Top 100 wines of 2009

This year saw record number of entries, 1652 compared with the highest prior number of 1258 (in 2004). This partly reflected an increase in the number of prequalified wineries invited to submit samples, although, as always, some elect not to (or forget to) participate.

I should, I suppose, quickly explain the prequalification process. In the main, the wineries will need to have a five star rating in my annual Wine Companion to be included. A few with lower ratings but with wines representing excellent value will also be offered an opportunity. On the debit side, the wineries have to have an adequate commercial amount available of each wine they submit.

You might imagine the last requirement would reduce the number of small wineries able or willing to be involved. If it does, it isn't reflected in the composition of the Top 100 (or, to be pedantic) the 88 Australian table and sparkling wines. Eight came from large companies, 11 from medium-sized businesses, and 69 from small, family operated wineries.

There is much talk about the need to move away from Brand Australia and to refocus our message onto regional wines, and hence regional wineries. On the evidence of this tasting, conducted over two exhausting weeks, there would seem little need to go looking for more wineries or regions.

Rather, much money and time are needed to radically change the perception in the UK and the US of Australian wine as being homogenised and boring, relatively little on increasing the amount of authentic and exciting handmade wines reflecting the exact place of their birth and the philosophy of their makers.

To read the feature article from The Weekend Australian Magazine Top 100 2009 click here.

Category Screwcaps Corks (including Diam and ProCork)
Under $20 Whites 99.6% 0.4%
Under $20 Reds 99.2% 0.8%
Over $20 Whites 96.1% 3.9%
Over $20 Reds 74.3% 25.7%


WHITES UNDER $20

Bellarmine Pemberton Riesling 2009
Wirra Wirra Lost Watch Adelaide Hills Riesling 2009
O'Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling 2009
Heggies Vineyard Eden Valley Riesling 2009
Scarborough Wine Co Green Label Semillon 2009
Brokenwood Hunter Valley Semillon 2009
Mistletoe Home Vineyard Hunter Valley Semillon 2009
Printhie Orange Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Nova Vita Firebird Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Brown Hill Estate Lakeview Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009
Tulloch Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009
West Cape Howe Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Wills Domain Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Mike Press Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2009
Charles Sturt University Chardonnay 2009
Hoddles Creek Estate Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2008
De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2008
Brookland Valley Verse 1 Margaret River Chardonnay 2008
Moondah Brook Verdelho 2008
Fox Gordon Abby Adelaide Hills Viognier 2009


REDS UNDER $20

Hardys Chronicle No. 1 Twice Lost Shiraz Cabernet Rose 2009
Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley McLaren Vale Grenache Rose 2009
Brookland Valley Verse 1 Margaret River Rose 2008
De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2008
Mike Press Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2008
Kirrihill Clare Valley Shiraz 2008
Seville Estate The Barber Yarra Valley Shiraz 2008
Fox Gordon Eight Uncles Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006
Possums Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006
Mistletoe Hilltops Shiraz Viognier 2008
Spinifex Cigale Barossa Valley Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz 2007
Geoff Merrill McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2005
Seppeltsfield Glenpara GSM Barossa Clare Valley Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2006
Watershed Shades Cabernet Franc 2007
Flying Fish Cove Cuttlefish Classic Margaret River Red 2006
West Cape Howe Cabernet Merlot 2007
Brookland Valley Verse 1 Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2007
Majella The Musician Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008
Mike Press Adelaide Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Eden Springs High Eden Cabernet Sauvignon 2006


WHITES OVER $20

Castle Rock Estate Riesling 2008
Delatite Riesling 2008
Pewsey Vale The Contours Museum Reserve Eden Valley Riesling 2004
Larry Cherubino Porongurup Riesling 2009
Grosset Springvale Riesling 2009
Tyrrell's Single Vineyard Stevens Hunter Semillon 2005
Thomas Braemore Individual Vineyard Hunter Valley Semillon 2009
Pepper Tree Alluvius Reserve Semillon 2009
Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon 2004
Geoff Weaver Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Larry Cherubino Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Vasse Felix Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009
Cullen Mangan Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008
Sticks No. 29 Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2006
Shaw & Smith M3 Vineyard Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2008
Xanadu Reserve Margaret River Chardonnay 2008
Cullen Kevin John Margaret River Chardonnay 2007
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2006
Tahbilk 1927 Vines Marsanne 2000
Yalumba The Virgilius Eden Valley Viognier 2008


REDS OVER $20

Charles Melton Barossa Valley Rose of Virginia 2009
Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Rose 2009
Stoney Rise Pinot Noir 2008
Ashton Hills Piccadilly Valley Pinot Noir 2008
Port Phillip Estate Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2008
Montalto Vineyards Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2008
Bellarmine Pemberton Shiraz 2008
Tyrrell's Single Vineyard Stevens Hunter Shiraz 2007
Trevor Jones Reserve Wild Witch Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006
Dalwhinnie Moonambel Shiraz 2007
Paringa Estate Reserve Special Barrel Selection Mornington Peninsula Shiraz 2007
Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz 2004
Penfolds Grange 2004
Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2008
Henschke Keynton Estate Euphonium 2006
Fraser Gallop Estate Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Hardys Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Cullen Diana Madeline 2007
 

AUSTRALIAN SPARKLING

De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV
Brown Brothers Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier NV
Jansz Tasmania Premium Cuvee NV
Domaine Chandon Brut Rose NV
Grampians Estate Black Sunday Friends Sparkling Shiraz 2006
Yarrabank Late Disgorged 2001
Clover Hill Blanc de Blancs 2005
Kreglinger Vintage Brut Rose 2003


CHAMPAGNE

Lanson Gold Label Vintage Brut 1998
Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV
Moet & Chandon Imperial Rose NV
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV
Bollinger Special Cuvee NV
Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 1999
Henriot Brut Rose NV
Champagne Jacquesson Avize Grand Cru Brut 2000
Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois Billecart 1998
Louis Roederer Cristal Brut 2002
Krug Vintage 1998
Dom Perignon Vintage Rose 1998
 
Whites Under $20 
                                                          
261 wines submitted
36 shortlisted
20 selected
Riesling: four wines, four regions, with many more (unselected) contenders from the Clare Valley proper, the Eden Valley, the whole sweep of the Great Southern and Tasmania.


Bellarmine Pemberton Riesling 2009
95 points, $17.99, Screwcap, 11% alc
A very long distance investment by German residents Dr Willi and Gudrun Schumacher, ending up in the wilds of Pemberton. A spotlessly clean, delicate bouquet of citrus blossom and spice is followed by a beautifully balanced palate in Mosel Kabinett style, the essence of lime juice offset by crisp acidity.
From Pemberton, WA
Drink to 2019 with gazpacho
www.bellarmine.com.au

Wirra Wirra Lost Watch Adelaide Hills Riesling 2009
95 points, $17.99, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
In 1947 Wirra Wirra founder Greg Trott lost the only watch he ever had (a gift from his father) and never bothered to replace it, time being unimportant. Here, a fragrant bouquet leads into an intense palate with lime juice, apple and mineral singing in unison, reaching a crescendo on the finish.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink to 2020 with spiced Asian seafood
www.wirrawirra.com

O'Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling 2009
94 points, $18.50, Screwcap, 12% alc
The Polish Hill River area is only 9 km east of Watervale, but the climate is significantly cooler, the grapes ripening 2-3 weeks later. Dyed in the wool Polish Hill River style, with slate and mineral nuances woven through the lime and apple blossom fruit, the finish authoritative and long.
From Clare Valley,SA
Drink to 2017 with salad nicoise
www.olearywalkerwines.com
 
Heggies Vineyard Eden Valley Riesling 2009
95 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 12% alc
Owned by the Hill Smith family since 1971, Heggies has been one of the most consistent producers of high quality riesling. An expressive bouquet with ripe blossom aromas leads into a palate which gathers pace as it streams to a vital and intense conclusion, lime/citrus flavours sustained by excellent acidity.
From Eden Valley, SA
Drink to 2019 with grilled King George whiting
www.heggiesvineyard.com


Semillon: Peter Lehmann's challenge to one side, the Hunter Valley maintains its stranglehold on semillon without breaking into a sweat in glorious vintages such as 2009.


