Top 100 wines of 2010

Welcome to the 2010 edition of my Top 100 wine guide. And before I go any further, the mathematicians among you are correct: there are 110. The early warning sign of trouble ahead was the 1842 entries from the 599 pre-qualified wineries, 190 more wines than last year’s record of 1652 wines.

The logistics involve daily trips to the Coldstream Post Office to collect car-loads of styro and cardboard boxes, lifting 3/4 tonne bins, usually used for grapes during vintage, full of wine boxes by forklift to the first floor storage room, unpacking the boxes, entering the wines into the database, quarantining bottles sent in the ordinary course by wineries not on the Top 100 invitation list, physically segregating them by variety and price (under and over $20), sequentially moving them to the tasting room, arranged in database order, pouring them, removing the bottles once tasted, disposing of empty bottles but keeping in price and variety order those contending for selection (screwcaps mean the bottles ultimately selected are suitable for photography), and repeating this for 120 wines per day, day after day.

All of this is set within very tight timeframes, and it is impossible to wet-nurse wineries that don’t submit wines prior to the deadline, or at all. There are always notable absentees, and this year is no exception.

On a more positive note, there is a super-abundance of truly fine wines on the market across all price points and varietal styles. So much so that I decided not to feature wines under $12; there are largely sold in supermarkets and their affiliates with discounts of ever-changing amounts.

The much publicised wine surplus, and increasing competition from wines imported by and sold by supermarket chains, is undoubtedly putting downwards pressure on the prices of Australian wines. The strong dollar makes exports harder, imports easer, to sell. And it’s not just the Marlborough sauvignon blanc tsunami: astute selection by the supermarkets of wines from key regions and highly regarded wineries across Europe has resulted in the lowest prices (in adjusted dollars) every seen here.

For you, the consumers, it’s a happy hunting ground out there. I’m not advocating the purchase of imported wines in preference to those of Australia; you still get better value and greater certainty of quality for the home-grown product. But wine is all about diversity, and we Australians are curious. If Australian producers can’t hold their place on home turf, what chance do they have meeting the same or similar wines in other markets with no home ground advantage?

The long march of the screwcap continues, but is as close to the finish line as it is ever likely to be for all except over $20 reds. Here older vintages, branded or deluxe bottles, the resistance of the US market, and the belief of some that cork is the superior closure for over $20 red wines, and that it is ethical to use the inferior (screwcap) closure for their under $20 reds, will keep the march going for some years to come.



Category Screwcaps Corks (including Diam and ProCork)
Under $20 Whites 98.6% 1.4%
Under $20 Reds 96.7% 2.3%
Over $20 Whites 98.5% 1.5%
Over $20 Reds 83.2% 16.8%


WHITES UNDER $20

Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Mount Barker Wallflower Riesling 2010
Sevenhill Cellars Inigo Clare Valley Riesling 2010
Bellarmine Pemberton Riesling 2010
Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon 2009
Chateau Francois Pokolbin Mallee Semillon 2003
Tulloch Hunter Valley Semillon 2010
Nugan Estate Cookoothama King Valley Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010
Watershed Shades Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009
Pepper Tree Hunter Valley Marlborough Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010
De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Vasse Felix Margaret River Classic Dry White Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010
West Cape Howe Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Mike Press Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2010
Noonji Estate Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2009
Plunkett Fowles Stone Dwellers Strathbogie Ranges Chardonnay 2008
Tempus Two Copper Wilde Chardonnay 2009
Chalkers Crossing Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2008
Two Rivers Hidden Hive Hunter Valley Verdelho 2009
Grant Burge East Argyle Pinot Gris 2009
Madeleines Nangkita Single Vineyard Viognier 2008

REDS UNDER $20

Jacob's Creek Three Vines Shiraz Grenache Sangiovese 2009
Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Rose 2010
Quealy Balnarring Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
Lerida Estate Lake George Canberra District Pinot Noir 2008
Moppity Vineyards Lock & Key Single Vineyard Hilltops Shiraz 2009
Frankland Estate Rocky Gully Shiraz Viognier 2008
McPherson Basilisk Shiraz Mourvedre 2008
K1 by Geoff Hardy Silver Label Shiraz 2008
Kirrihill Single Vineyard Tullymore Vineyard Clare Valley Shiraz 2008
De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008
Five Geese Old Vine McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz 2006
Ingoldby McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009
Truffle Hill Pemberton Merlot 2008
Kingston Estate Limestone Coast Mt Lofty Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lake Breeze Bullant Langhorne Creek Cabernet Merlot 2008
Pirramimma Stock's Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Petit Verdot Merlot 2006
Majella The Musician Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2009
Elderton Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Barwang Vineyard Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Howard Park MadFish Sideways Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008

WHITES OVER $20

Castle Rock Estate Great Southern Riesling 2010
Pewsey Vale Prima Eden Valley Riesling 2009
Lethbridge Dr Nadeson Portland Riesling 2009
Leo Buring Leonay DWI18 Mature Release Riesling 2005
Brokenwood ILR Reserve Hunter Valley Semillon 2005
Thomas Braemore Cellar Reserve Hunter Valley Semillon 2005
McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Limited Release Hunter Valley Semillon 2005
Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Xanadu Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010
Cape Mentelle Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010
Geoff Weaver Ferus Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Fonty’s Pool Vineyards Single Vineyard Pemberton Chardonnay 2008
Hoddles Creek Estate 1er Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2009
Montalto Vineyards The Eleven Chardonnay 2008
Moorooduc Estate The Moorooduc Chardonnay 2008
Hardys Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2008
Oakridge 864 Van der Meulen Vineyard Chardonnay 2009
Tuck's Ridge Buckle Chardonnay 2008
Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay 2008
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2007

REDS OVER $20

Tamar Ridge Kayena Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2009
Freycinet Pinot Noir 2008
Tuck's Ridge Buckle Pinot Noir 2008
Yering Station Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008
Red Hill Estate Mornington Peninsula Shiraz 2008
Thomas DJV Vineyard Selection Hunter Valley  Shiraz 2009
Head The Blonde Stonewell Shiraz Viognier 2009
Saracen Estates Margaret River Shiraz 2008
Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
John Duval Entity Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
Tintara Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006
Lindemans Limestone Ridge Vineyard Shiraz Cabernet 2008
Pokolbin Estate Reserve Hunter Valley Shiraz 2007
McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz 2007
Yalumba Single Site Bartholomaeous Vineyad Eden Valley Shiraz 2006
Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2009
Penfolds Grange 2005
Ashbrook Estate Margaret River Cabernet Merlot Cabernet Franc 2005
Ferngrove Majestic Frankland River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Xanadu Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Pierro Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot LTCf 2008
Sandalford Estate Reserve Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Yalumba The Signature Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2006
Houghton Gladstones Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Cullen Diana Madeline 2008
Coriole McLaren Vale Sangiovese 2009
Teusner The Dog Strangler 2009
Chalice Bridge Estate Margaret River Merlot 2007

AUSTRALIAN SPARKLING

Brown Brothers King Valley Pinot Noir Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier NV
Cassegrain Edition Noir Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV
Domaine Chandon Vintage Brut 2007
Jansz Tasmania Premium Vintage Cuvee 2005
Petaluma Croser Late Disgorged Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2000
House of Arras Grand Vintage 2003
Primo Estate Joseph Sparkling Red NV
House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 1998

CHAMPAGNE

Ayala Zero Dosage Brut Nature NV
Pol Roger Brut 2000
Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2002
Charles Heidsieck Rose Brut Reserve NV
Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2002
Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut NV
Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Brut 2002
Dom Perignon 2002
Dom Ruinart Brut 1998
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1999
Louis Roederer Cristal Brut NV
Krug Brut Rose NV

Whites Under $20

297 wines submitted
45 shortlisted
20 selected

Riesling: Partly because the wines are made without the use of oak, and partly due to their release within six months or less of vintage, they provide exceptional value for money. Moreover, they flower with five years or more in bottle. It’s a sign of the times, too, that two of the three selected come from WA.


Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Mount Barker Wallflower Riesling 2010
95 points, $18, Screwcap, 11.5% alc
The striking, varied label designs shouldn’t distract you, for neither it nor the flowery, blossom-accented bouquet give warning of the exceptionally intense and long palate that follows, lime and lemon juice drawing saliva from the mouth, and lingering into the finish and aftertaste. Great now or later.
From Mount Barker, WA
Drink Now-2020 with Fresh asparagus with hollandaise
www.larrycherubino.com

Sevenhill Cellars Inigo Clare Valley Riesling 2010
96 points, $19, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
This beautiful estate-grown riesling has a startlingly fragrant bouquet, perfumed and flowery, and the palate comes as no disappointment, with lilting citrus and passionfruit flavours and a long finish. Sometimes this level of fruit expression has a degree of reduction, but this wine is as fresh as a spring day.
From Clare Valley, SA
Drink Now-2020 with Japanese lunch box
www.sevenhill.com.au

Bellarmine Pemberton Riesling 2010
95 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 12% alc
Bellarmine’s estate vineyards are not only well located, but impeccably managed, resulting in reliably high quality grapes. This wine is ever a wolf in sheep’s clothing, unless you read the back label revealing that some residual sugar gives the palate a cornucopia of sweet lime juice flavour perfectly balanced by acidity.
From Pemberton
Drink Now-2020 with Stir-fried chilli prawns
www.bellarmine.com.au

Semillon: Shares with riesling a (relatively) low cost of production, in turn resulting in bargain-basement prices. Here, too, there is some challenge to the former absolute monopoly of the classic Hunter Valley style, particularly by Peter Lehmann.


Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon 2009
92 points, $12, Screwcap, 10.5% alc
The cuckoo in the nest yet again; the skill and intelligence of the winemaking team’s handling of semillon across all price points is awesome, here giving the Hunter Valley a beating, although not (sadly) Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Drink now, or later as the lemon aromas and flavours yield to honey and a touch of toast.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink Now-2015 with Stir-fried vegetables
www.peterlehmannwines.com

Chateau Francois Pokolbin Mallee Semillon 2003
94 points, $14, Cork, 11% alc
I purchased a dozen bottles of this wine,  and with half gone, every bottle has had a light, almost glowing, green-straw colour, a vibrant and fresh bouquet with fresh cut grass, lemon and herb aromas, the palate lively and intense, crisp acidity lengthening the finish. At this price, an oxidised bottle or two should be no drama.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now-2015 with Yabby salad

Tulloch Hunter Valley Semillon 2010
93 points, $16, Screwcap, 11.5% alc
Two Rivers is a part-owner of Tulloch, and supplies part of Tulloch’s grape intake from estate vineyards established in 1988. Green-straw in colour, the wine has a squeeze of lime zest reminiscent of the ’09 vintage character, and the palate is juicy rather than minerally. Top early drinking style.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink to Now-2015 with Sauteed scallops
www.tulloch.com.au


Sauvignon Blanc and blends: New Zealand has negligible semillon, and has contented itself with 100% sauvignon blanc. Even before the Marlborough tsunami struck, Australian winemakers across the country found the White Bordeaux model of sauvignon blanc semillon blends produced top class results. These are food-friendly wines across all seasons.


