Top 100 Wines by Year

Every year James Halliday selects his Top 100 wines from the many thousands he samples. Featuring wines of all varieties and at a range of prices, it's an invaluable guide to the very best of Australian wine. The Top 100 also includes an overview of the year in wine, looking at the major trends and the key issues facing grape growers and winemakers.

The Top 100 is first published in The Australian in November and is available on Wine Companion at the same time. Below are all of James' Top 100 wines, dating to 2001.

  • Top 100 wines of 2016

    The record number of wines this year increased my hand wringing as I sought to make choices between wines of near-identical entitlement. Last year’s clamour of red wines over $20 led to this year’s change to a $25 barrier in a partially successful attempt to even up the starting numbers for each group. The same change will need to be made for white wines next year.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2015

    I can say with absolute certainty that the Top 100 wines have a brighter future than those that have gone before. The biggest game changer has been Australia’s unhesitating adoption of the screwcap: over 95% of the 1242 table wines submitted for the tasting were sealed with screwcaps, including 99.8% of all white wines and 100% of under $20 red wines.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2014

    This year 1582 wines were submitted for the Top 100. Of the 80 table wines selected, 25 came from Western Australia, Margaret River contributing 17 of these; 20 came from Victoria, 12 from the Yarra Valley; South Australia contributed 19, evenly spread across its regions; the Hunter Valley produced nine of the New South Wales total of 13; and three came from Tasmania

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  • Top 100 wines of 2013

    The quality of the wines being sold on the domestic market has never been better. This is especially so once the downwards pressure on prices has been factored in. A number of strands are in play here. 

    First is the quality of the 2010 to 2013 vintages. I hear you cry what about the cool and wet 2011 harvest? Well, it produced outstanding chardonnays from the cool climate regions of eastern Australia, excellent riesling, and Hunter Valley semillon.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2012

    With a handful of exceptions, only the 244 wineries awarded five red stars in my annual Australian Wine Companion were invited to participate in the table wine and Australian sparkling section. The exceptions were wineries with a track record of producing very good wines sold for $20 or less.

    In the end, 1256 table wines, 74 Australian sparkling wines and 75 champagnes were submitted, a grand total of 1405.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2011

    I know I’m not going to get much sympathy when I say this year’s selection for the Top 100 was a marathon effort, with a record 1887 wines entered. The 7am to 7pm tasting day went on relentlessly and seemingly endlessly, with a short lunch break and one or two hours between 3pm and 5pm to deal with the mountain of emails and other writing deadlines. I have christened my desk the Bermuda Triangle, where all sorts of letters, email print outs, and other important pieces of paper mysteriously disappear.

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  • 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...

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  • 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.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2008

    The Australian wine industry continues to face a formidable array of challenges and uncertainties, some man-made, some the forces of nature, some within the power of winemakers to meet, some outside their control. Shortly put, they include the lengthening and severe drought (which may include an element of permanent climate change, but how much is anyone's guess)...

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  • Top 100 wines of 2007

    From feast to famine, from surplus to shortage: what a difference a year makes. Everywhere we turn, there are prophecies of doom driven by the ongoing drought, and the consequent parlous state of the Murray Darling water system. And they are prophecies which have to be taken very seriously.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2006

    Another year, another 10,000 or so wines, and another Top 100. It all sounds much the same, and in one sense it is, but the grape and wine glut has been capturing plenty of headlines. For winemakers it has not been a comfortable year; for some grapegrowers it has been disastrous. But then so is the prolonged drought for farmers and graziers in significant parts of Queensland and New South Wales, with a likely El Nino pointing to another hot, dry summer.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2005

    If, on looking through the wines I have chosen for this year's Top 100, you think I have been unduly kind, just remember these have come from a total field of over 10,000 wines. The pre-qualified process I necessarily employ to avert up to half of these arriving at already stretched resources means that 1233 crossed the starting line.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2004

    In my recently released 2005 Australian Wine Companion there were 377 new winery listings. The 2004 Companion had 240 new entries, the year before 180. It is a parabolic curve, and there is every indication it will continue through to next year at least. If an additional 400 wineries were to make their maiden appearance, it would mean 1200 have come into existence in the last four years, more than the total between 1840 and 2000.

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  • Top 100 wines of 2003

    Discover James' top 100 Australian wines taken from The Australian in 2003

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  • Top 100 wines of 2002

    Discover James' top 100 wines of 2002 taken from The Australian.

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