Scarborough Wine Co Green Label Semillon 2009
93 points, $17.99, Screwcap, 11% alc
A new arrival in the Scarborough range of semillons, offering that extra bit of value for money. Pale straw-green; the promise of the floral, aromatic bouquet is fulfilled by the palate with its juicy mix of lemon juice, herb and mineral flavours. Has impeccable length and balance.
From Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink to 2019 with asparagus with hollandaise sauce
www.scarboroughwine.com.au

Brokenwood Hunter Valley Semillon 2009
95 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 11% alc
Practice makes perfect, and Brokenwood has been at it since 1983. The wine has a delicate yet positive flowery bouquet, hinting at what is to come on the vivid mid-palate, with citrus to the fore, and background touches of stone fruits; the zesty acidity cleanses the finish and guarantees a long life.
From Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink to 2014 with salmon terrine
www.brokenwood.com.au

Mistletoe Home Vineyard Hunter Valley Semillon 2009
95 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 10% alc
Classic winemaking sees hand-harvested grapes whole-bunch pressed, cold-fermented and bottled early, the vineyard doing the hard work. A delicious wine, showing the best features of the striking '09 vintage, the fruit flavours crossing into riesling territory, or even cool climate chardonnay courtesy of lime and grapefruit nuances; long crisp finish.
From Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink to 2020 with Caesar salad
www.mistletoewines.com.au
 

Sauvignon Blanc and blends: no coincidence, perhaps, that the two sauvignon blancs came from Orange and the Adelaide Hills. Even less surprising is the domination of Western Australia in the sauvignon semillon blends. Only Tulloch prevented a clean sweep, and even there, the sauvignon blanc came from Western Australia. These blends are powerful weapons to confront Marlborough with.


Printhie Orange Sauvignon Blanc 2009
94 points, $16.99 Screwcap, 12.5% alc
While a fraction in size of Marlborough, Orange has thrown down the gauntlet. This is another example of the synergy between Orange and sauvignon blanc; while there are abundant passionfruit, lychee and tropical aromas and flavours, the acidity is fresh and cleansing, giving both drive and balance.
From Orange, NSW
Drink to 2011 with vegetable tempura
www.printhiewines.com.au

Nova Vita Firebird Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2008
94 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 11.5% alc
The grapes come from a single block on the Woodlands Ridge Vineyard owned by Mark and Joanne Kozned (of Russian descent). A powerful bouquet running through herb, gooseberry and passionfruit promises much, and the palate duly delivers those flavours on a long finish; is deliciously fresh, with cleansing acidity.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink to 2011 with bouillabaisse
www.novavitawines.com.au

Brown Hill Estate Lakeview Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009
93 points, $16.99, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Owned by the Bailey family, able to pick the eyes out of 22 ha of estate vineyards dating back to 1995. Cold fermentation and bottling within 12 weeks of picking produces an arresting bouquet of passionfruit and - unusually but obviously - pear, the palate incisive and long, drawn out by citrussy acidity.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2012 with poached scallops
www.brownhillestate.com.au

Tulloch Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009
94 points, $15.99, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
The third and so far best release of this cool-fermented, early-bottled style, very lively and well made. Sauvignon blanc from Western Australia introduces some passionfruit, the drive and energy provided by the semillon, with lemony acidity on the finish, the mark of a top vintage.
From Hunter Valley/Western Australia
Drink to 2012 with blue swimmer crab
www.tulloch.com.au

West Cape Howe Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009
93 points, $15.99, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
Hit the headlines in a David and Goliath acquisition of the ex Goundrey winery and vineyards from Constellation. The varieties work as synergistically as ever, the semillon contributing to aroma and flavour, as well as texture and structure; the sauvignon blanc adds touches of tropical and stone fruit.
From Denmark, WA
Drink to 2012 with barbequed marron
www.westcapehowewines.com.au

Wills Domain Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009
94 points, $19.50, Screwcap, 13% alc
Notwithstanding Darren Haunold's paraplegia, he (and wife Michelle) unhesitatingly purchased the then 15-year-old vineyard in 2000, and (with Bruce Dukes as winemaker) immediately produced wonderful wines. This has a very aromatic and expressive bouquet of passionfruit, grapefruit and a touch of herb, the palate providing more of the same, with energy and drive.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2011 with sugar cured tuna
www.willsdomain.com.au


Chardonnay: the five wines come from the regional usual suspects basket, with the qualified exception of the Wagga Wagga component in the Charles Sturt wine. The overriding feature of these chardonnays is minimal oak and maximum cool-grown varietal expression.


Mike Press Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2009
94 points, $10.99, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
The enterprise of industry veteran (over 40 years in the business) Mike Press and wife Judy, offering estate-grown wines at irresistible prices. Elegant, vibrant and supremely fresh, it runs the gamut of grapefruit, green apple, white peach and nectarine flavours with perfectly judged acidity. No oak evident, and none needed.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink to 2013 with sashimi
www.mikepresswines.com.au

Charles Sturt University Chardonnay 2009
93 points, $14.30, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
Made at a new (2002) on-campus commercial winery by a full-time winemaker with significant student assistance during vintage, and some through the year. Pale straw-green; a highly aromatic bouquet of grapefruit, white peach and white flowers leads into a finely-framed, light bodied palate, with a touch of French oak.
From Orange/Wagga Wagga, NSW
Drink to 2012 with seared tuna
www.csu.edu.au/winery

Hoddles Creek Estate Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2008
95 points, $18.99, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
The D'Anna family purchased their Upper Yarra property in 1960, established the vineyard in 1997, the split-level winery in 2003. A delicious chardonnay, exemplifying the Yarra Valley style with its length and finesse; white peach and nectarine fruit flow smoothly across the palate, oak and acidity in perfectly balanced support.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink to 2014 with fettuccini with clams
www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au

De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2008
94 points, $18.99, Screwcap, 13% alc
The is the mid-range in the De Bortoli portfolio, part estate-grown, and part from the Upper Yarra Valley. The oak contribution has been deliberately suppressed in a subtle wine, with very harmonious fruit, oak and acidity; the flavours are ripe without threatening the elegance of the palate, nor obscuring its length.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink to 2016 with grilled John Dory
www.debortoli.com.au

Brookland Valley Verse 1 Margaret River Chardonnay 2008
94 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Verse 1 sits third in line below the reserve and premium varietal series from Brookland Valley, yet provides great drinking, and is right in the mainstream of winery style, with delicious white peach, nectarine and grapefruit aromas and flavours supported by quality French oak; has very good line, length and balance.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2015 with grilled scallops
www.brooklandvalley.com.au


Other whites: little needs be said, other than Moondah Brook neatly emphasises the varietal character of verdelho, while Fox Gordon neatly puts the damper on the over-exuberance of viognier.