Nugan Estate Cookoothama King Valley Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010
93 points, $14.95, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
Bright, light straw-green, this estate-grown wine has a complex, crushed green leaf bouquet, then a generous palate with a mix of citrus, grapefruit and riper tropical/guava flavours; harmonious mouthfeel, and strictly for immediate consumption over the coming summer, but a lot of wine for the dollar.
From King Valley, Vic
Drink Now with Fettucine marinara
www.nuganestate.com.au

Watershed Shades Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009
93 points, $16.95, Screwcap, 12% alc
Since first tasted a year ago, has retained the requisite crispness and freshness throughout; the colour is still bright and light, the lively and fragrant bouquet is followed by an energetic palate gaining pace from the mid-point to the aftertaste, with an array of grass, citrus and passionfruit flavours.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now with Lightly battered calamari rings
www.watershedwines.com.au

Pepper Tree Hunter Valley Marlborough Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010
95 points, $18, Screwcap, 11.5% alc
The best of two worlds? If you can’t beat them, join them. Well, yes. The super-fragrant bouquet is all Marlborough, with passionfruit and kiwifruit to the fore, then semillon swings into action on the intense and long palate, ending up with a wine you wish to drink, not sip. Punches way above its price weight.
From Marlborough, NZ/Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now with New Zealand whitebait
www.peppertreewines.com.au

De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2010
94 points, $19, Screwcap, 12% alc
If you really love Marlborough sauvignon blanc, best give this a miss; there is no fountain of tropical fruits, but there is structure to an elegant, finely chiselled wine, with pea pod, grass and mineral notes filled out by partial barrel ferment and lees stirring. The finish is long and clean, with a nod to white Bordeaux.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink Now with Lemon-marinated fish
www.debortoli.com.au

Vasse Felix Margaret River Classic Dry White Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010
94 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
The bouquet half suggests some barrel ferment, although there is none disclosed, as it has complexity to the array of aromas that provide the opening stanza, but it is the intensity and drive of the palate that takes this wine onto another level, with the full gamut of fruit and mineral flavours.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now-2012 with Bouillabaise
www.vassefelix.com.au

West Cape Howe Sauvignon Blanc 2010
95 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
There is something for everyone in this wine, not the least great value. Pale quartz-tinged with green colour, then an aromatic bouquet with distinct wild herb notes, the juicily intense palate adding pea pod and citrus; crisp, crunchy acidity on the finish leaves the mouth thirsting for more.
48 words
From Mount Barker, WA
Drink Now with Salmon and zucchini terrine
www.westcapehowewines.com.au


Chardonnay: Chardonnay is the most flexible of all white varieties, gracefully bowing to the imperatives of climate and to the whims of the winemaker. It can, of course, be abused, but if given some respect, produces wine that has distinctive varietal character and great mouthfeel.


Mike Press Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2010
93 points, $12, Screwcap, 14% alc
Pale quartz-green, it has a highly scented blossom bouquet, its grapefruit, nectarine and melon fruit with a whisper of oak; as ever with Mike Press, comprehensively over-delivers on price.  The key elements are vibrancy, freshness and elegance.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink Now-2013 with Pippie risotto
www.mikepresswines.com.au

Noonji Estate Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2009
94 points, $18, Screwcap, 13.3% alc
Produced from hand-picked, 40-year-old, dry-grown, low-yielding vines, factors which explain the length and intensity of flavour; fermentation in large older oak has laid only a light hand on the stone fruit/grapefruit flavours. The skill of contract winemaker Nick Patterson is very obvious in a little known wine.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now-2015 with Avocado and prawn salad
www.noonji.com.au

Plunkett Fowles Stone Dwellers Strathbogie Ranges Chardonnay 2008
94 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Still very light colour; an elegant wine, with a lingering, drawn-out finish emphasising the length of the palate; citrussy acidity also comes to the party, the oak very well integrated and balanced. Some peach/stone fruit, slow development over the last 14 months. French oak puncheons (500 litres) and wild yeast both employed.
From Strathbogie Ranges, Vic
Drink Now-2016 with Sushi
www.plunkettfowles.com.au

Tempus Two Copper Wilde Chardonnay 2009
94 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 13% alc
I can’t love the doubtless expensive, self-detaching metal label, but this cleverly made wine is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, bringing Hunter Valley and Adelaide Hills grapes, wild yeast and some barrel ferment to the table; it has a juicy length and lingering aftertaste.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now-2014 with Fresh salmon with sorrel cream sauce
www.tempustwo.com.au

Chalkers Crossing Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2008
94 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 14% alc
From the Maragle Creek Vineyard, it spends 12 months in French oak, and displays all the usual elegance and subtlety of Chalkers Crossing chardonnays; white peach and grapefruit sit with more creamy cashew notes; a restrained and pure wine in every way that nonetheless has urgency and drive to the long palate. Flourishing in bottle. From Hilltops, NSW
Drink Now-2014 with Quiche Lorraine
www.chalkerscrossing.com.au


Other whites: My decision not to include cutting-edge alternative varieties will irritate or disappoint some, but the reality is there are precious few under $20 that have even half the merit of the mainstream varieties.


Two Rivers Hidden Hive Hunter Valley Verdelho 2009
94 points, $14, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
What a vintage '09 was: glorious fruit flavours and intensity across all white varieties, and this is no exception - really long and vibrant; verdelho doesn't come much better. It has kept length, drive and intensity, the finish and aftertaste replaying the delicious fruit salad and citrus flavours of the mid-palate.
From Upper Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now-2013 with Pasta carbonara
www.tworiverswines.com.au

Grant Burge East Argyle Pinot Gris 2009
93 points, $18.95, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Pinot gris has been officially denied entry in the Alternative Varietal Wines Show, and been favourably critiqued by the Australian Wine Research Institute. It has arrived! Strong pear and apple aromas on the bouquet, are replayed on the long, rich palate; altogether superior pinot gris.
From Adelaide Hills/Eden Valley, SA
Drink Now-2012 with Smoked pork
www.grantburge.com.au

Madeleines Nangkita Single Vineyard Viognier 2008
94 points, $19.50, Screwcap, 13% alc
Viognier is a difficult variety to handle from a technical viewpoint, so this wild yeast-fermented wine did especially well in winning a gold medal at this year’s Sydney Wine Show. Remarkably intense palate combining peach, stone fruit and grapefruit; very good balance and length. Its overall freshness and vibrancy are even better.
From Southern Fleurieu, SA
Drink Now-2013 with Grilled spatchcock
www.vincognita.com.au

Under $20 Whites - The most unlucky misses:

Riesling Rating Price
Moppity Vineyards Lock & Key Single Vineyard Hilltops 2010 94 $15
Jim Barry Watervale 2010 94 $16.95
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Clare Valley 2010 95 $19.95
Semillon Rating Price
Brokenwood Hunter Valley 2009 95 $19.95
Sauvignon Blanc and blends Rating Price
Devil's Lair Fifth Leg Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 93 $17.95
Wise Margaret River Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 93 $18
Cape Mentelle Georgiana 2010 93 19
Mainbreak Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 93 $19
Nepenthe Altitude Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010 93 $19
Rosily Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2010 93 $19
Alkoomi White Label Frankland River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 94 $19.95
Flametree Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 94 $19.95
Hay Shed Hill Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 93 $19.95
Pikes Valley's End Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009 94 $19.95
Chardonnay Rating Price
Printhie Mountain Range Orange 2009 93 $17
Quealy Balnarring Vineyard 2009 92 $18
De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley 2008 94 $19
Mistletoe Hunter Valley 2009 92 $19.95
Other Whites Rating Price
Yalumba Organic Viognier 91 $13.95
Wise Coat Door Classic Dry White 2009 90 $14
Tulloch Hunter Valley Verdelho 2010 93 $16
Pfeiffer Marsanne 2009 92 $18.50
Nepenthe Altitude Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2010 91 $19
Langmeil GWH Barossa Viognier 2009 93 $19.95



Reds Under $20

309 wines submitted
49 shortlisted
20 selected
Rose: Like pinot gris, there is often little to guide the unwary consumer, particularly the degree of sweetness. Some are literally the by-products of red wines needing more structure: the rose juice is bled off (saignee), thus concentrating what is left. These two wines have been carefully made from the ground up without compromise, and are both dry.


Jacob's Creek Three Vines Shiraz Grenache Sangiovese 2009
94 points, $14.95, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
First tasted March ‘10, and is still remarkably fresh. It also broke the rule, as it were, by winning a gold medal at this year’s Sydney Wine Show, and a Blue-Gold at the Sydney International Wine Competition. Pale magenta, it has fragrant red fruit aromas, then an almost slippery palate, red fruits continuing to drive the long finish.
58 words
From Langhorne Creek/Padthway, SA, Murray Darling, NSW
Drink now with Ricotta ravioli
www.jacobscreek.com

Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Rose 2010
95 points, $18, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
A blend of 54% grenache, 28% shiraz, 12% cabernet sauvignon and 6% dolcetto, the most complex rose in Australia, the grapes used only for this wine. Bright, pale puce, it is carefully carefully calibrated from the opening stanzas of the bouquet and fore-palate through to the complex, long finish with its mix of spicy/savoury red fruits.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink now with Asian seafood
www.turkeyflat.com.au


Pinot Noir: Finding good pinot noirs under $20 is increasingly difficult; the two selected are in very different styles, but share the invitation to drink now or over the next couple of years (thanks to their screwcaps).


