This year the Tasting Team assessed more than 8000 wines for the new edition of the Halliday Wine Companion, landing on 3 August. How to decide what to buy from such an enormous list? Here’s a sneak peek of my personal top 20 – selected not according to points, rosettes, superlatives or value for money, but rather by the ultimate measure: wines that I actually purchased myself, in quantities of at least a dozen bottles. These are the wines I love drinking most, and which I pour all the time at my events alongside the benchmarks of the world – to showcase just how high Australia is flying right now!
There’s something in my list for everyone, from $30 riesling to $250 fizz. It's telling that almost everything here is priced between $50 and $100. This is the real sweet spot in Australian wine.
These are the wines I love drinking most... alongside the benchmarks of the world.
The style I purchased most this year was Tasmanian sparkling. This may come as a surprise, since I drink more Champagne than anything else. But Tasmania has refined its own inimitable style and hits a price point that makes it unique in the sparkling world. This year, the Tasmanian rosés I purchased were Bellebonne 2019, Apogee 2018 and Kreglinger 2017. My favourite Tasmanian blanc de blancs was Bellebonne 2015, my top white was Kreglinger Brut 2017 and the best late disgorged was Arras E.J. Carr 2006.
Chardonnay is the greatest white grape on earth bar none, and I adore white Burgundy – though scarcity, soaring prices and increasingly warm and pudgy vintages make it increasingly challenging to source the heroes. Chardonnay is one of my favourite categories in Australia, and this year Margaret River topped my shopping list, thanks to Xanadu Reserve 2020 and Stella Bella Luminosa 2020. Stefano Lubiana Collina 2019 was my favourite from Tasmania and Curly Flat 2020 and Oakridge 864 2020 my picks from Victoria.
The cool and classic 2021 vintage is my favourite for riesling since the legendary 2002, and this year I stocked up on Henschke Julius, Grosset Polish Hill, Leo Buring Leonay DWY17 and Best’s Foudre Ferment.
I drink pinot more than any other red, and while last year’s purchases hailed largely from Macedon, this year I’ve been enticed by the 2020 vintage in Tasmania – but only in the most sensitive of hands: Lowestoft La Maison, Pooley Estate Jack Denis and Tolpuddle.
Xanadu Reserve 2019 was the sole cabernet sauvignon on my list, which is hardly representative of my adoration for this distinguished variety – and only because last year I stocked up in earnest on Mount Mary Quintet, Grosset Gaia, Wynns John Riddoch, Yarra Yering Dry Red No 1 and the previous vintage of Xanadu Reserve!
Tyson Stelzer at the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Awards judging in March, 2022.