Moondah Brook Verdelho 2008
94 points, $17.99, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Curiously, the use of verdelho to make table wine is unique to Australia. Here, fragrant and fine citrus notes on top of fruit salad; elegance and great length to a wine of exceptional varietal expression. Totally delicious and fresh. Gold WA Wine Show '08 and Sydney International Wine Competition '08.
From Swan Valley, WA
Drink to 2013 with fresh seafood
www.moondahbrook.com.au

Fox Gordon Abby Adelaide Hills Viognier 2009
94 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
I am not a lover of viognier, but the three-women Fox Gordon team has got the best out of this notoriously difficult variety, with fresh ginger in amongst the mix of pear, apricot and orange zest; the flavour is achieved without phenolic toughness, the acidity providing a pathway to food matching.
51 words
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink to 2010 with oven baked turkey
www.foxgordon.com.au
 
Under $20 Whites Near misses: Rating Price
2008 Deakin Estate Chardonnay 88 $10
2009 Zilzie Selection 23 Chardonnay 88 $10
2009 McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Sauvignon Blanc 90 $12.99
2008 Serafino Reserve McLaren Vale Chardonnay 91 $15
2009 Watershed Shades Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 92 $16.95
2008 Watershed Margaret River Unwooded Chardonnay 93 $16.95
2004 McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Cellar Release Semillon 92 $17.99
2009 Bremerton Langhorne Creek Sauvignon Blanc 92 $18
2008 Cooralook Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 93 $18
2008 Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Riesling 96 $18
2008 Granite Hills Knight Macedon Ranges Riesling 95 $20
2007 Kennedy & Wilson Quarry Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay 94 $20


Reds Under $20
                                                            
268 wines submitted
41 shortlisted
20 selected

Rose: gone are the days when I defiantly chose one rose albeit knowing that few would choose to taste it. These wines are a very long way from the European roses made by blending white and red wines, a practice currently causing much angst.


Hardys Chronicle No. 1 Twice Lost Shiraz Cabernet Rose 2009
94 points, $16.99, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
A convoluted tale of cattle twice lost under Thomas Hardy's care in 1850, then two cowbells to save the day - and his job. Vivid light crimson; the wine has a delicious burst of red cherry and raspberry on the very well balanced palate, which has real length. High quality rose.
From McLaren Vale, SA
Drink to 2010 with dumpling soup
www.hardys.com.au

Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley McLaren Vale Grenache Rose 2009
94 points, $18.50, Screwcap, 13% alc
The Wirra Wirra back label stories are the best in the business. Mrs Wigley (b 1977 d 1991) had a charmed life at Wirra Wirra and died a happy cat. Bright colour; a highly perfumed bouquet is followed by a wonderfully lively palate of raspberry and redcurrant, the finish bright and clear.
From McLaren Vale (80%), Fleurieu (20%), SA
Drink to 2010 with sang choi bau
www.wirrawirra.com

Brookland Valley Verse 1 Margaret River Rose 2008
94 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
Merlot (95%) and Cabernet Franc (5%) were crushed, then lightly pressed; a rose made from the ground up. Light but bright crimson-pink; the palate literally dances with juicy berry fruit flavours, and a long, lingering finish. Still as fresh as a daisy, but to be drunk this coming summer.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2010 with tapas
www.brooklandvalley.com.au


Pinot Noir: it was totally unexpected that only one pinot would withstand the tsunami of shiraz and shiraz blends. There were some near misses listed below/opposite.


De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2008
94 points, $18.99, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
The grapes are handpicked and destemmed, preserving whole berries; some whole bunches are included, and the must is cold-soaked pre-fermentation. A serious pinot at this price, aromatic and spicy, with excellent texture and structure; the flavours halfway between plum and cherry, with a savoury finish, and subtle oak.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink to 2015 with seared Tasmanian salmon
www.debortoli.com.au


Shiraz: six shirazs (including the shiraz viognier) from six regions with no forethought or planning of that outcome. It is a testament to the flexibility of shiraz, notably its ability to provide lovely wines from cool and warm regions alike.


Mike Press Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2008
94 points, $13.99, Screwcap, 14.9% alc
It was once accepted that only the warmest parts of the Adelaide Hills could adequately ripen shiraz. Now, with cool climate shiraz style in vogue, the dynamics are very different. Vivid crimson; the wine exudes black cherry, blackberry, licorice and spice through every pore; just enough tannins to underwrite development.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink to 2015 with wild mushroom ravioli
www.mikepresswines.com.au

Kirrihill Clare Valley Shiraz 2008
94 points, $14.99, Screwcap, 15% alc
A substantial, multi-faceted business, with an 8000-tonne winery making a large range of wines under its own brand, and for others. Very good colour; opens with rich dark fruit aromas, then abundant plum and blackberry fruit on the medium- to full-bodied palate supported by ripe tannins and a modicum of French oak.
From Clare Valley, SA
Drink to 2023 with beef spare ribs
www.kirrihillwines.com.au

Seville Estate The Barber Yarra Valley Shiraz 2008
93 points, $18.99, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
The Barber, of course, is of Seville (with apologies to Rossini). It is also the third level of the Seville Estate range, here aided by a good vintage. Bright colour; a live-wire cool climate shiraz, with spice, pepper and licorice dancing around the juicy black cherry fruit, acidity darting across the palate.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink to 2018 with stir-fried Asian beef
www.sevilleestate.com.au

Fox Gordon Eight Uncles Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006
94 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
A part-time venture of Jane Gordon, Rachel Atkins (nee Fox) and Natasha Mooney, using grapes from dry-grown vineyards farmed under biodiversity principles. Good colour; has excellent texture, the bright plum and blackberry fruit supported by a fine skein of savoury tannins. Praise be to a wine not driven by alcohol.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink to 2014 with spicy green chicken curry
www.foxgordon.com.au

Possums Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006
95 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
From the 60 ha vineyards of distinguished viticultural researcher Dr John Possingham and partner Carol Summers. A harmonious and complex array of aromas and flavours are at the elegant end of the McLaren Vale spectrum, and is all the better for that; it has deceptive length, and is wonderfully vibrant and juicy.
From McLaren Vale, SA
Drink to 2019 with braised rabbit
www.possumswines.com.au

Mistletoe Hilltops Shiraz Viognier 2008
95 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 14% alc
While Mistletoe is firmly anchored in the Hunter Valley, its young gun winemaker Nick Paterson has not hesitated to look further afield for different styles. Lively and juicy, the red fruit flavours almost tingling, so fresh are they; the finish, too, leaves the mouth echoing the messages of the bouquet and mid-palate.
From Hilltops, NSW
Drink to 2014 with designer pizza
www.mistletoewines.com


Grenache blends: just as there was no surprise the Hunter Valley dominating semillon, it is entirely expected that McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley would dominate this class. These Rhone style blends engage the heart more than the mind, and so it should be.
 

Spinifex Cigale Barossa Valley Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz 2007
94 points, $18.99, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Winemaker-owners Pete Schell and Magali Gely hit the ground running with Spinifex, and haven't looked back - other, that is, to their inspiration from the south of France. Brilliantly clear red hue; an elegant and supple wine with highly expressive spicy red fruit flavours lengthened by excellent acidity. 63/21/16% blend.
From Barossa, SA
Drink to 2013 with beef provencale
www.spinifexwines.com.au

Geoff Merrill McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2005
94 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
A slow-developing wine with the authority which McLaren Vale regularly gives good examples of this style, and which the Barossa Valley seldom does; offers a basket of red fruits in a supple but focused palate; spicy/savoury components to the fore, and impressive length. 58/32/10% blend.
From McLaren Vale, SA
Drink to 2015 with smoked beef
www.geoffmerrillwines.com

Seppeltsfield Glenpara GSM Barossa Clare Valley Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2006
94 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 15% alc
The Glenpara name dates back to the 1850s, and was acquired by Seppeltsfield later in the 19th century. Has good balance, weight (medium-bodied) and structure, but, above all, a synergistic union between the regional and varietal components; the black and red fruit flavours have outstanding mouthfeel, aided by savoury tannins.
From Barossa Valley/Clare Valley, SA
Drink to 2021 with kangaroo fillet
www.seppelt.com.au


Cabernet blends/other varieties: once again the varietal/regional link runs true to form, with three of the four wines from the Margaret River, the other from nearby regions. The key here is the superior performance of merlot in the cooler parts of Western Australia.