Quealy Balnarring Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
92 points, $18, Screwcap, 12.9% alc
Somewhat like a rose on steroids, this makes a great summer drink. Vivid crimson-purple, its fragrant bouquet, and vibrantly fresh red fruit aromas and flavours, suggest little or no oak contact. Relatively early picking has been an unequivocal success, giving the wine both purity and length, and leaving no heat on the palate.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink Now-2012 with Chinese duck salad
www.quealy.com.au

Lerida Estate Lake George Canberra District Pinot Noir 2008
92 points, $18.50, Screwcap, 13.3% alc
Light red colour; this is a distinctly spicy/sappy/savoury evocation of the variety, but with a clear varietal core of dark cherry fruit. It relies on length rather than depth, and won gold medals last year at the National Cool Climate Wine Show and the Cowra Wine Show, the judges doubtless impressed by that length.
From Canberra District, NSW
Drink Now-2013 with Black truffle risotto
www.leridaestate.com


Shiraz and blends: The competition in this category is intense; grape surpluses have their upside as well as downside.


Moppity Vineyards Lock & Key Single Vineyard Hilltops Shiraz 2009
92 points, $15, Screwcap, 13.9% alc
While this is the third label behind the Reserve and Estate  labels, it was a gold medal winner at Winewise ’10. Unsurprisingly, it shares many features with the Estate, notably its bright colour, the fragrance of its spicy cherry fruit and medium body; even if the tannins are less silky.
From Hilltops, NSW
Drink 2011-2019 with Lasagne
www.moppity.com.au

Frankland Estate Rocky Gully Shiraz Viognier 2008
93 points, $17, Screwcap, 14% alc
There was a time when Frankland Estate’s rieslings were superb, the red wines dull; the latter are now in the same quality league and compelling value for money. The fragrant bouquet offers spice and polished leather aromas, the palate a very lively bundle of red and black fruits, Asian spices and fine tannins.
From Frankland River, WA
Drink 2012-2018 with Spaghetti bolognese
www.franklandestate.com.au

McPherson Basilisk Shiraz Mourvedre 2008
94 points, $17.95, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Gets better with each vintage, this ’08 lifting the bar to gold medal status at the Sydney Wine Show ’10. Very well made, the spicy red and black cherry fruit of the shiraz working synergistically with the tannins of the dark berry mourvedre, which are fine rather than robust.
From Nagambie Lakes, Vic
Drink Now-2016 with Double-cooked pork hock
www.mcphersonwines.com

K1 by Geoff Hardy Silver Label Shiraz 2008
94 points, $18, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
The then already well-known viticulturist Geoff Hardy selected this site in 1987, at the extreme southern end of the Adelaide Hills, just within the 400 m contour boundary line. A small proportion of co-fermented viognier lifts the palate, which has excellent vibrancy and length in cool climate mode; silky tannins run through the finish.
From Adelaide Hills,
Drink Now-2018 with Steak and mushroom pie
www.k1.com.au

Kirrihill Single Vineyard Tullymore Vineyard Clare Valley Shiraz 2008
94 points, $18.95, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Small batch winemaking included a nine-day pre-fermentation cold soak. The rich and complex dark berry fruits of the bouquet holds out the promise of a quality palate, and the wine does not disappoint; layers of flavour in a spicy blackberry fruit range, good tannins and oak complete the picture.
From Clare Valley, SA
Drink 2014-2028 with Beef shashlick
www.kirrihillwines.com.au

De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008
94 points, $19, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
The wine is estate grown, open-fermented with hand plunging, and spends 10 months in new and used French oak, an expensive upbringing for a $19 bottle of wine. Has typically bright and lifted red cherry aromas and flavours; superfine tannins lengthen the finish, as does the French oak. Seductive style.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink Now-2016 with Duck and mushroom pie
www.debortoli.com.au

Five Geese Old Vine McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz 2006
94 points, $19, Diam, 14.5% alc
The blend is 80% grenache from 78-year-old, dry-grown bush vines, and 20% shiraz. First tasted two years ago, the bright, clear colour is undimmed, the perfume is still there, as are the red fruits of an elegant and harmonious medium-bodied palate with a marvellously long and persistent finish and aftertaste.
From McLaren Vale, SA
Drink Now-2015 with Cassoulet
www.fivegeese.com.au

Ingoldby McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009
94 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 14% alc
Whether the small percentage of barbera included has played a role is debatable, for this deep crimson-purple wine is a perfect expression of terroir and variety; plum and blackberry fruit with a coating of dark chocolate set the scene on the bouquet,  seductively luscious, smooth, velvety palate then follows. Surprise packet.
From McLaren Vale, SA
Drink 2013-2024 with Beef spare ribs
www.ingoldby.com.au


Merlot: The sole selection underlines the paucity of merlots capable of standing up to the quality of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon on the one hand, and the Mediterranean varieties on the other.


Truffle Hill Pemberton Merlot 2008
94 points, $19.98, Screwcap, 14.3% alc
Established in 1997 as The Wine & Truffle Co by investors who soon hit pay dirt with truffles from their 13 000 chestnut and oak trees. The debate continues on the best varieties for Pemberton; this wine mounts a compelling case for merlot: it is medium-bodied, with silky tannins and utterly seductive red berry and plum aromas and .
From Pemberton, WA
Drink 2012-2018 with Black truffle risotto
www.wineandtruffle.com.au


Cabernet Sauvignon and blends: As hotly contested as the shiraz group; there is ample evidence to demonstrate cabernet is mounting a comeback in popularity (and quality).


Kingston Estate Limestone Coast Mt Lofty Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
94 points, $13.95, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Deep, dark purple-red; the dark, black fruits with nuances of earth and chocolate are no surprise given the lead of the colour; medium- to full-bodied, with cedar and earth nuances to the black fruits and firm but balanced tannins on the palate. Hard to imagine a better cellaring prospect at this price point; exceptional value.
From Limestone Coast/Mount Lofty Ranges, SA
Drink 2013-2023 with Barbecued lamb shoulder
www.kingstonestatewines.com

Lake Breeze Bullant Langhorne Creek Cabernet Merlot 2008
92 points, $15, Screwcap, 14.2% alc
The Follett family has farmed in Langhorne Creek since the 1880s, grown grapes since the 1930s, and began winemaking in 1987. This medium-bodied wine marries soft, luscious blackcurrant plum fruit with fine, gently savoury tannins and well-balanced and integrated oak. Great value and ready to roll.
From Langhorne Creek, SA
Drink Now-2016 with Pizza with the lot
www.lakebreeze.com.au

Pirramimma Stock's Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Petit Verdot Merlot 2006
92 points, $16, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Good hue and colour retention; an unashamedly full-bodied wine, with a complex array of cedar, spice and earth on the one hand, blackcurrant and dark chocolate on the other, firm tannins providing the net to hold all the parts together. A top vintage, and will move to more medium-bodied elegance with age.
From McLaren Vale, SA
Drink 2016-2026 with Lamb casserole
www.pirramimma.com.au

Majella The Musician Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2009
94 points, $17, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Year in, year out, one of the best value reds on the Australian market, this no exception; it has a classic regional bouquet, the elements so woven together it is pointless to dissect them, the palate with a blaze of juicy blackcurrant, plum and blackberry fruit, with perfectly weighted tannins and oak lurking in the background.
From Coonawarra, SA
Drink now-2017 with Anything that takes your fancy
www.majellawines.com.au

Elderton Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
94 points, $19, Screwcap, 14% alc
Elderton has extended its Barossa Valley holdings by purchasing an Eden Valley vineyard on the outskirts of Craneford. Bright purple-red, the perfumed redcurrant aromas lead into a palate with abundant juicy, fleshy fruit, fine tannins, and a bare hint of oak from nine months in older French hogsheads.
From Eden Valley, SA
Drink Now-2016 with Smoked Barossa meats
www.eldertonwines.com.au

Barwang Vineyard Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
94 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 14% alc
This wine comes from one of the most under-rated regions in Australia. It is an excellent cabernet from the first whiff of cedar on the bouquet through to the finish and aftertaste, supple, ripe blackcurrant fruit on the palate the vehicle for the adornment of oak and gentle extract of fine-grained tannins.
From Hilltops, NSW
Drink 2104-2024 with Parmagiana
www.mcwilliamswinesgroup.com

Howard Park MadFish Sideways Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008
93 points, $19.95, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Howard Park’s pre-emptive strike with Sideways is curious: will there be a pinot soon? Good colour; classic Margaret River style, tightly structured and focused, with hints of gravel among the blackcurrant and cassis fruit flavours; the tannins are well integrated, the oak likewise.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now-2018 with Backstrap of lamb
www.howardparkwines.com.au



Under $20 Reds The most unlucky misses:

Rose Rating Price
Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley McLaren Vale Grenache Rose 2010 93 $18.50
Geoff Merrill Bush Vine McLaren Vale Grenache Rose 2010 92 $19.99
Pinot Noir Rating Price
Merricks Estate Thompson's Lane 2009 91 $19.95
Shiraz and blends Rating Price
Deakin Estate Shiraz 2009 89 $10
Yalumba Organic Shiraz 2010 90 $13.95
Casella yellow tail Reserve Special Selection Shiraz 2008 93 $14.95
Westend Estate Cool Climate Hilltops Shiraz 2008 91 $14.95
St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Barossa Shiraz Grenache 2009 91 $15
Shingleback Haycutters McLaren Vale Shiraz Viognier 2008 93 $16.95
Hungerford Hill Fishcage Shiraz 2009 93 $18
Kalleske Clarry's Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2009 94 $18
Wise Margaret River Frankland River Shiraz 2008 93 $18
Tahbilk Shiraz 2007 93 $18.95
Aramis Vineyards White Label McLaren Vale Shiraz Cabernet 2008 94 $19
Alkoomi Black Label Frankland River Shiraz Viognier 2008 93 $19.95
Flynns Lewis Road Heathcote Shiraz 2008 94 $19.95
Hardys Oomoo McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008 92 $19.95
Hentley Farm Dirty Bliss Grenache Shiraz 2009 93 $19.95
Innocent Bystander Syrah 2009 93 $19.95
Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Barossa Shiraz 2008 94 $19.95
Cabernet Sauvignon and blends Rating Price
Shaw Vineyard Estate Winemakers Selection Cabernet Merlot 2008 92 $15
Shaw Vineyard Estate Winemakers Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 91 $15
Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 91 $15.95
Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 93 $18.95
Castelli Estate Cerca Cabernet Merlot 2009 93 $19.95
d'Arenberg The High Trellis McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 94 $19.95
Houghton Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 93 $19.95
Other reds Rating Price
Yalumba Running With Bulls Barossa Tempranillo 2009 92 $18.95
Brown Brothers Limited Release Single Vineyard Heathcote Durif 2008 93 $19.90



Whites Over $20  

393 wines submitted
85 shortlisted
21 selected

Riesling:  The wine that all professionals love to drink, the advent of screwcaps (and perhaps Vino-Lok) meaning you can drink it young, or in a few years (or a few decades) secure in the knowledge that neither oxidation nor cork taint will interfere with its majestic progress.

Castle Rock Estate Great Southern Riesling 2010
96 points, $22, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
The estate vineyards are now 27 years old, and quietly spoken winemaker Rob Diletti has an exceptional palate. An arresting bouquet of wild flower and citrus blossom leads into a classic Castle Rock palate that year-in, year-out gradually develops great complexity, building on the extreme length already present.
From Great Southern, WA
Drink Now-2025 with Tuna sushi
www.castlerockestate.com.au

Pewsey Vale Prima Eden Valley Riesling 2009
95 points, $24.95, Vino-Lok, 9.5% alc
It took a couple of years for winemaker Louisa Rose to perfect the style, and this she has done. The grapes are picked early to protect natural acidity, and some residual sugar is left to balance the palate; green apple with a lemony edge is refreshing, long and perfectly poised.
From Eden Valley, SA
Drink Now-2025 with Ginger prawns
www.pewseyvale.com

Lethbridge Dr Nadeson Portland Riesling 2009
96 points, $30, Screwcap, 11.5% alc
From the Henty region, seldom mentioned in dispatches when riesling is discussed, despite Crawford River and Seppelt Drumborg being among Australia's best. Ray Nadeson has made the wine with a deliberate touch of sweetness in Mosel style, the sweetness balanced by awesome drive and acidity.
From Henty, Vic
Drink Now-2039 with Summer salads
www.lethbridgewines.com

Leo Buring Leonay DWI18 Mature Release Riesling 2005
96 points, $40, Screwcap, 12% alc
Bright straw-green; a super-fragrant bouquet is led by citrus fruit, a framework of minerally acidity appearing on the palate in support of the fruit, but in perfect balance. A gold at the International Wine Challenge ’09 was followed by three trophies at the Queensland Wine Show ’10.
From Clare Valley, SA
Drink Now-2020 with Sashimi
www.leoburing.com.au



Semillon: If possible, this variety has benefited even more from the advent of screwcap than riesling. It is less exuberant than riesling in the first few years of its life, but grows exponentially thereafter, reaching its first optimum at five years — still youthful but very expressive — thereafter slowly building lightly browned buttered toast and honey flavours over the next 10-15 years.

Brokenwood ILR Reserve Hunter Valley Semillon 2005
96 points, $35, Screwcap, 11% alc
Specifically made to be aged, and not released until it is five years old. Pale, bright straw-green, it is still incredibly youthful, but with wonderfully intense honey and citrus flavours and aromas, the first signs of toast in the background. Great semillon from the first great vintage of the decade, ’09 the second.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now-2020 with Cold smoked salmon
www.brokenwood.com.au

Thomas Braemore Cellar Reserve Hunter Valley Semillon 2005
96 points, $45, Screwcap, 10.2% alc
This wine comes from one of the very best semillon vineyards in the Hunter. Its colour is bright, glowing, green-yellow; still very youthful, yet packed with juicy lemon flavours; has outstanding length and flawless balance; a great semillon with another 10 years-minimum of continued growth in complexity.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now-2020 with Mussels
www.thomaswines.com.au

McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Limited Release Hunter Valley Semillon 2005
95 points, $65, Screwcap, 11.5% alc
A classic wine with a great pedigree. Pale straw-green; still crawling on all fours, so youthful is it; long live the screwcap, although the price comes as a shock after decades of underpricing; lemon citrus and grass still do the talking, with no sign of honey yet which will come with time.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now-2030 with Caesar salad
www.mcwilliamswinegroup.com



Sauvignon Blanc and blends: There is absolutely no point in trying to beat Marlborough sauvignon blanc on its terms, whether 100% sauvignon blanc or blended with semillon, Australia makes a very different style, less precocious but with greater structure.

Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010
95 points, $25, Screwcap, 13% alc
Practice makes perfect, as does attention to the most minute detail. Pale straw-green, it has a complex bouquet with notes of herb and lychee followed by an intense, tightly focused palate with a touch of kiwifruit hiding behind the minerally acidity that binds the wine into a coherent whole.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink Now-2012 with King George whiting
www.shawandsmith.com

Xanadu Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010
96 points, $26, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
Very artfully made, with an overall precision and purity driving through to the finish of the palate; not until then is the touch of barrel ferment revealed. The primary flavours are razor sharp, lemon juice improbably melding with passionfruit and guava. An exceptional wine from the premier region for this blend.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now-2013 with Antipasto
www.xanaduwines.com

Cape Mentelle Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010
96 points, $27.95, Screwcap, 13% alc
This wine has no oak influence, unlike Mentelle’s barrel-fermented Wallcliffe. Light straw-green, it has an extra measure of intensity and drive, with an array of flavours ranging from grassy pea pod to citrus, and ultimately a touch of tropical fruit; the length is a given, likewise the balance.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now-2013 with Margaret River abalone
www.capementelle.com.au

Geoff Weaver Ferus Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc 2009
96 points, $38, Screwcap, 13% alc
This is ‘the other’ Weaver sauvignon blanc, wild-fermented in French oak barriques and given 12 months lees contact. No acid was added, nor was the wine fined. A striking contrast to all other Australian sauvignon blancs that delivers great complexity and equally great intensity. It also has greater longevity than other sauvignon blancs.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink Now-2014 with Seafood chowder
www.geoffweaver.com.au



Chardonnay: There is more activity in the over $20 chardonnay category than any other market segment. There is the once-unthinkable, but now widespread use of wild yeast; grapes are being picked earlier; the amount of new French oak is being reduced, and larger format barrels are being used; lees stirring is seen as optional, not mandatory… the list goes on. Three distinct styles are emerging: one is using Chablis as the yardstick, lean and crisp; the next White Burgundy, with some funky/struck match aromas; the third in the middle ground, loosely called (by me) modern Australian.

Fonty’s Pool Vineyards Single Vineyard Pemberton Chardonnay 2008
96 points, $22, Screwcap, 13% alc
Bright straw-green; a chardonnay with the precision of a Swiss watch, its highly fragrant bouquet ranging through citrus and white flesh stone fruit, the palate picking up those flavours, then adding a fine veneer of oak and a mineral backbone to the package.
From Pemberton, WA
Drink Now to 2017 with Gravlax
www.fontyspoolwines.com.au

Hoddles Creek Estate 1er Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2009
96 points, $35, Screwcap, 13.2% alc
This falls in the modern Australian cool climate style; the bouquet has significantly greater complexity than the other Hoddles Creek Estate chardonnays, the palate, too, with greater length and intensity; however, it retains the striking purity of the vineyard terroir, with melon, white peach and citrus all present on the textured palate.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink Now-2020 with Tempura
www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au

Montalto Vineyards The Eleven Chardonnay 2008
97 points, $55, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
No question, this is a very distinguished and fine chardonnay. Still pale straw-green, it has a complex bouquet swiftly swept up by the intense palate, with grapefruit and white peach underpinned by perfectly balanced acidity; French oak, is, of course, present, but in a pure support role. Will gain further levels of complexity by 2018.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink Now-2018 with Soft-shell crab
www.montalto.com.au

Moorooduc Estate The Moorooduc Chardonnay 2008
97 points, $55, Screwcap, 13.5% alc
Immaculately tended vineyards are the foundation for this wine, sensitive winemaking the icing on the cake. Light straw-green; this wine brings together the best of the McIntyre and Robinson Vineyard wines, complexity, sheer intensity and an extremely long palate with great energy and drive. Close to perfection.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink Now-2019 with Seared tuna
www.moorooducestate.com.au

Hardys Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2008
97 points, $60, Screwcap, 13.3% alc
Can fairly be said to represent the state of the art of chardonnay in Australia today, without in any way diminishing the stature of single vineyard wines; it has exceptional focus and intensity without sacrificing elegance; fruit, oak and acidity are seamless, the palate of extreme length. Three trophies Sydney Wine Show '10.
From Yarra Valley, Vic and Tasmania
Drink Now-2018 with Tuna Sashimi
www.hardys.com.au

Oakridge 864 Van der Meulen Vineyard Chardonnay 2009
97 points, $60, Screwcap, 13% alc
The vineyard is near Seville on the red soil of the Upper Yarra, and is dry-grown, cropping at 5 tonnes per ha; winemaker David Bicknell seeks to push the envelope to Burgundian extremes with 864, but the intensity of the fruit - particularly on the finish - overrides the pushing.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink Now-2020 with Grilled barramundi
www.oakridgewines.com.au

Tuck's Ridge Buckle Chardonnay 2008
96 points, $60, Screwcap, 13.3% alc
From the outstanding 25-year-old Buckle Vineyard, given free play by deliberately low key winemaking. An extremely fragrant bouquet of white peach leads into an intense and very long palate that is nonetheless delicate, so pure is the fruit, the oak seamless, the finish with juicy acidity.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink Now-2023 with Fresh-caught local lobster
www.tucksridge.com.au

Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay 2008
97 points, $90, Screwcap, 13% alc
A brilliant chardonnay showing just how far Penfolds (and top-end Australian chardonnays in general) have come over recent years; ultimate refinement and finesse on the one hand, power, drive and length on the other; fruit and oak fused into a perfect whole. With ’07 and '09 Bin A, has an awesome show record.
From Adelaide Hills, SA
Drink Now-2020 with Milk-fed veal
www.penfolds.com

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2007
96 points, $96, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Right from its first vintage in 1981, staked its claim to be seen as Australia’s greatest chardonnay. Pale, bright straw-green; fragrant grapefruit, melon and white peach aromas, the oak subtle and integrated, are followed by an exceptionally intense and long palate, the alcohol lost in the sea of flavour.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now-2022 with Grilled marron
www.leeuwinestate.com.au

Over $20 Whites The most unlucky misses:

