Wine Lists

Festive wine tips from those in the know

12 Dec, 2018

To coincide with James Halliday’s 80th birthday, we asked top wine people around the country to share a collective 80 wines for the festive season in Halliday magazine. Here, you can get a sneak peek at that list, with a selection that's spot on for the coming events.

Glass of wine and bowl of olives by pool


“Our family spends most Christmas Days by the pool, so it’s not really the time to be bogged down with a boozy shiraz. Focus on lightness and body, and something you can put in an ice bucket and chill down,” says Lyndon Kubis, co-owner of The Alps, Toorak Cellars and The Moon in Melbourne

Wines to try

2018 Rieslingfreak No. 3 Clare Valley Riesling, South Australia, $28
On a hot summer’s day, nothing is quite as refreshing as a glass of well-chilled Clare Valley riesling. ~ Mark Protheroe, wine consultant and co-owner of The Recreation in Melbourne.

2017 Schmölzer & Brown Beechworth Prêt-à-Rosé, Victoria, $28
What better to drink than rosé during summer? It’s a no-brainer. ~ Stuart Knox, sommelier and proprietor of Fix Wine in Sydney

Party sparklers


“I think everyone likes sparkling. It doesn’t matter what kind of party or event you’re going to, if you turn up with bubbles, generally everyone is pretty happy,” says Alice Chugg, sommelier and restaurant manager at Ettie’s in Hobart.

Wines to try

2018 La Violetta Great Southern Spunk Nat, Western Australia, $32
This pet-nat is such a bright expression of fruit, and so easy to drink, so it’s perfect for a party. ~ Emma Farrelly, director of wine at State Buildings in Perth. 

2017 Delinquente Wine Co Weeping Juan Riverland Petillant Naturel, South Australia, $25
Great for when you don’t want to break the bank, but you do want something fun to share – a crunchy, delicious wine. ~ Paul Huet, senior head sommelier at Fred’s in Sydney.

Friends sharing a bottle of Champagne


“Christmas can be a stressful time, so I think it’s important to focus on buying great wine and food to share with your family instead of presents that you may or may not need,” Emma Farrelly says.

Wines to try

2003 House of Arras E.J. Carr Late Disgorged, Tasmania, $199
Up there with some of the great sparkling wines of the world. At my Christmas lunch with family, we always have Champagne, and if I served this blind, it would blow them away to learn that it’s Australian. A game-changer. ~ Stuart Knox

NV Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé (375ml half-bottle), France, $55
I made it my Christmas morning tradition to have a decent half-bottle of Champagne and a ham sandwich. I now have small children, so it’s all about them, but it’s still nice to unwrap presents with a glass of Champagne in your hand. ~ Emma Farrelly

Festive meal with turkey and white wine


“Medium-bodied whites are versatile wines to have around, perfect with everything from an antipasto platter to a roast bird,” Mark Protheroe says.

Wines to try

2016 Jo Landron Loire Valley Muscadet-Sevre et Maine Cuvee La Louvetrie, France, $36
At an Aussie Christmas, there’s always a cooked or cold prawn, and muscadet is such an underrated grape variety that’s perfect for summer and with seafood. ~ Emma Farrelly

2015 Oakridge 864 Drive Block Yarra Valley Chardonnay, Victoria, $78
This chardonnay is not an overly rich style, but it’s got enough weight that it can pair with turkey, ham and smoked salmon. ~ Stuart Knox

2016 Weingut Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Nahe Kabinett Riesling, Germany, $50
A classic German riesling that’s great for lunch with pork on the table, providing a little sweetness and lot of acidity to cut through the fat. ~ Lyndon Kubis

2017 Sebastian Brunet Renaissance Loire Valley Vouvray Sec, France, $42
This Vouvray is wine to have with dinner as it demands food – it would be great with turkey. ~ Penny Grant, Ghanem Group sommelier for Blackbird and Donna Chang in Brisbane.

Wine wrapped to give as a gift


“I like giving wines that are ageworthy. A lot of my friends aren’t big wine drinkers, so I go for well-known names such as Grosset, Rockford and Henschke to make sure it’s special for them,” says Shaun Lau, head sommelier at Restaurant Orana in Adelaide. 

Wines to try

2015 Yarra Yering No. 1 Yarra Valley Red Blend, Victoria, $120
One of those classically beautiful Australian wines that you can drink now or age for decades. For gifting, I like to go for these kinds of high-quality Australian wines made by producers with amazing reputations. ~ Emma Farrelly 

2006 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon, New South Wales, $175
I love Hunter semillon. It’s not a wine people automatically go for, but if you presented a bottle of 12-year-old semillon from a great house like Tyrrell’s, and they opened it and didn’t like it, then perhaps wine is not their thing. ~ Stuart Knox

2016 Tolpuddle Coal River Valley Pinot Noir, Tasmania, $79
A highly perfumed and savoury pinot noir, with beautiful firm tannins that will see it age well: a gift any wine connoisseur will love. ~ Penny Grant

Friends clinking red wine glasses over table


“Lighter styles with the ability to chill in the Australian summer make sense. Over the warmer months, I like to have reds that can sit in the Esky,” Mark Protheroe says.

Wines to try

2016 CFRT Arranmore Vineyard Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir, South Australia, $39
This single-vineyard pinot noir is beautiful, pure and well balanced. For the price, I would drink it every day. ~ Paul Huet

2017 Terrason Yarra Valley Gamay, Victoria, $28
This gamay is fresh and particularly great with barbecues and cured meats. ~ Mark Protheroe

2016 I Fabbri Lamole Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy, $60
One of the freshest sangiovese wines around, with cherry blossoms, beautiful fruit and lovely tannins. It can pair with everything from pasta to prosciutto and barbecued meat, and you can pop it in the fridge and drink it at around 16°C. ~ Penny Grant

Glass of wine on coffee table with person on couch in the background


“The Australian Christmas is typically a long day with multiple events. Wines with lower alcohol will help you to last the distance,” