The definitive guide to Australian Wines
Each one of these wineries making its debut in the Wine Companion has earned a five-star rating. They are thus the leaders of the 80 new wineries in this edition, although a number of other first-up wineries also achieved five stars. The ultimate selection criteria included the number of wines earning 94 points or above, and value for money.
The five founders of this business have 65 years of experience with every aspect of growing, making, packaging, marketing and selling wine. What is more, their experience has been gained at the top end of their respective careers, three of them with direct links to Great Southern. Each range has been built from the ground up, with four clearly positioned and priced levels.
There has never been a more stellar launch of a new winery venture than this: three wines with 97 points, one with 96 and one with 95. It is the venture of Margaret River winemaker Stuart Pym (whose career in wine dates back to 1983) and business partner (and long-term friend) Phil Giglia. The follow-on vintages are safely locked away, its ongoing success guaranteed. Get on the website list.
Kate Goodman spent seven years at Seppelt’s Great Western winery, interspersed with Flying Winemaker stints in Champagne, Spain and California. She moved to the Yarra Valley to become chief winemaker at Punt Road (from 2001–13), and in ’14 left to lease a small winery with friend Caroline Mooney (Bird on a Wire). Cool climate is her forte, elegance her style.
Most eyes are on the market opportunities in China, but this impressively researched and funded business affirms that it’s not a one-way trade. From humble beginnings in the Taiwanese fish markets 50 years ago, this is now a global wine business headquartered in Australia, with vineyards in the best regions, and former high-profile wine consultant Gary Baldwin now its full-time winemaker.
The Erceg family hit the ground running after it acquired a 13ha Swan Valley site (in 2008) that had been owned by the Roc family since 1829. A winery was built on the property prior to the ’10 vintage, and Ryan Sudano was appointed winemaker. A deluge of gold medals and trophies has followed, for wines made from grapes from Frankland River, Margaret River and the Swan Valley.
This virtual winery venture ticks all the boxes, its partners – Julian Forwood and Bernice Ong – each with vast experience in sales and marketing with some of Australia’s best-known wineries. McLaren Vale’s Blewitt Springs is their home turf, but they didn’t hesitate to go to Tasmania for chardonnay or the Clare Valley for riesling.
Richard Woods and Rasa Fabian spent five years rebranding Crabtree Wines before creating their own business. They had been laying their traps for some time, making their debut with a core of ’10 reds and ’12 Rieslings from the Clare Valley, plus two versions of Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc and a Wrattonbully Barbera – the expected and the unexpected, united by their quality.
The third and fourth generations of the Swinney family live on the 2500ha grazing property on the banks of the Frankland River; in the 1990s they began planting their 108ha vineyards on near to ideal soils, including 6.2ha of bush vines. Larry Cherubino makes the wines, and purchases part of the grape production. Online purchasing is the most likely way to buy the wines.
While only 20ha, this vineyard will become one of Tasmania’s best. Planted in 1988, it was acquired by Michael Hill Smith MW, Martin Shaw and Matthew Hill Smith in 2011. With leading cool-climate viticulturist Ray Guerin, hugely talented Adam Wadewitz as senior winemaker, and David LeMire MW in charge of sales and marketing, it’s a gold-plated certainty to succeed.
Mary and Peter Eriksen purchased 45ha of land at the eastern end of the Barossa Valley in 1994 to raise Murray Grey cattle, only to find they (the cattle) preferred the neighbouring property or the road. Realising that vines did not jump fences, they planted 7ha of shiraz and have not looked back since, moving on from simply selling the grapes to making high-quality wine.
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Wines considered to offer special value for money.