Riesling Rating Price
Annie’s Lane Clare Valley 2009 94 $20.99
Morningside Vineyard 2009 95 $22
Ferngrove Cossack Frankland River 2010 95 $24.95
Dandelion Vineyards Wonderland of the Eden Valley 2010 96 $25
Tower Estate Windmill Vineyard Clare Valley 2010 95 $25
Maverick Trial Hill Eden Valley 2008 95 $25
Howard Park Great Southern 2010 95 $27
Helm Classic Dry Canberra District 2010 95 $28
Mount Horrocks Watervale 2010 96 $29.95
Duke's Vineyard Magpie Hill Reserve 2010 96 $30
Grosset Watervale Off-dry 2010 96 $32
Henschke Julius Eden Valley 2010 96 $31
Seppelt Drumborg 2009 96 $34.99
Kilikanoon Mort's Reserve Watervale 2010 95 $35
Larry Cherubino Cherubino Great Southern 2010 96 $35
Semillon Rating Price
McLeish Estate Hunter Valley 2009 96 $23
David Hook Pothana Vineyard Old Vines Belford 2009 96 $25
Pokolbin Estate Ken Bray 2009 96 $25
Thomas Braemore Individual Vineyard Hunter Valley 2010 96 $27
Pepper Tree Alluvius Reserve Hunter Valley 2010 96 $32
Coolangatta Estate Aged Release Estate Grown 2005 96 $35
Sauvignon Blanc and blends Rating Price
Wills Domain Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 94 $21.50
Ashbrook Estate Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2010 94 $22
Sandalford Estate Reserve Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 95 $22.95
Tower Estate Carey Gully Vineyard Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010 95 $23
Geoff Weaver Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc 2010 95 $24
Larry Cherubino The Yard Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc 2010 95 $25
Vasse Felix Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 96 $25
Clairault Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 95 $25.95
SC Pannell Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010 95 $27
Cullen Cullen Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009 96 $35
Stella Bella Suckfizzle Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2007 96 $45
Chardonnay Rating Price
Alkoomi Black Label Frankland River 2009 94 $22
Madeleines Macclesfield Single Vineyard Musque 2009 94 $24
3 Drops Mount Barker 2008 95 $24
Seppelt Jaluka Drumborg Vineyard 2009 96 $27
Vasse Felix Margaret River 2009 95 $27
Domaine Chandon Yarra Valley 2009 95 $27.95
Castelli Estate Pemberton 2009 95 $28
Flametree Margaret River 2009 95 $28
Xanadu Margaret River 2009 95 $29
Forester Estate Margaret River 2009 95 $30
Philip Shaw No 11 Orange 2008 96 $30
Stella Bella Margaret River 2008 96 $30
Philip Shaw No 11 Orange 2009 95 $32
Cassegrain Fromenteau Reserve 2008 96 $35
Freycinet 2009 95 $35
Hay Shed Hill Block 6 Margaret River 2009 95 $35
McHenry Hohnen Vintners Calgardup Brook Margaret River 2009 96 $36.85
Clairault Estate Margaret River 2009 95 $37
Shaw & Smith M3 Adelaide Hills 2009 96 $38
Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Yarra Valley 2008 96 $39.95
Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba 2009 96 $40
Voyager Estate Margaret River 2007 96 $42
Yabby Lake Vineyard Mornington Peninsula 2008 96 $42
Peccavi Margaret River 2007 96 $45
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Margaret River 2008 96 $45
YarraLoch Stephanie’s Dream 2008 96 $45
Domaine Chandon Barrel Selection Yarra Valley 2008 96 $49.95
Grosset Piccadilly Adelaide Hills 2008 96 $53
Lake's Folly Hunter Valley 2009 96 $60
Sandalford Prendiville Reserve Margaret River 2009 96 $60
Tuck's Ridge Buckle 2008 97 $60
Cullen Kevin John Margaret River 2008 97 $75
Pierro 2008 96 $76
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River 2007 96 $96
Other whites and blends Rating Price
Yabby Lake Vineyard Red Claw Mornington Peninsula Pinot Gris 2010 93 $22.50
McHenry Hohnen Vintners 3 Amigos Margaret River White 2008 94 $24
Clyde Park Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010 94 $29.95
Lethbridge Geelong Pinot Gris 2010 94 $30
Scotchmans Hill Cornelius Bellarine Peninsula Pinot Gris 2008 94 $37

Reds Over $20

698 wines submitted
144 shortlisted
30 selected


Pinot Noir: Yarra Valley pinot noir was overwhelmed by smoke taint from the terrible February bushfires in ’09, leaving the way clear for Tasmania and the Mornington Peninsula to fill the gap.


Tamar Ridge Kayena Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
96 points, $30, Screwcap, 13% alc
Brown Brothers’ recent acquisition of Tamar Ridge is a master stroke that will immeasurably increase the Brown Brothers’ business base. Clear crimson-red; a highly fragrant cherry and plum bouquet introduces a wine with tremendous drive and vibrancy on its palate; it is barely necessary to say it has great length and finesse. From Northern Tasmania
Drink Now-2018 with Mushroom risotto
www.tamarridge.com.au

Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2009
97 points, $36, Screwcap, 13.8% alc
Excellent depth of colour; the bouquet has that X factor of top pinot, with complex plum, spice and calibrated oak, the palate picking up precisely where it should, reinforcing the complexity and generosity of a truly delicious pinot, retaining finesse and elegance in the midst of the candy store of flavours.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink Now-2020 with Duck breast cooked rare
www.tenminutesbytractor.com.au

Freycinet Pinot Noir 2008
96 points, $65, Screwcap, 14% alc
For Tasmania, the warm vintages attributed to climate change have improved the quality of the pinots. This has retained very good hue; a fragrant bouquet of plum and black cherry and spice leads into a supple high-flavoured palate braced by fine, lingering tannins giving great shape and texture to the finish.
From East Coast Tasmania
Drink Now-2020 with Pot-roasted quail
www.freycinetvineyard.com.au

Tuck's Ridge Buckle Pinot Noir 2008
97 points, $100, Screwcap, 13.7% alc
Only 220 cases were made, cropped at 1.8 tonnes per acre, and matured in 60% new French oak. It is brilliantly clear, still crimson; a rich and fragrant bouquet of perfectly ripened plummy fruit sets the scene for the deeply flavoured and very long palate; it has superb mouthfeel, thanks to ultimate finesse and length.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink Now-2018 with Braised kid
www.tucksridge.com.au


Shiraz and blends: Shiraz is the most flexible and accommodating red variety, responding to almost very combination of climate and soil, and readily accepting other varieties seeking to join in the party.


Yering Station Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008
96 points, $28, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Bright, clear crimson; a supremely fragrant bouquet with red and black cherry fruit interwoven with allspice, the immaculately constructed and balanced palate, with fine, faintly savoury, tannins and a blessing of French oak, once again proves Yering Station’s mastery of the style.
From Yarra Valley, Vic
Drink 2013-2023 with Braised ox tail
www.yering.com

Red Hill Estate Mornington Peninsula Shiraz 2008
96 points, $30, Screwcap, 13.7% alc
A wine that has echoes of pinot noir in its extreme elegance and finesse. Bright crimson, and an enticing bouquet that does not disappoint on the palate; a lovely example of medium-bodied cool grown shiraz with a panoply of red and black cherry fruit, spice and silky tannins.
From Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Drink Now-2020 with Coq au vin
www.redhillestate.com.au

Thomas DJV Vineyard Selection Hunter Valley  Shiraz 2009
96 points, $30, Screwcap, 13.2% alc
Andrew Thomas is renowned for his semillons, but is also a master of shiraz. Bright colour; a fragrant bouquet leads into a silky, supple palate with a core of fresh red fruits, faintly savoury/earthy nuances on the periphery. Totally seductive and delicious now, but with a great future.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink Now-2029 with Slow-cooked beef cheek
www.thomaswines.com.au

Head The Blonde Stonewell Shiraz Viognier 2009
97 points, $30, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Alex Head is a new star in the firmament; this crimson-purple wine has an alluring bouquet of red and black berries complexed by nuances of warm spice and pepper, all of which come through on the medium-bodied palate; persistent, ultra-fine tannins provide great texture, structure, and length.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink Now-2024 with Moroccan spiced lamb
www.headwines.com.au

Saracen Estates Margaret River Shiraz 2008
96 points, $35, Screwcap, 14.4% alc
Saracen has it all: 17 ha of estate vineyards; a wine education centre with cellar door, restaurant, craft brewery, and Bob Cartwright as consultant winemaker. Healthy crimson; has a highly fragrant bouquet of spiced plum and black cherry fruit which is replayed on the seductive medium-bodied palate, where fine, spicy tannins provide texture and structure; excellent overall length and balance.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink 2013-2028 with Osso bucco
www.saracenestates.com.au

Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
96 points, $42, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Turkey Flat and Wendouree are two of my favourite wineries, compromise not in their dictionary, and modest prices. This has a bouquet with same allure as a great pinot, drawing you back again repeatedly before you taste the wine; Turkey Flat nailed the '08 vintage, capturing all of its luscious black fruits without a scintilla of jam or confection; the texture of the ripe tannins is perfect, as is the oak balance.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink 2015-2030 with Kangaroo fillet
www.turkeyflat.com.au

John Duval Entity Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008
96 points, $48, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
For those who genuinely picked before the heat, the vintage was excellent, and former Grange winemaker John Duval needed no prompting. Intense, dark purple-crimson; a highly expressive and complex bouquet of black fruits, licorice and oak is followed by a full-bodied palate that is savoury rather than jammy, notes of dark chocolate joining the black fruits.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink 2015-2035 with Rump of grain-fed beef
www.johnduvalwines.com

Tintara Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006
97 points, $52, Cork, 14% alc
It is anyone’s guess what will happen to this label in the wake of Constellation’s downsizing of the once proud Hardys business. Strong colour; it has a very complex bouquet of black fruits, polished leather and licorice, the medium- to full-bodied palate providing an instant replay, with plum, fruit cakey oak and dark chocolate joining in the chorus. Great regional wine from a great vintage.
From McLaren Vale, SA
Drink 2013-2035 with Venison with red wine jus
www.tintara.com.au

Lindemans Limestone Ridge Vineyard Shiraz Cabernet 2008
96 points, $55, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Brett Sharpe made three superb Coonawarras in ’08, this joined by Pyrus and St George on near equal footing. Its colour is still deep; a particularly luscious and rich wine, flush with blackcurrant, blackberry and licorice fruit, the full-bodied palate weaving positive oak (18 months in mainly new American oak) and ripe tannins into its excellent texture.
From Coonawarra, SA
Drink 2015-2030 with Roast beef and mushroom sauce
www.lindemans.com

