The definitive guide to Australian Wines
Each week James Halliday selects a standout wine from his recent tastings.
A 95/5% blend; named after Audrey Hepburn, a cat who often followed Chester Osborn around the winery, terrified of being forgotten. The unusual but meritorious nature of the wine is likely to be lost in the hubbub of the labels of this and its $200 Old Bloke sibling. This is a seriously interesting wine, which clears the savoury/tannin bar with some ease, although you wouldn't think so at the first sip. The perfect match for food, because it will simply want to make you eat more, not drink more.
14.3% alc. / RRP $200 / 2026 / d'Arenberg Wines
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Hand-picked from blocks planted ’71 (70%) and ’01 (30%), destemmed, whole berry sorted then crushed into open fermenters, cold soaked, fermented with 18 days on skins, matured for 15 months in Bordeaux oak, 775 dozen made. The epitome of top quality McLaren Vale cabernet in its inimitable style, generous, yet firmly structured, cassis, choc-mint, ripe tannins and integrated oak of high quality.
13.5% alc. / RRP $75 / 2038 / Clarendon Vineyard
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Picked over 1 month, hand-sorted, chilled to 5˚C, whole bunch-pressed, 90% cultured yeast, 10% wild, primary and mlf in French oak (50% new) with 12 months maturation and stirring. One of the Margaret River princes of chardonnay, with perfect balance and length, the suite of flavours so complex they border on savoury; the length is remarkable.
14% alc. / RRP $82 / 2023 / Pierro Wines
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Estate-grown, with 5% viognier co-fermented, matured in French oak (20% new) for 18 months. There's a lot of wine here for the money, the complex bouquet arresting and complex, with red and black fruits and multi-spices leading into a medium to full-bodied palate that is a three-dimensional replay of the bouquet, tannins and oak providing gravitas. Exceptional value.
14.4% alc. / RRP $24 / 2038 / Alkoomi Wines
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Hand-picked and destemmed, but not crushed, 20 days on skins, matured in French oak (15% new) for 10 months. Bright crimson hue; the bouquet sets the antennae waving, the gently savoury black cherry, plum and licorice fruit flavours show no sign of overripeness. In best pinot fashion, makes its presence felt in no uncertain fashion on the finish and aftertaste. Gold medal Tasmanian Wine Show ’15.
14% alc. / RRP $35 / 2021 / Milton Vineyard
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Fermented and matured in French oak for 12 months. Gleaming straw-green, it bursts with life and sparkling energy, the grapefruit/citrus rapier thrust on the palate ultimately parried by the underlying stone fruit and benison of subtle oak; the finish is gloriously fresh and long.
13% alc. / RRP $32 / 2025 / Stella Bella Wines
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Open-fermented, matured for 10 months in French oak. Bright, clear colour; a delicious medium-bodied wine, red fruits dominant, backed by fine tannins on a graceful palate. Has length that might escape the casual observer, and also its likely longevity. Despite this, the wine is already good to go, its modest alcohol a key.
13.5% alc. / RRP $35 / 2025 / Tinklers Vineyard
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Wines considered to offer special value for money.