Watershed Shades Cabernet Franc 2007
92 points, $16.95, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Watershed releases its wines in three levels: Awakening, Senses and Shades, with a pattern of over-delivering at all three price points. Very good colour; WA achieves more with this variety than do the eastern states. It has abundant red fruits and some cedar, very good length, and a fine tannin structure.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2013 with pork belly
www.watershedwines.com.au

Flying Fish Cove Cuttlefish Classic Margaret River Red 2006
92 points, $14.50, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Flying Fish Cove is a mini-cooperative, with 20 grapegrower shareholders financing the erection of the winery prior to the 2001 vintage. A delicious and fragrant sunburst of red fruits, raspberry, plum, cherry and redcurrant; uncompromisingly light-bodied, but has good length and fine tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink now with seared lamb cutlets
www.flyingfishcove.com

West Cape Howe Cabernet Merlot 2007
92 points, $15.99, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
It is wines such as this which gave West Cape Howe the springboard for the March '09 Goundrey acquisition. Powerful medium- to full-bodied wine with an abundance of blackcurrant and cassis fruit backed by ripe tannins. A long life ahead, and altogether distinguished wine at this price. Cabernet Sauvignon (51%)/Merlot (49%)
From Great Southern, Geographe, Blackwood Valley, WA
Drink to 2022 with kangaroo fillet
www.westcapehowewines.com.au

Brookland Valley Verse 1 Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2007
94 points, $19.99, Screwcap, 13.9% alc
Brookland Valley was the Winery of the Year in my 2009 Australian Wine Companion, thanks partly to Verse 1. Bright red-purple; while only medium-bodied, has the strong structure of good Margaret River Bordeaux blends, with an array of black and red berry fruits; good French oak and tannin support. Gold medal National Wine Show '08.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2015 with barbequed lamb
www.brooklandvalley.com.au


Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Shiraz: the tough-skinned cabernet means it can be grown and ripened almost everywhere, but it does best in cool regions, Coonawarra to the fore. It comes as no surprise, however, to find the Adelaide Hills and Eden Valley putting their hands up.
 

Majella The Musician Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008
94 points, $16.99, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
A Cabernet (70%)/Shiraz (30%) blend which always offers extraordinary value for money, ready to drink any time over the next five years. Good hue; it is a fruit-driven wine with an abundance of blackcurrant and blackberry flavours, supported by ripe tannins which give excellent balance; oak barely enters the equation.
From Coonawarra, SA
Drink to 2015 with marinated beef
www.majellawines.com.au

Mike Press Adelaide Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
94 points, $13.99, Screwcap, 14.9% alc
Curiously cabernet sauvignon has been on the Adelaide Hills menu for as long as shiraz, even though it theoretically required more warmth. Deep crimson-red; a luscious cabernet crammed to the gills with roughly equal blackcurrant and cassis fruit; despite all this flavour, is not the least extractive, the tannins fine.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink to 2018 with lamb loin
www.mikepresswines.com.au

Eden Springs High Eden Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
94 points, $19.90, Screwcap, 14% alc
Sourced from an estate-owned, 32-year-old single vineyard and handpicked, before being entrusted to skilled contract winemaking by Jo Irvine. Good colour; an exceptional vintage resulted in a refined and pure cabernet, with perfectly ripened fruit providing intense blackcurrant flavours, the tannin structure impeccable.
From Eden Valley, SA
Drink to 2021 with lamb backstrap
www.edensprings.com.au
Under $20 Reds Near misses: Rating Price
2008 De Bortoli Sacred Hill Cabernet Merlot 88 $7.49
2008 Casella yellow tail Shiraz 87 $9.99
2007 Wombat Lodge Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot 90 $9.99
2008 McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 91 $12.99
2009 Angove Family Winemakers Nine Vines Rose 92 $14.99
2007 Millbrook Barking Owl Shiraz Viognier 93 $17.95
2008 McPherson Basilisk Shiraz Mourvedre 93 $17.99
2006 Barossa Valley Estates E Bass Shiraz 94 $18.99
2008 Sandalford Margaret River Shiraz 93 $18.99


Whites Over $20  

359 wines submitted 
44 shortlisted
20 selected


Riesling: An impossibly congested – and contested — field, the five wines spread across Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria, the two from Western Australia both from Porongorup. Often (incorrectly) called The Porongurups, it is one of the five subregions of the Great Southern, producing wines of great finesse which grow in bottle over many years. Talking of which, it is arguable the Pewsey Vale Contours is the best value special of this group, for at least part of the cellaring has been done for you.


Castle Rock Estate Riesling 2008
96 points, $21, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
Family member and winemaker Rob Diletti has gained skill and experience as the estate vineyard has aged; it’s a potent combination. Still gloriously youthful, citrus and mineral interwoven, edging slowly but surely to the day five years out when it will start to display everything it has to offer; it will be magnificent.
From Porongurup
Drink to 2023 with tuna sashimi
www.castlerockestate.com.au

Delatite Riesling 2008
96 points, $23, Screwcap, 13% alc
It was a toss-up between this wine and the late harvest Sylvia Riesling, both wines reflecting the very cool, high altitude vineyard. Light bright straw-green; lime and lemon blossom aromas lead into a brilliantly fresh palate, where green apple joins the lime of the bouquet; perfectly balanced acidity draws out the long finish.
From Upper Goulburn
Drink to 2020 with blue swimmer crab
www.delatitewinery.com.au

Pewsey Vale The Contours Museum Reserve Eden Valley Riesling 2004
96 points, $27.95, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
The grapes come from the oldest vines on the vineyard, planted in contoured rows in 1962. Bright straw-green; intense lime and apple aromas showing the first signs of developing some toasty notes, the palate brilliantly fresh, still with a hint of CO2; citrus, spice and minerally acidity run through the lingering finish.
From Eden Valley
Drink to 2019 with cold smoked salmon
www.pewseyvale.com

Larry Cherubino Porongurup Riesling 2009
97 points, $35, Screwcap, 12.2% alc
The analysis of this wine is extraordinary: a pH of 2.98 and 9 gm/l of acidity, and bone-dry. An exercise in restraint on the bouquet, which hides the quite remarkable intensity and drive of the palate, with lime and lemon juice on the mid-palate framed by lingering minerally acidity. Gold-plated 20-year development potential.
From Western Australia
Drink to 2030 with vegetable terrine
www.larrycherubino.com

Grosset Springvale Riesling 2009
96 points, $36, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
Jeffrey Grosset is known around the globe as a past master when it comes to Riesling. That this is the 29th vintage comes as no surprise. Fragrant lime, herb and spice aromas lead into an incisive and tightly focused palate, with delicious lime and green apple fruit coursing through to the finish.
From Clare Valley
Drink to 2020 with steamed mussels
www.grosset.com.au


Semillon: this group neatly shows the two faces of semillon: Peppertree Alluvius and Thomas Braemore barely off the vine, the Tyrrell’s Stevens and Peter Lehman Margaret 4-5 years down the track, and starting to flower in a manner unique to semillon. Drink the older vintages, and cellar the ‘09s.