Pokolbin Estate Reserve Hunter Valley Shiraz 2007
97 points, $60, Screwcap, 14.4% alc
Andrew Thomas shows that charity doesn’t always start at home, for he makes the Pokolbin Estate wines. Still brightly coloured, this will rival the O’Shea for longevity; it has a deep well of varietal fruit with great structure and texture, the back-palate juiciness of the red and black cherry fruit that lifts the wine to the heights, and underpins its line and length.
From Hunter Valley, NSW
Drink 2012-2040 with Best cut Wagyu beef
www.pokolbinestate.com.au

McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz 2007
96 points, $65, Screwcap, 14.8% alc
I’m sure that Maurice O'Shea would be proud of this wine, crafted from the same vineyards that he had at his disposal in 1925. It is quintessential Hunter shiraz from a very good vintage, a magical combination of power and elegance, its black fruits with that regional overlay of earth, leather and mineral which will soften into a luminescent spicy core thirty years hence.
Drink 2015-2035 with Braised rabbit with herbs and garlic
www.mcwilliamswinegroup.com

Yalumba Single Site Bartholomaeous Vineyad Eden Valley Shiraz 2006
97 points, $80, Cork, 14.5% alc
The best of the three truly excellent single vineyard offerings from Yalumba that made their debut in 2006. It has great, dark crimson colour, and is an effortless wine from start to finish, no more than medium-bodied, yet packed with flavour. The bouquet runs through red and black fruit, the savoury tannins seamlessly woven through that fruit on the palate, all supported by integrated oak.
From Eden Valley, SA
Drink Now-2025 with Grilled Porterhouse
www.yalumba.com

Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2009
97 points, $100, Screwcap, 14% alc
Winemaker/proprietor Tim Kirk was the first person to systematically explore the co-fermentation of shiraz and viognier in Australia, using Cote Rotie as his yardstick. This vividly coloured wine brings a glorious combination of multi-spice, red cherry, black cherry, superfine tannins and quality French oak to the bouquet and wonderfully long palate alike. Sheer, absolute hedonism.
From Canberra District, NSW
Drink Now-2025 with Irish stew
www.clonakilla.com.au

Penfolds Grange 2005
97 points, $650 , % alc
At last I have been able to update the tasting note I made at the Rewards of Patience in September ’07, used in the 2011 Wine Companion. In typical Grange fashion, has remarkable retention of colour, a glorious bouquet, with a complex array of black fruits, bramble and licorice; the palate has, if anything, tightened up, the tannins quite evident, although by no means threatening; nice savoury twist.
From Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Magill, SA
Drink Now-2045 with Bistecca Fiorentina
www.penfolds.com


Cabernet Sauvignon and blends: The disproportionate number of Western Australian wines is in part a refection of their excellent vintages of 2005, ’07 and ’08. Only in ’06 did the fortunes break the other way, wet in the west, and superb in the east.


Ashbrook Estate Margaret River Cabernet Merlot Cabernet Franc 2005
95 points, $29, Screwcap, 14% alc
All of Ashbrook’s wines are elegant, understated – refined may be a better term – and underpriced. Clear red colour, consistent with age; delicious medium-bodied wine, with a seamless fusion of red and black fruits, quality oak and fine, almost silky, tannins. A great illustration of the merits of screwcaps for red wines; while it is ready to drink now, it will cruise through to the end of this decade.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now-2020 with Lamb casserole
www.ashbrookwines.com.au

Ferngrove Majestic Frankland River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
96 points, $29.95, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Majestic is the common name of the ground orchid once reproduced in elegant colour on the label, but no more. At the price, one shouldn’t complain, I suppose. Has excellent regional/terroir typicity with fragrant blackcurrant fruit that comes through strongly on the full-bodied palate, which has absorbed 20 months in new French oak; the tannins are also balanced and integrated.
From Frankland River, WA
Drink 2015-2030 with Cabernet-marinated beef
www.ferngrove.com.au

Xanadu Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
96 points, $35, Screwcap, 14% alc
The ferments are split, 35% given extended fermentation on skins, the other pressed at or before dryness; the wine is matured in 40% new French oak. It offers a complex, fragrant bouquet of dark berries and quality oak, the layered medium- to full-bodied palate ranging further afield with mulberry and plum coming into the picture, the texture built around fine, ripe cedary tannins.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink 2013-2023 with Char grilled rump steak
www.xanaduwines.com

Pierro Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot LTCf 2008
95 points, $38, Screwcap, 14% alc
The LTCf is da Vinci code for ‘a little touch of cabernet franc’ to accompany the 54% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot and 2% petit verdot. Crystal clear crimson-red; an elegant and sophisticated wine, no more than medium-bodied, but with excellent texture and structure to its panoply of cassis and blackcurrant fruit; quality French oak and fine tannins add to the appeal of the wine.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now-2023 with Roast saltbush lamb
www.pierro.com.au

Sandalford Estate Reserve Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
96 points, $39.95, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
The ’08 Prendiville Reserve of Sandalford is the better wine, but at $90 looks expensive compared to this, which has some Bordeaux-like savoury, bramble characters. Good colour; a classic cabernet in every sense of the term, all about texture, structure and length, rather than opulence, weight and extract/oak; the flavours are at the optimum point of ripeness, the tannins likewise.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink 2015-2030 with Herbed rack of lamb
www.sandalford.com

Yalumba The Signature Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2006
96 points, $46.95, Cork, 13.5% alc
Matured for 22 months in American, French and Hungarian barrels coopered at Yalumba. Provides a journey based on grace, elegance and purity; fresh, vibrant and largely unevolved, the potent black-berried fruit is pure and poised, and the tannins are silky and fine; the vibrancy of the fruit core is electric, as is the persistence of the finish.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink 2015-2030 with Rare roast beef
www.yalumba.com

Houghton Gladstones Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
97 points, $70, Cork, 14% alc
This is the best Margaret River cabernet in the Houghton stable each vintage, and – given its age and quality – is a bargain. Very good colour, still crimson and youthful; a glorious bouquet of perfectly ripened cabernet sauvignon a la Margaret River, then a complex and concentrated full-bodied palate, its luscious blackcurrant fruit balanced by firm tannins, oak a garland.
From Swan Valley, WA
Drink 2015-2025 with Game pie
www.houghton-wines.com.au

Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
97 points, $90, ProCork, 14.5% alc
The major part of the wine finishes its fermentation in barrel, a lesser proportion is given extended maceration on skins; both parcels spend 20 months in new French oak. Vivid crimson-purple; like a rich little boy, has everything he wishes; it has a fragrant dark berry bouquet with abundant French oak, leather and spice, then a full-bodied, yet supple palate, with a dazzling array of flavours.
From Coonawarra, SA
Drink 2018-2038 with Beef Bordelaise
www.balnaves.com.au

Cullen Diana Madeline 2008
96 points, $105, Screwcap, 12.5% alc
This cabernet-dominant blend was picked at precisely the point Vanya Cullen decided the grapes — and in particular the tannins — had reached optimum ripeness. A sophisticated mistral blower on a sorting table removing leaf fragments and infertile berries, and a return to a basket press, have all combined to produce an extremely refined and elegant wine that is quite different to some of the earlier vintages.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink 2013-2023 with Braised lamb shanks
www.cullenwines.com.au


Other reds: What may be seen by some as a purely token selection from a field of many new varieties, tempranillo the most obvious candidate for the future, nebbiolo starting to gain traction.


Coriole McLaren Vale Sangiovese 2009
95 points, $22, Screwcap, 14% alc
Coriole was the pioneer of sangiovese in this country, first planted in 1985, its accumulated experience paying off in this bargain-priced wine. Bright colour; a complex bouquet of cherry, sour cherry and plum, flows through on to the elegant, light- to medium-bodied palate; here the fruit flavours and savoury tannins coalesce, the finish long and convincing.
From McLaren Vale, SA
Drink Now-2019 with Italian-style lamb’s fry
www.coriole.com

Teusner The Dog Strangler 2009
96 points, $25, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
The name is one of 60 or so synonyms for mourvedre, the French ‘estrangle chien’ (as the back label explains). The great colour introduces a beautifully made wine, with delicious red and black fruits to the fore on the supple, medium-bodied palate, and none of the harsh tannins one often encounters with this variety. Kept the excellent Turkey Flat Mourvedre off the final list.
From Barossa Valley, SA
Drink 2013-2023 with Ox kidney roasted in caul
www.teusner.com.au

Chalice Bridge Estate Margaret River Merlot 2007
95 points, $25.95, Screwcap, 14.5% alc
Chalice Bridge has the second-largest estate vineyard in Margaret River, and ex Leeuwin veteran Bob Cartwright as its consultant winemaker; this skilfully made wine comes from 7.5 ha of estate vines. Bright crimson; it has an aromatic bouquet with small berry fruit, plum and a nice touch of black olive; fine, gently savoury tannins click in on the palate which has excellent varietal expression and mouthfeel.
From Margaret River, WA
Drink Now-2020 with Roast saltbush lamb
www.chalicebridge.com.au
 

Over $20 Reds The most unlucky misses:

