beautifully balanced and structured.
2000 Hanging Rock Winery Shiraz
One of the gold medal winners at the 2002 Visy Board Great Australian Shiraz Challenge. Deeply coloured; abundant dark plum, black cherry and vanilla aromas swirl from the glass, the palate rich in raspberry and plum fruit, the oak (very obvious at the start of the year) settling down impressively.
2001 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon
Spotlessly clean, this is a gorgeous, silky wine flooded with redcurrant, cassis and blackcurrant fruit in a web of fine tannins. Elegance personified, the screwcap guaranteeing a very long life.
2001 Wolf Blass Platinum Shiraz
Deeply coloured; rich and plush, perfectly ripened blackberry fruit; exemplary oak handling and tannin management; great length. Screwcap.
2002 Torbreck RunRig Shiraz
Medium-bodied; fragrant, elegant style with lifted aromatics and a finely drawn, structured and balanced palate; smoky blackberry fruit with just a hint of apricot; fine, long tannins. High quality cork.
2002 Seppelt St Peter’s Great Western Shiraz
Very good colour; aromatic spice and blackberry; has a degree of finesse not always found in St Peters; immaculate judgment of oak and fruit. Quality cork.
2002 Elderton Command Single Vineyard Shiraz
Good colour; excellent focus, balance and length; blackberry fruit with lashings of dark chocolate and spice; ripe tannins, controlled oak.
2004 Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz
Shares with the '03 and the '05 vivid flavours, yet has seamless fruit and oak integration on both the bouquet and palate. The flavours range through the expected spectrum of blackberry, spice, cracked pepper and licorice; long and vibrant mouthfeel, with good acidity.
2005 Woodlands Colin Cabernet Sauvignon
A classic example of cabernet with leafy notes sitting gracefully on top of cassis and a little black olive complexity; rich yet fine on the palate, with plenty of fine-grained tannins; oak dominates now, but will offer real pleasure with time.
2005 Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon
Dense colour; an intense wine with tremendous depth of flavour despite modest alcohol; blackcurrant and blackberry fruit resonates through the palate, which has absorbed its lengthy stay in French oak; the tannins, too, are balanced.
Visit sterlingwine.com.au to bid on top-rated wines, including some from the above list, or sell sought-after wines from your own cellar.