The definitive guide to Australian Wines
Each week James Halliday selects a standout wine from his recent tastings.
A block on the Graveyard Vineyard, replanted in '02 with cuttings from the original vines, this the inaugural vintage. A mix of crushed/destemmed, with some whole berry and some whole bunch fermentation, matured in new and used French oak. If you doubt that earth can smell sweet, have a whiff of this; the full-bodied palate is crammed with black fruits, ripe tannins and some smart French oak, its drink-by date over the horizon.
14% alc. / RRP $75 / 2054 / Brokenwood
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Hand-picked, 25% whole bunches, 40% matured in stainless steel, the remainder in new and used French barriques for 9 months. Spun like a silk scarf from Rajasthan, the colours shifting endlessly, the cloth as light as a feather, yet warm on a cold night. Artistic skill of the highest order - and a steal (as in Rajasthan if you're on the spot).
13.5% alc. / RRP $25 / 2027 / Innocent Bystander
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From the King (80%) and Goulburn (20%) Valleys, picked and crushed at night, different parcels undergoing different treatments: mlf, fermented and matured in French oak, or extended time on yeast lees. Distinct pink tinge; this is a tour de force of winemaking, producing a wine full of interest from the first whiff to the last sip. Two questions arise: why is it called grigio, not gris? And why is it so cheap?
12.5% alc. / RRP $20 / 2017 / Dalfarras
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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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Wines considered to offer special value for money.