Rose Rating Price
Wills Domain Margaret River 2010 94 $21.50
Port Phillip Estate Salasso Mornington Peninsula Dry 2010 94 $22
SC Pannell McLaren Vale Arido 2010 94 $22
De Bortoli Estate Grown Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2010 95 $24
Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir 2010 95 $24.95
Pinot Noir Rating Price
Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills 2009 94 $29
Stoney Rise 2009 95 $29
Castle Rock Estate Great Southern 2009 95 $32
`ese Vineyards 2008 95 $35
Romney Park Adelaide Hills 2008 96 $39
Montalto Mornington Peninsula 2009 96 $45
Tower Estate Panorama Vineyard Tasmania 2009 96 $50
Moorooduc Estate The Moorooduc 2008 96 $55
Stefano Lubiana Estate 2008 96 $55
Yabby Lake Vineyard Mornington Peninsula 2008 96 $58
Ocean Eight Vineyard Aylward 2007 96 $65
Paringa Estate Reserve Special Barrel Selection 2007 96 $90
Stefano Lubiana Sasso 2008 96 $95
Shiraz and blends Rating Price
Were Estate Margaret River Shiraz 2009 95 $22
Teusner The Independent Barossa Valley Shiraz Mataro 2009 94 $22
O’Leary Walker Clare Valley McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008 95 $23
Balnaves of Coonawarra Shiraz 2008 95 $24
Nova Vita Firebird Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2008 95 $25
Castle Rock Estate Great Southern Shiraz 2008 95 $30
Penny’s Hill The Skeleton Key McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008 95 $30
Goona Warra Vineyard Sunbury Shiraz 2008 96 $32
Granite Hills Knight Macedon Ranges Shiraz 2004 95 $32
Teusner Avatar 2008 96 $32
Greenstone Vineyard Heathcote Shiraz 2007 95 $33
Domaine Chandon Heathcote Shiraz 2008 95 $33.95
Flynns MC Heathcote Shiraz 2008 95 $35
Lethbridge Geelong Shiraz 2008 96 $35
Pepper Tree The Gravels Reserve Wrattonbully Shiraz Viognier 2008 96 $35
Seabrook The Merchant Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008 96 $35
Tower Estate Hunter Valley Shiraz 2009 96 $35
Romney Park Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2008 96 $36
Cape Barren Blewitt Springs Vineyard Old Vine Reserve Shiraz 2007 96 $37.95
John Duval Plexus Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2008 95 $38
Grant Burge The Holy Trinity Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2005 96 $39.95
Craiglee Sunbury Shiraz Viognier 2008 96 $40
De Iuliis Steven Vineyard Hunter Valley Shiraz 2009 96 $40
Howard Park Scotsdale Great Southern Shiraz 2008 95 $40
Tollana Brian and Julie Hurse Vineyard Bin TR568 Bendigo Shiraz 2008 96 $40
First Creek Winemaker’s Reserve Hunter Valley Shiraz 2009 95 $42
Fox Gordon Hannah’s Swing Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008 96 $44.95
Cape Mentelle Shiraz 2008 96 $45
Clonakilla O’Riada Canberra District Shiraz 2009 96 $45
Craiglee Sunbury Shiraz 2008 96 $45
Paradise IV Moorabool Estate Dardel Geelong Shiraz 2009 95 $45
Pepper Tree Coquun Reserve Hunter Valley Shiraz 2009 96 $45
Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2008 95 $48
Philip Shaw No 89 Orange Shiraz Viognier 2008 96 $48
T’Gallant Odysseus 2008 95 $49.95
Summerfield Reserve Shiraz 2008 96 $50
Glenguin Estate Aristea Hunter Valley Shiraz 2007 96 $54
De Bortoli Reserve Release Yarra Valley Syrah 2008 96 $57
Tintilla Patriarch Hunter Valley Syrah 2007 96 $60
Woodstock The Stocks Single Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007 96 $60
Shiraz by Farr 2008 96 $62.90
Wirra Wirra RSW McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008 96 $65
Maverick Trial Hill Eden Valley Shiraz 2006 96 $70
Meerea Park Alexander Munro Individual Vineyard Shiraz 2007 96 $70
Bird In Hand Nest Egg Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2008 96 $75
Dalwhinnie Southwest Rocks Shiraz 2008 96 $75
Hentley Farm The Beast Shiraz 2008 96 $75
Mount Langi Ghiran Vineyards Langi Grampians Shiraz 2007 96 $75
Saltram No. 1 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006 96 $78
Henschke Tappa Pass Shiraz 2007 95 $80
Kilikanoon M Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2006 96 $80
Mitolo Savitar McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006 96 $80
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2006 96 $89.95
Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2006 96 $99.95
Hardys Eileen Hardy Shiraz 2004 97 $110
Dominique Portet Andre Shiraz Cabernet 2006 96 $120
Geoff Merrill Henley McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 96 $150
Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz 2006 96 $220
Merlot, etc Rating Price
Lenton Brae Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2009 94 $24
Philip Shaw No 17 Orange Merlot Cabernet Franc Cabernet 2008 95 $25
Brookland Valley Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2008 95 $45
Petaluma Coonawarra Merlot 2006 96 $50
Voyager Estate Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2005 96 $60
Primo Estate Joseph Moda McLaren Vale Cabernet Merlot 2008 96 $65
Stella Bella Serie Luminosa Margaret River Merlot 2007 96 $75
Wantirna Estate Amelia Yarra Valley Cabernet Merlot 2008 95 $75
Cabernet Sauvignon and blends Rating Price
Duke’s Vineyard Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 94 $22
Gemtree Vineyards The Phantom Red Blend 1 2009 94 $22
Pirramimma McLaren Vale Cabernet Petit Verdot 2007 94 $25
Clairault Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 95 $27
Primo Estate Zamberlan McLaren Vale Cabernet Sangiovese 2008 94 $28
Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 95 $30
De Bortoli Melba Lucia Yarra Valley Cabernet Sangiovese 2007 95 $31
St Huberts Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 95 $33
Wynns Coonawarra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 94 $34
Grant Burge Corryton Park Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 95 $34.95
Barwick The Collectables Blackwood Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 95 $35
De Bortoli Estate Grown Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 95 $35
Duke’s Vineyard Magpie Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 95 $35
Lake Breeze Arthur’s Reserve Cabernet Petit Verdot Malbec 2006 95 $35
Pepper Tree Calcare Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 96 $35
Vasse Felix Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 95 $38
Hay Shed Hill Block 2 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 96 $50
Lindemans St George Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 96 $55
Lindemans Pyrus 2008 96 $55
De Bortoli Melba Reserve 2007 96 $60
Neagles Rock One Black Dog Reserve Cabernet Shiraz 2006 95 $60
Saracen Estates Reserve Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 96 $60
Brookland Valley Reserve Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 96 $63
Majella The Malleea 2008 95 $72
Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 96 $85
Sandalford 6 Reserve Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 96 $90
Houghton Jack Man Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 97 $105
Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Shiraz Malbec 2006 96 $130
Other Rating Price
Chapel Hill Bush Vine Grenache 2008 95 $30
Mount Majura Vineyard Canberra District Tempranillo 2009 95 $35
Redgate Margaret River Cabernet Franc 2008 95 $40

Australian Sparkling

86 wines submitted
17 shortlisted
8 selected

The same question comes up every year: are the points for the Champagnes comparable for those of the Australian sparkling wines, and the answer is no, they are not. Nor would points for great red Burgundies compare with those for Australian and New Zealand pinot noirs, First Growth Bordeauxs with Margaret River cabernet merlots. Points are as subjective as the words in the tasting notes, but are a separate way of expressing the taster’s opinion, to be assimilated along with the description of the wine in the context of the particular tasting. All this may frustrate some consumers, but the ultimate reality is that Australia can never make Champagne, a Burgundy or a Bordeaux, so direct points comparison is fraught with contradictions and qualifications. It’s the old apples versus oranges paradigm.



Brown Brothers King Valley Pinot Noir Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier NV
95 points, $23.50, Cork, 12.5% alc
Specifically states ‘fermented in this bottle’. It won the trophy for Best Sparkling Wine at the National Wine Show ’09, plus four golds. Bright straw-green, it has a gently perfumed bouquet, then a complex but finely balanced palate, with creamy/bready yeast lees notes woven through apple and stone fruit flavours. The blend is 53%/27%/20%, half coming from Brown Brothers’ high altitude Whitlands vineyard.
www.brownbrothers.com.au

Cassegrain Edition Noir Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV
93 points, $28, Cork, 12.5% alc
Likewise, ‘fermented in this bottle’. It is a pioneer blend from New England Australia (to give this new GI its full name) in the far north of NSW and Tumbarumba in the far south of NSW, with a strong thumbprint of the latter region. It has good biscuity/creamy texture and structure for the range of citrus, apple and strawberry fruit, and excellent length and persistence.
www.cassegrainwines.com.au

Domaine Chandon Vintage Brut 2007
94 points, $39.95, Cork, 12.5% alc
One of a number of Domaine Chandon sparklings to impress, and once again ‘fermented in this bottle’. It is crafted from over 35 different base wine parcels of chardonnay and pinot noir, and aged on yeast lees for over 30 months. With good mousse and bright straw-green colour, it has particular elegance and finesse to its bundle of apple and stone fruit flavours, the finish long and cleansing.
www.chandon.com.au

Jansz Tasmania Premium Vintage Cuvee 2005
95 points, $39.95, Cork, 12.5% alc
Bottle-fermented, the base wine is a blend of 51% chardonnay and 49% pinot coming from multiple Tasmanian vineyard sites. It spent five years on yeast lees before being disgorged, and combines elegance and complexity. The brioche/cracked yeast/cashew flavours have a creamy texture on entering the mouth before the fused assemblage of apple, stone fruit and strawberries (the last courtesy of pinot noir) drives through to the lingering finish.
www.jansztas.com

Petaluma Croser Late Disgorged Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2000
96 points, $50, Cork, 12.5% alc
A great demonstration of the power of extended time on yeast lees — here nine years — to take a very fine, linear but not textured wine onto another plane. It has the usual Croser 63% pinot noir and 37% chardonnay blend from the Adelaide Hills, but here the similarity to the wine when first released around seven years ago stops. It is now bright gold-green, the bouquet as complex as the palate is amazingly fine and fresh; if any dosage was used, it must have been minimal. Lovely wine. www.petaluma.com.au

House of Arras Grand Vintage 2003
97 points, $70, Cork, 12.5% alc
The blend of chardonnay and pinot noir is 100% Tasmanian from a number of vineyard sites. The usual hand picking and whole bunch pressing of the best sparkling wines was practised, and only free-run juice was used. The parcels are separately fermented and taken through malolactic fermentation on lees. Pale straw-green; an exceptionally elegant, yet intense, wine that effortlessly displays its full suite of almost juicy fruit woven through spice/brioche/almond/cream notes; has utterly immaculate balance.
www.bayoffireswines.com.au

Primo Estate Joseph Sparkling Red NV
96 points, $70, Cork, 13.5% alc
The word unique (like passion) is used so much I avoid it wherever I can, but it has to be used to describe this wine with its base of decanted museum red wines dating back over 40 years, a hogshead of Primo Estate Shiraz added every year since 1989, and a hogshead of Joseph Moda Cabernet Merlot every year since 1991, meaning an annual bottling of only two hogsheads or 800 bottles. As ever, very complex; as ever, very well balanced and long with cedar, spice and the different flavour from the cabernet merlot barrel added each year. Disgorged June '09.
www.primoestate.com.au