Tyrrell’s Single Vineyard Stevens Hunter Semillon 2005
97 points, $25, Screwcap, 11.4% alc
The grapes come from Neil Stevens’ Glenoak Vineyard, the vines planted between 1911 and 1965. Small wonder the wine has collected so many trophies and gold medals. Gloriously delineated, the finesse of the wine is extraordinary, as is its youth and length. Descriptors are, in fact, redundant; just accept its greatness.
From Lower Hunter Valley
Drink to 2030 with trout mousse
www.tyrrells.com.au

Thomas Braemore Individual Vineyard Hunter Valley Semillon 2009
95 points, $27, Screwcap, 11.5% alc
From the Braemore Vineyard on the sandy alluvial flats, so suited to semillon. The bouquet is multi-faceted, with more fruit than normal in a young semillon; the palate verged on the astonishing when six months old, with a panoply of citrus fruit, and the supple mouthfeel which normally doesn’t develop until semillon is five years old.
From Lower Hunter Valley
Drink to 2018 with crab cakes
www.thomaswines.com.au

Pepper Tree Alluvius Reserve Semillon 2009
96 points, $30, Screwcap, 10.5% alc
This wine, like the Thomas Braemore, comes from the Braemore Vineyard planted in the late 1960s by Ken Bray. Bright straw-green, it has a classic bouquet in the main stream of high quality, young semillon. The palate has tremendous thrust, drive and exceptional length, minerally acidity running alongside mouth-tingling, lemony fruit.
From Lower Hunter Valley
Drink to 2020 with lemon-marinated fish
www.peppertreewines.com.au

Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon 2004
96 points, $30, Screwcap, 11.4% alc
This wine is made using identical techniques to those employed in the Hunter Valley. The bouquet is layered with straw, lemon, mineral and a touch of marzipan; fresh and lively, the texture is refreshing, and the drive on the back-palate long, toasty and fresh, all rolled into one complete package.
From Barossa Valley
Drink to 2016 with grilled eggplant
www.peterlehmannwines.com


Sauvignon Blanc and blends: Geoff Weaver’s sauvignon from the Lenswood subregion of the Adelaide Hills stood in the way of a clean sweep by Western Australia, with the Margaret River predictably to the fore. The Cullen Mangan Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is a prime example of vinous needlepoint embroidery.


Geoff Weaver Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc 2009
96 points, $24, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Estate-grown, handpicked and bunch-selected, the fastidious winemaking of Geoff Weaver puts the wine on another plane from the vast majority of ’09 sauvignon blancs from the eastern states; the gooseberry and kiwifruit flavours are intense and penetrating, the palate very long and the dry, almost savoury, aftertaste lingers long.
From Adelaide Hills
Drink 2014 with bouillabaisse
www.geoffweaver.com.au

Larry Cherubino Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc 2009
96 points, $35, Screwcap, 12.1% alc
Another remarkable wine from Larry Cherubino, fermented in 100% new French oak, but removed and bottled within two months of vintage. Pale green-straw; citrus and herb, rather than tropical, aromas precede a blaze of flavour on the highly charged, intense, and long palate. The barrel fermentation is not the least obvious.
From Western Australia
Drink to 2013 with grilled scampi
www.larrycherubino.com

Vasse Felix Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009
95 points, $25, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
Vasse Felix was the first winery to be established in Margaret River (in 1963) and is now owned by the Holmes a Court family. Bright light green-straw; a beautifully focused and balanced blend, with tropical fruit offset by intense citrus acidity; the small proportion of barrel ferment in French oak is almost invisible.
From Margaret River
Drink to 2012 with Margaret River abalone
www.vassefelix.com.au

Cullen Mangan Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008
96 points, $35, Screwcap, 11.5% alc
A 70/30 blend of Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon with a magical combination of delicacy on the bouquet, and explosive intensity on the racing palate; 28% barrel ferment has been absorbed by the fruit. What gives this wine its special quality is the thrust and drive of the citrussy acidity spearing through the finish and aftertaste.
From Margaret River
Drink to 2015 with tempura oysters
www.cullenwines.com.au


Chardonnay: few would dispute that the Margaret River, Adelaide Hills and Yarra Valley are the three most exciting regions for high quality chardonnay. These are wonderful wines; in each case, the winemaker’s philosophy is to highlight the terroir yet invest the wine with complex flavour, texture and structure. This difficult balancing act can only be achieved with grapes of the highest quality.


Sticks No. 29 Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2006
96 points, $30, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
From an estate-grown, single block planted in 1983, given Rolls Royce treatment in the winery. Bright yellow-green; a seriously good wine, with delicious grapefruit and nectarine at its heart, and all the length one expects from the best Yarra Valley chardonnays; the oak is at once important and unimportant, the finish taut and fresh.
From Yarra Valley
Drink to 2016 with grilled spatchcock
www.sticks.com.au

Shaw & Smith M3 Vineyard Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2008
96 points, $36, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
The estate-grown grapes are whole-bunch pressed, the wine wild fermented. Shaw & Smith have worked tirelessly to hone the style to perfection, its path through the mouth laser-guided in its precision, unbundling all the components of fruit and oak pointless except to say the finish is breathtakingly long and clear.
From Adelaide Hills
Drink to 2018 with steamed mussels
www.shawandsmith.com

Xanadu Reserve Margaret River Chardonnay 2008
97 points, $70, Screwcap, 14% alc
The wine is made from the oldest vines on the estate, planted in the 1970s. Its floral, fragrant citrus blossom aromas are intense, a harbinger of the almost surreal purity of the wine in the mouth. Where the 100% barrel ferment and the alcohol went I have no idea, but this wine has a near-indefinite life.
From Margaret River
Drink to 2028 with lobster
www.xanaduwines.com

Cullen Kevin John Margaret River Chardonnay 2007
97 points, $70, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
In accordance with biodynamic practice, the grapes were handpicked around a full moon on fruit days. It is one of the best Cullen chardonnays for a long time; there is exceptional focus and intensity to the palate with its mix of nectarine, white peach and grapefruit; 100% wild yeast barrel ferment has been subsumed by the fruit.
From Margaret River
Drink to 2017 with cold smoked salmon
www.cullenwines.com.au

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2006
97 points, $96, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
From one of the coolest growing seasons in Margaret River. A complex array of nectarine, grapefruit and spice, particularly cinnamon, is offered on the bouquet; the palate exhibits understated power, with grilled nuts supporting the very generous, yet refined, level of stone fruit and oak; the finish is staggeringly long, fine and complex.
From Margaret River
Drink to 2021 with milk fed veal
www.leeuwinestate.com.au


Other whites: quite simply, the best marsanne in the country, and the best viognier. The decision by Tahbilk to separately bottle the wine from the block planted in 1927 can only be applauded, the amount of effort Yalumba has put into creating The Virgilius likewise.


Tahbilk 1927 Vines Marsanne 2000
96 points, $45.50, Cork, 11% alc
Produced from a single block of vines planted in 1927, making them some of the oldest in the world; only 360 cases produced. Still pale straw-green, it is a wine of exceptional vibrancy, as much about citrus as the more common honeysuckle; fantastic drive through to the lingering finish.
From Nagambie Lakes
Drink to 2020 with salmon risotto
www.tahbilk.com.au

Yalumba The Virgilius Eden Valley Viognier 2008
96 points, $49.95, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
The Virgilius outguns every other viognier in Australia. The handpicked grapes are whole-bunch pressed direct to barrel (pre-used) and lees-stirred for 11 months. The most remarkable feature is its depth of white peach and apricot flavour, achieved without the phenolics which can so easily destroy the finish of this variety.
From Barossa Valley
Drink to 2011 with free range chicken
www.yalumba.com
 
Over $20 Whites near misses: Rating Price
2009 Ferngrove Cossack Frankland River Riesling 95 $22.99
2009 Knappstein 8:8:18 Riesling 96 $22.95
2009 McLeish Hunter Valley Semillon 96 $23.00
2008 Rosily Margaret River Chardonnay 95 $23.00
2009 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 95 $30.00
2009 Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard Riesling 96 $31.99
2009 Grosset Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 95 $32.00
2008 Hay Shed Hill Block 6 Margaret River Chardonnay 96 $35.00
2006 Barwang 842 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 96 $35.00
2007 Voyager Margaret River Chardonnay 96 $42.00
2007 Petaluma Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 96 $45.00
2003 Crawford River Reserve Riesling 95 $60.00


Reds Over $20    
 
618 wines submitted
90 shortlisted
20 selected
Rose: surprise, surprise; the two roses which occupied top spots during the dark ages when no-one wanted to drink rose emerge on top. Both are dry, of course, and both are very good.


Charles Melton Barossa Valley Rose of Virginia 2009
96 points, $22.50, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
A slightly higher proportion of grenache (60%) than in previous vintages was, as usual, co-fermented with cabernet and shiraz. Vivid fuchsia in colour, it has fragrant rose petal/raspberry/spice aromas, then a vibrant, positively flavoured palate in a continuing red fruit spectrum. It has good length and a dry, almost savoury, finish.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink to 2010 with smoked chicken salad
www.charlesmeltonwines.com.au

Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Rose 2009
96 points, $23, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
A blend of Grenache (60%)/Shiraz (19%)/Cabernet Sauvignon (16%)/Dolcetto (5%), largely sourced from a single, dedicated vineyard. Bright fuchsia; the bouquet has fragrant small red fruits plus a touch of spice; the palate with structure and length way above average, the finish deliciously dry, spice coming again on the aftertaste.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink to 2010 with antipasto
www.turkeyflat.com.au


Pinot Noir: pinot makers in the Yarra Valley, Geelong, Gippsland and Macedon will no doubt feel very unhappy, but at least I cannot be accused of bias. Moreover, Tasmania and the Mornington Peninsula have enjoyed far better vintage conditions than the Yarra Valley et al over the past three or four years. If that were not enough, this was another bitterly contested class.


Stoney Rise Pinot Noir 2008
96 points, $29, Screwcap, 14% alc
Winemaker Joe Holyman calls this a fruit-driven style for early consumption. However, the sheer power of the ’08 vintage took this wine into another league. Deep crimson-purple; has the richness of depth which only Tasmania can produce without losing varietal character; black cherry and plum fruit drives the wine, cleansing acidity on the long finish.
From Northern Tasmania
Drink to 2018 with venison
www.stoneyrise.com

Ashton Hills Piccadilly Valley Pinot Noir 2008
96 points, $33, Screwcap, 14% alc
Owner/winemaker Stephen George was one of the pioneers of pinot noir in the Adelaide Hills. It shows some colour development; as always, has an extremely expressive and complex bouquet with forest undergrowth and spicy red fruits; the palate is a precise replay of the bouquet, with great length and immaculate balance.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink to 2016 with wild mushroom risotto

Port Phillip Estate Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2008
96 points, $37, Diam, 14% alc
The November 15 opening of the multi-million dollar winery, restaurant and cellar door at Port Phillip Estate was a landmark day. Happily, the wines are of commensurately high quality. Rich plum and cherry fruit on the bouquet appears first on the palate, soon followed by spicy, savoury tannins which give length and authority.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink to 2019 with roast squab
www.portphillip.net

Montalto Vineyards Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2008
96 points, $45, Screwcap, 14% alc
This Pinot Trophy winner at the Winewise competition ’09 is an exceptional wine, combining power with finesse; has great balance, line and length, its display of black cherry fruit making the tannins and oak all but irrelevant now; their day to come when the burst of primary fruit diminishes.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink to 2018 with Chinese roast duck
www.montalto.com.au


Shiraz and Shiraz Viognier: given that there were 271 competing for a place in this group, it is not surprising that every state (other than Tasmania) had at least one wine, and that seven regions were represented. Just as in the under $20 bracket, the wines come from climates ranging from cool, to moderately warm, and to very warm, yet all are beautifully balanced and very complete wines.


Bellarmine Pemberton Shiraz 2008
96 points, $22, Screwcap, 15% alc
This is the third release of this wine, which has already established a formidable track record. Deeply coloured; intensely fragrant black cherry, plum, licorice and spice aromas are precisely repeated on the rich and supple medium- to full-bodied palate; the tannins are round and ripe, oak a background whisper.
From Pemberton, WA
Drink to 2018 with rare roast beef
www.bellarmine.com.au

Tyrrell’s Single Vineyard Stevens Hunter Shiraz 2007
96 points, $35, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Sourced from the Stevens’ family Old Hillside Vineyard, some of the vines planted in 1867, the oldest in the Hunter. Bright colour; the bouquet has black and red cherry fruit and French oak; the supple texture of the medium-bodied palate is outstanding, allowing the vibrant and fresh fruit full play; great balance and length.
From Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink to 2027 with roast baby kid
www.tyrrells.com.au

Trevor Jones Reserve Wild Witch Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006
97 points, $60, Cork, 14.7% alc
Takes its name from the eponymous vineyard nestled in the hills above Lyndoch, and has always been a flamboyant style. This is a vibrantly fragrant wine exuding spicy black fruits on the bouquet, following through on the intense and silky medium- to full-bodied palate, with outstanding oak and tannins; tremendous length.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink to 2026 with peppered steak fillet
www.kellermeister.com.au

Dalwhinnie Moonambel Shiraz 2007
97 points, $65, ProCork, 13.5% alc
The 28th vintage of this wine, which owner/winemaker David Jones believes to be the best to date, and I won’t argue about that. Brilliant crimson colour; a marvelous combination of elegance and intensity, the rippling red and black fruit flavours supported by silky tannins and oak; extreme length and great balance.
From Pyrenees, Vic
Drink to 2020 with braised oxtail
www.dalwhinnie.com.au

Paringa Estate Reserve Special Barrel Selection Mornington Peninsula Shiraz 2007
96 points, $80, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
The crème de la crème of Paringa’s estate grown Shiraz, made by owner/winemaker Lindsay McCall. Strong crimson-purple; a particularly elegant yet equally intense shiraz with a spray of spices, pepper, plum and red cherry fruit on the bouquet and fore-palate, then fine-grained savoury tannins on the finish; oak balanced and integrated.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink to 2020 with wagyu beef
www.paringaestate.com.au

Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz 2004
97 points, $160, Cork, 14.3% alc
This is one of the very rare old shiraz blocks without any younger vines planted in the gaps left by dead vines. While only medium-bodied, the wine has gloriously supple texture and structure directed to presenting pure red and black fruit shiraz flavours in the best possible light.
From Nagambie Lakes, Vic
Drink to 2024 with beef casserole
www.tahbilk.com.au

Penfolds Grange 2004
98 points, $650, Cork, 14.3% alc
Quite simply, one of the greatest Granges. It has an amazing depth to the bouquet, oak and black fruits already seamlessly woven; the palate has absolutely perfect proportions to the river of flavours running through blackberry, Satsuma plum, licorice and spice; the tannins are quite active, but totally balanced and ripe.
From Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Magill, SA
Drink to 2054 with rare rump steak
www.penfolds.com.au

Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2008
97 points, $90, Screwcap, 14% alc
Vigneron Tim Kirk was the first to systematically co-ferment shiraz and viognier, setting the quality benchmark for all others to aspire to. A perfumed and highly fragrant bouquet offers lifted red fruits, spices and touches of cedar; the intense yet superfine palate is marked by natural acidity, exemplary tannins and quality oak.
From Canberra District, NSW
Drink to 2025 with Irish stew
www.clonakilla.com.au

Henschke Keynton Estate Euphonium 2006
95 points, $47, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
This is a blend of Shiraz (56%)/Cabernet Sauvignon (27%)/Cabernet Franc (9%)/Merlot (8%) which spent 18 months in 30% new French and American hogsheads for 18 months. Opens with a very fragrant bouquet, then a powerful and long palate with layers of black fruits garnished with spices and licorice; then a lingering finish.
From Barossa Valley/Eden Valley, SA
Drink to 2021 with ox kidney
www.henschke.com.au


Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Blends: three wines from Margaret River and two from Coonawarra do no more than state the obvious. This is a fabulous group of wines, the cheapest (Fraser Gallop) having recently defeated the might of Bordeaux, the Napa Valley, elsewhere in Australia, and a number of other countries as the best cabernet in the Decanter World Wine Awards.