House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 1998
98 points, $190, Cork, % alc
This wine takes up where the ’03 Arras Grand Vintage leaves off. Originally tasted in September ’09 (Tasmanian Wine Show trophy) and finally September ’10. While the time on lees hasn’t changed, the extra time on cork has taken an already superlative wine onto another level. The Australian sparkling wines were tasted a day after the Champagnes, and the similarity of character (texture most importantly) to the better Champagnes was even more pronounced than in earlier tastings. While exceptionally intense, it also has extraordinary, almost airy, finesse. Surely the best sparkling wine ever made in Australia, hence the points.
www.bayoffireswines.com.au

Australian Sparkling The most unlucky misses: Rating Price
Charles Sturt University Limited Release Orange Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2007 90 $19.80
Jansz Tasmania Premium Non Vintage Cuvee NV 94 $25.95
Bay of Fires Tasmanian Cuvee Brut Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV 94 $33
Petaluma Croser NV 94 $35
Mount William Jorja-Alexis Pinot Rose 2003 95 $40
Clover Hill Cuvee Exceptionelle Blance de Blancs 2006 95 $55
Stefano Lubiana Vintage Brut 2003 95 $52
Hardys Sir James Tumbarumba 2000 95 $54
Mount William Special Late Disgorged Macedeon Blanc de Blancs 1998 97 $80

Champagne

59 wines submitted 
38 shortlisted
12 selected

The GFC spelt big trouble for Champagne in 2009, with most Houses shipping significantly lower volumes than those of 2008. The biggest of all, Moet et Chandon, saw its shipments fall from 4.5 million to 2.2 million cases, a decline of 51%. Its sister, Veuve Clicquot, a clear second in size after Moet, suffered less spectacularly than Moet, losing 16% as sales fell from 1.68 million to 1.41 million cases. Six of the remaining ten top Houses also suffered falls of up to 33% (eg Pommery).

Two Houses bucked the trend, Laurent Perrier rising 24% to 485 000 cases, for no obvious reason other than a few gimmicks (one a bottle holder for pouring its Grand Siecle) and Lanson surging 68% to 500 000 cases. Here the reason is clear: it has been holding a series of glittering events celebrating its 250th birthday. I received an invitation to one of the feature events, but sadly no plane ticket.

I don’t for one moment think the fall spells medium-term problems and certainly no long-term problems for Champagne. But for the time being, it has put a cap on ex-cellar prices, and the strong Australian dollar will likely lead to price-pushed promotional deals in Australia. And, as I have said before, even the prices for the most expensive offerings pale into insignificance compared to those of their direct counterparts, First Growth Bordeauxs and Grand Cru Burgundies.


Ayala Zero Dosage Brut Nature NV
93 points, $99
Laurent Perrier was producing a Grand Vin Sans Sucre 120 years ago, so the idea of using no sweetening (zero dosage or ‘sans sucre’) is nothing new. But it does require long ageing on lees for the wine to build enough richness and complexity to make the addition of sugar irrelevantwhen the wine is disgorged . This wine has zesty citrus (lemon and lime) fruit over a mineral base that drives a crisp and lively palate (ideal for oysters) which isn’t especially complex, but is long and well-balanced. Ayala was a Grand Marque, but in relative obscurity until purchased by Bollinger in 2005.
Imported by Fine Wine Partners
www.finewinepartners.com.au

Pol Roger Brut 2000
94 points, $110
Provoked a major argument with myself about the merits and value for money of this wine versus the Pol Roger Brut reserve at $85. But hey, a great producer (one of Australia’s favourites) and a ten-year-old Champagne: forget the argument. The complex bouquet has brioche, cracked yeast and some dried fruit/aldehydes aromas, the palate with power and depth right through to the finish. An equal blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.
Imported by Samuel Smith & Son
www.samsmith.com

Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2002
95 points, $120
Tom Stevenson comments ‘As every aficionado knows, this is one of the best-bargain vintage Champagnes on the market.’ It is a reflection of a company that can produce more Dom Perignon than the total production of many well known Houses. Pinot noir (45%) and pinot noir (15%) are at the front end, chardonnay (40%) at the back end. The perfumed bouquet has apple blossom, pear and wild herb flowers, the long and complex palate with fresh fruit flavours woven through rich and creamy/bready characters; the long, lingering finish has true gravitas.
Imported by Moet-Hennessy
Contact Georgia Macmillan, MP Agency: georgia@mpagency.com.au

Charles Heidsieck Rose Brut Reserve NV
95 points, $127
The trials and tribulations that followed Heidsieck’s 1997 decision to introduce a ‘Mis en Cave’ label which was a halfway house to vintage, compounded when not only specifying the tirage date (the year following vintage) but also the disgorgement date were an object lesson in fixing something that was not broken. The fix has since been abandoned, the quality of the wines at no stage faltering. Pinot noir and pinot meunier provide well over 60% of this wine, with crushed red berry aromas, and the distinctive silky richness of the House style. A lovely wine.
Imported by Suntory
Contact Kristy Officer: kofficer@suntory.com.au

Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2002
95 points, $132
The brand recognition of Veuve is every bit as strong as that of Moet, and it has always had its own highly successful marketing strategies in Australia, and — I assume  — elsewhere. Noted for the richness and creaminess of this two-thirds pinot noir, one-third chardonnay blend, this is presently on the elegant side, but will fill out with more time in bottle. The bright straw-green colour and fragrant bouquet announce a very long citrus and apple palate, with touches of biscuit on the extended finish. Reputation and quality combine to make this wine a bargain.
Imported by Moet-Hennessy
Contact Georgia Macmillan, MP Agency: georgia@mpagency.com.au

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut NV
95 points, $150
Rose were for long regarded as the illegitimate offspring of Champagne, recipients of coarse, heavy pressings wines partially masked by high dosage levels. Today they are routinely priced above ‘normal’ NV (or vintage) blends and are carefully made. Whether they really merit the premium is irrelevant: the market has spoken. But Laurent-Perrier is a special case: this is 100% pinot noir, rather than a blend coloured by pinot noir red wine. The full salmon colour is an immediate indication of its provenance, the bouquet complex and alluring, leading directly into the cherry and strawberry flavours of the long, sustained palate; excellent finish and aftertaste.
Imported by Nelson Wine Company
www.nelsonwineco.com.au

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Brut 2002
96 points, $300
The enamelled bottle was designed in 1902 by Emile Gallet [Google says Gallé] to celebrate the gay nineties, but lay forgotten until 1964, when it was used for a cuvee exclusive to the celebrated restaurant Maxims. Today it is routinely pressed into posthumous service as a lamp or candle stand , unfortunate if it disguises the consistently great quality of the wine, based on 50% chardonnay from Cramant, plus 45% pinot noir and 5% pinot meunier. Glorious, bright straw-green colour announces vibrantly fresh citrus zest and pith aromas and flavours with a core of acidity that will come into its own as the wine ages and gains richness over the next ten or more years.
Imported by Pernod-Ricard Australia
Contact Jeanine Bribosia, Cru Media: jeanine@thecrumedia.com

Dom Perignon 2002
96 points, $310
What a shock to find this magnificent champagne priced in a thicket of wines priced between $300 and $350. As is say in the introduction to this section, champagne is doing it tough in its export markets, but this is not just Dom, but a very good vintage. The political sunshine much mooted in Australia might point to the large volume of Dom made each declared vintage, and the handsome bottom line as a explanation. Whatever, the gleaming straw-green colour and fine mousse presages as supremely elegant wine, with white flowers, citrus, mandarin and dried fruits, akin to violets not trumpets and big base drums.
Imported by Moet-Hennessy
Contact Georgia Macmillan, MP Agency: georgia@mpagency.com.au

Dom Ruinart Brut 1998
96 points, $320
This is a 100% chardonnay from a suite of great Grand Cru vineyards, although for some inscrutable reason, the distinctive label no longer specifies that is indeed a Blanc de Blancs. It was the leader of an impressive quartet opening with NV Brut ($105), NV Blanc de Blancs and NV Rose (both $125). Its brilliant, gleaming colour leads into a magical combination of finesse and power, the succulent nectarine and citrus fruit with great purity and length, giving just a hint of the bready/toasty/nutty characters that will develop with more time in bottle.
Imported by Moet-Hennessy
Contact Georgia Macmillan, MP Agency: georgia@mpagency.com.au

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1999
96 points, $320
Wine professionals who take pleasure in champagne instinctively reach for Comtes (as it is known for short) regardless of what other great wines may be on offer. If you have either ’95 or ’96 Comtes count yourself doubly fortunate, and drink them at your leisure over the next five or so years. This ’99 has reached UK-based champagne guru Tom Stevenson’s 10 to 15 years window of optimal drinking, with aromas of white flowers and citrus blossom, the juicy/silky palate with a touch of brioche and an extremely long, fine finish.
Imported by McWilliam’s Wines
Contact Simone Bannister: sbannister@mcwilliamswines.com.au

Louis Roederer Cristal Brut NV
96 points, $375
Cristal is made exclusively from the best of Roederer’s own Grand Cru vineyards, with a blend of 55% pinot noir and 45% chardonnay, 20% being matured in old oak casks, but no malolactic fermentation. It spends five years in bottle prior to disgorgement. The ’04 vintage is generally notes for its high acidity and purity, the best since ’96. Pale straw-yellow, the wine has a mix of light toast and more flowery components on the bouquet, the palate with layers of nectarine and peach, grilled nut/dried fruit nuances, and a long, intense and very clean finish.
Imported by red+white
www.redandwhite.com.au

Krug Brut Rose NV
97 points, $679
The total production of Krug is (or until recently was) only 40 000 cases, the lion’s share to its non-vintage Grand Cuvee, the remainder split between Vintage, Clos de Mesnil, Rose and back-vintages under the Krug Collection banner, thus the Rose is a very rare wine. It typically has a higher percentage of pinot noir and pinot meunier than either Grand Cuvee or Vintage, and its salmon-pink colour comes from some of the pinot noir fermented on skins for a limited time. Its bouquet is reminiscent of a grandmother’s cupboard of dried flowers and a handful of spice, the effortless power of the palate brings strawberries and sour cherries into play, along with some nutty Christmas cake nuances.
Imported by Moet-Hennessy
Contact Georgia Macmillan, MP Agency: georgia@mpagency.com.au

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