Fraser Gallop Estate Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
96 points, $30, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Prior gold medals melted into insignificance when this wine won the International Cabernet Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards ‘08. Its quality shows from the first whiff of the bouquet through to the long finish; the medium- to full-bodied palate has a tapestry of flavours from the base of Cabernet (88%), Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2022 with butterfly leg of lamb
www.frasergallopestate.com.au

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
96 points, $31.99, Screwcap, 14% alc
This wine has always been a bargain, and nothing has changed. The vintage was very small (frost), making the balance of the wine all the more remarkable. Excellent crimson-purple, it has richly scented cassis and blackcurrant fruit with cedar notes on the bouquet, then a medium- to full-bodied palate with remarkable power and energy.
From Coonawarra, SA
Drink to 2032 with game pie
www.wynns.com.au

Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
97 points, $90, ProCork, 15% alc
Pete Bissell is able to draw out the finest expression of Coonawarra cabernet, with depth, width and great length to its panoply of black fruit aromas and flavours; new French oak and persistent, fine-grained tannins provide a perfect framework for a wine destined to live for decades. Sublime power and grace.
From Coonawarra, SA
Drink to 2025 with Moroccan lamb
www.balnaves.com.au

Hardys Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
97 points, $107, Cork, 14% alc
The Thomas Hardy label is accorded to the best Cabernet Sauvignon made in the vintage, regardless of its geographic origin. The wine has fulfilled all its potential since the National Wine Show ‘06, when it won multiple trophies. Beautiful cassis and blackcurrant varietal fruit expression runs through the palate to its vibrant, surging finish.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2024 with parmigiana
www.hardys.com.au

Cullen Diana Madeline 2007
97 points, $105, Screwcap, 14% alc
One might be sceptical about biodynamics, but not about this glorious wine, an emphatic bounce back to top form; indeed, this is as close to perfection as one can imagine in terms of structure, texture and its complex fruit flavours. Great now, greater still in another 10 years, and who knows how long thereafter.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink to 2032 with roast saltbush lamb
www.cullenwines.com.au
 
Over $20 Reds near misses:

These are 20 wines which could swap places with those selected, or equally well with the other 70 on the shortlist: choosing this 20 was as difficult as deciding which 20 to include in the Top 100. If the points seem extravagant, remember there were another 500 red wines from five-star wineries in this group.
Over $20 Reds near misses: Rating Price
2008 Gemtree Uncut McLaren Vale Shiraz 95 $22
2007 Sons of Eden Kennedy Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 96 $22
2008 Flametree Frankland River Shiraz 95 $25
2007 Castle Rock Estate Shiraz 96 $27
2008 Head The Blonde Barossa Valley Shiraz Viognier 96 $30
2007 Pepper Tree Three Gravels Reserve Wrattonbully Shiraz Viognier 96 $31
2007 Domaine Chandon Heathcote Shiraz 96 $32
2007 Stella Bella Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 96 $32
2006 Teusner Avatar 96 $32
2008 De Bortoli Estate Grown Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 95 $38
2007 Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 96 $38
2008 Romney Park Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 96 $39
2005 Evans & Tate The Reserve Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 96 $40
2004 Peter Lehmann Mentor 96 $40
2004 Murdock Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 96 $48
2007 Yabby Lake Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 96 $58
2007 Greenstone Heathcote Sangiovese 96 $65
2007 Hewitson Old Garden Barossa Valley Mourvedre 96 $70
2006 Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz 97 $100
2007 Best’s Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz 97 $150


Australian Sparkling  
 
76 wines submitted
31 shortlisted
8 selected
The obvious question is how do the points for these wines relate to those for the Champagnes. The simple answer is, they don’t. They do, however, relate to the white and red table wines, as all come from Australia. This apart, the popularity of rose in Australia matches that of Champagne.


De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV
89 points, $14.90, Cork, 11.5% alc
In typically De Bortoli fashion, over-delivers at its price point; it is a multi-vintage with components ageing on yeast lees in bottle for up to seven years, and a small portion is taken through malolactic fermentation. Good mousse, and salmon pink colour; obvious care in selection of base wine, most from the Yarra; the strawberry fruit notes are, of course, pinot-derived, backed up by citrussy acidity.
www.debortoli.com.au

Brown Brothers Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier NV
94 points, $22.90, Cork, 12.5% alc
This is a complex varietal and subregional blend, the common factors being whole bunch pressing of hand-picked fruit, and 100% malolactic fermentation before the ultimate base wine blend was assembled. Bright green-gold; a seriously good wine at this price, it has a complex web of brioche and toast around delicate but persistent citrus and stone fruit, flavours; excellent acidity and dosage.
www.brownbrothers.com.au

Jansz Tasmania Premium Cuvee NV
94 points, $24.95, Cork, 12.5% alc
A blend of several vintages of individual batches from vineyard sites specifically designated to growing grapes for sparkling wine for this sparkling-wine-only producer. The Cuvee is chardonnay-dominant, backed up with pinot noir. Full yellow-gold, with some cashew aromas, followed by an intense mix of stone fruit, citrus and strawberries set in a creamy mid-palate, the citrus-toned finish clean and fresh.
www.jansztas.com

Domaine Chandon Brut Rose NV
94 points, $29, Cork, 12.5% alc
Bottle-fermented, the wine is sourced from multiple regions including estate vineyards in the Yarra Valley and Strathbogie Ranges. Pale salmon-pink, it is a delicious rose, constructed from pinot noir and chardonnay, with a small amount of pinot noir red wine adding a distinct strawberry influence; the length, balance and finish are particularly good. A sparkler to be drunk with gusto.
www.chandon.com.au

Grampians Estate Black Sunday Friends Sparkling Shiraz 2006
94 points, $35, Crown Seal, 14.6% alc
When the Guthrie’s vineyard was devastated by the 2006 bushfires, eight local and Victorian regional wineries donated shiraz which went to a table wine and this excellent sparkling shiraz. An echo of the great Seppelt sparkling shirazs of the ‘40s and ‘50s; this wine has absolutely wonderful sweet shiraz fruit – not sugar sweetness – on the finish, and will develop for up to 20 years if well cellared.
www.grampiansestate.com.au

Yarrabank Late Disgorged 2001
95 points, $45, Cork, 12.5% alc
Almost eight years on lees has transformed the wine, and allowed zero dosage on disgorgement. The complex blend of chardonnay and pinot noir comes predominantly from the Upper Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. Some colour development, its mousse is fine and persistent; the palate has extreme length, with fruit notes and brioche intermingling on an impressive finish.
www.yering.com

Clover Hill Blanc de Blancs 2005
95 points, $55, Cork, 13% alc
Clover Hill was established by Taltarni in 1986, with the sole purpose of making premium sparkling wine; the initial plantings were 12 of chardonnay, 6.5 ha of Pinot Noir and 1.5 ha of pinot meunier. Bright yellow-green, the bouquet is fresh and vibrant, the palate intense and long, with exceedingly crisp and zesty citrus flavours, then a dry, well-balanced finish.
www.taltarni.com.au

Kreglinger Vintage Brut Rose 2003
95 points, $65, Cork, 12.5% alc
A new release from Kreglinger, the product of years of evaluation and trials; a single site was chosen for the purity of pinot flavours it produced, and which are very evident in the wine. Salmon pink — a Tibetan sunset, says the back label – which displays very clear strawberry notes ex the 100% pinot noir base; has great balance and very good length; bell-clear finish and aftertaste.
www.pipersbrook.com
 
Aus Sparkling Near misses: Rating Price
NV Jansz Tasmania Premium Cuvee 94 $24.95
2006 Peter Lehmann Chardonnay Pinot Noir 91 $25.00
NV Pipers Brook Vineyard Ninth Island
Chardonnay Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier 92 $27.00
2006 Yarra Burn Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier 91 $27.50
2006 Stonier Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir Chardonnay 93 $28.00
NV Petaluma Croser Non Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay 94 $28.99
NV Pirie Estate Sparkling 94 $32.00
2005 Willow Creek Vineyard Tulum Vineyard
Mornington Peninsula Brut 95 $35.00
2002 Ashton Hills Clare Valley Sparkling Shiraz 95 $47.00
2000 Freycinet Radenti Chardonnay Pinot Noir 94 $50.00
2003 Stefano Lubiana Vintage Brut 95 $55.00
NV Primo Estate Joseph Sparkling Red 95 $70.00
69 wines submitted 
32 shortlisted
12 selected

I have long argued that Champagnes in general offer the best value for money of any of the great wines of France (or elsewhere). The Dom Perignon Rose tops the price tree at $780, which will cause a sharp intake of breath for many would-be consumers. But what would you expect to pay for an 11-year-old First Growth Bordeaux from a great vintage, or a Grand Cru Burgundy from a great Burgundian producer? A bottle of 1990 Romanee-Conti will be more than ten times the price of the Dom Perignon. Bringing the comparisons closer to home, and you find that the prices of 2004 Grange and 2005 Hill of Grace are not far behind the Dom Rose.


The record field of 69 Champagnes tasted, with three-quarters selling for less than $200, made the selection even more difficult. I must admit I was helped by a gaggle of two-legged, wingless seagulls who mysteriously arrived from other parts of the Coldstream Hills winery (where I do all my tastings) offering their help and expertise. The most obvious development has been the increase in the number of roses across all price points.

Lanson Gold Label Vintage Brut 1998
93 points, $84.99
Numerous quick-fire changes of ownership, and the loss of its estate vineyards, had little effect on the quality of the wines. The key to the style is the absence of malolactic fermentation, the palate always incisive. Here prolonged lees contact has introduced elements of grilled nuts and brioche into the bouquet and palate, the latter fine and long, the acidity prominent, but less forceful than that of the ’96. Typically Pinot Noir (52%)Chardonnay (48%).
Contact Liquid Ideas T (02) 9667 4211

Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV
94 points, $90
Winemaker Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon spent several of years in Tasmania during the Roederer-Heemskerk joint venture days, but no-one has any doubt that it is Jean-Claude Rouzaud who drove the business to unparalleled fame and fortune. This wine is typically a blend of 62% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier, and is noted for its rich, creamy flavours. This particular release seems to me to also have great elegance, and, above all else, length.
Contact Red + White (Sally McGill) T (08) 8124 9024

Moet & Chandon Imperial Rose NV
Familiarity breeds contempt, so they say, and non-vintage Moet is seen just about everywhere. However, it does not deserve to be greeted with a yawn. This is a very interesting, savoury style, reflecting the equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the latter doubtless contributing to the savoury/biscuity characters, and to the overall high flavour of the wine. It also develops quickly, meaning there is absolutely no point in cellaring the wine.
Contact Moet Hennessy (Penelope Fox) T (02) 8344 9908
 
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV
94 points, $90
Like Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot is also owned by LVMH, but no-one would suggest this has led to any confusion between what are radically different styles. Most obviously, a few extra years of bottle-age for the Veuve allows the wine to add nuances of toast or biscuit. This bottle is halfway, so it seems, with lots of citrus and stone fruit, backed by good acidity, and just a hint of toast.
Contact Moet Hennessy (Penelope Fox) T (02) 8344 9908

Bollinger Special Cuvee NV
94 points, $99.95
Given the number of Champagnes priced between $95 and $99.99, I took it on myself to reduce the price of the Bollinger from $100 to $99.95. Mind you, it’s typical of Bollinger to ignore tawdry marketing. Long since free of the aldehydic problems which once disfigured the wine, this is very rich and complex, with pronounced biscuity/creamy textures and flavours before moving through to a fine finish. Only 25% Chardonnay.
Contact Fine Wine Partners (Fiona McDonald) T (02) 8335 8016

Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 1999
95 points, $124.95
Arguably offers the best value for money in the line-up, but Pol often finds itself so rated. Its Blanc de Blancs is the counterpoint to Billecart-Salmon’s Rose, both style leaders at their price points. This is a beautiful wine, with rich citrus and white peach flavours giving way to focus and finesse on the finish; its line and fluidity add to its very considerable appeal.
Contact Samuel Smith & Son (Tim Evans) T (08) 8112 4200 [check]

Henriot Brut Rose NV
95 points, $126.95
The story of the sale that wasn’t of the Henriot brand is too long to tell, but Joseph Henriot ended up with the best of all possible worlds, keeping the brand and still having the wines made at Veuve Clicquot (which he left in 1994). The three Henriot wines in this tasting all stood out, this wine with exceptional thrust and energy to the fine red fruits, carrying through to the very long and clean finish.
Contact Mezzanine Wine (Cassandra Eyres) T 1300 555 821 [check]

Champagne Jacquesson Avize Grand Cru Brut 2000
95 points, $175
This year Jacquesson joined Bollinger, Egly-Ouriet, Krug, Salmon and Selosse as the only three-star Champagne producers by the leading French wine magazine, La Revue du Vin de France. This particular wine was not disgorged until the start of 2008, and received a very low dosage. Sourced entirely from Grand Cru Chardonnay grown in Avize, it has glowing yellow-green colour and has quite exceptional length; a miraculous marriage of purity and complexity.
Contact Cellarhand (Patrick Walsh) 0409  836 939

Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois Billecart 1998
95 points, $190
Both here and in Europe, Billecart’s popularity has focused on its exceptional good non-vintage Rose, so much so that its price has crept up close to its flagship wine, which I have duly selected. It has a complex, fruit-driven bouquet, then multiple layers of fruit giving the palate both depth and complexity, before lovely freshness takes over on the finish. Pinot Noir (55%)/Chardonnay (45%).
Contact DWS T (03) 9878 7848

Louis Roederer Cristal Brut 2002
97 points, $375
Cristal enjoys hyper-cult status, and is made almost every vintage, thanks to the 190 hectares of vineyards owned by Roederer. Many things are going on in the very complex and intense bouquet, reflected in the multi-citrus flavours of the palate which yield to an almost delicate and wonderfully clean finish. Pinot Noir (55%)/Chardonnay (45%), although you might guess the percentages the other way around.
Contact Red + White (Sally McGill) T (08) 8124 9024

Krug Vintage 1998
98 points, $525
The suppression of malolactic fermentation allows this almost impossibly complex wine to have such a long life, reaching its peak between 20 and 30 years of age. Straw-gold in colour, ripe fruits, dried fruits, biscuit and caramel all come through on the complex bouquet, and flow into the palate. This has explosive length and intensity, the finish long, the aftertaste amazing. It is the magic of Krug which produces such a lovely wine from an ordinary vintage.
Contact Moet Hennessy (Penelope Fox) T (02) 8344 9908

Dom Perignon Vintage Rose 1998
98 points, $780
Decades were to pass after the first vintage of Dom Perignon in 1921 before a Rose was made and released. When Krug and Dom Perignon both included a Rose version, rose’s legitimacy could no longer be questioned. The multitude of red fruits and spices give the bouquet an ethereal quality unlike any other Champagne, while the palate presents those same characters in an intense yet flowery freedom which soars above all other Roses than that of Krug.
Contact Moet Hennessy (Penelope Fox) T (02) 8344 9908
Champagne Near misses: Rating Price
NV Lanson Black Label Brut 92 $69.99
NV Ayala Brut Majeur 93 $80.00
NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve 93 $85.00
NV Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve 94 $91.99
1998 Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Millesime Vintage 94 $110.00
2002 Veuve Clicquot Vintage Blanc 95 $130.00
1998 Dom Ruinart 96 $320.00
NV Krug Grande Cuvee 97 $350.00
NV Krug Rose 97 $679.00

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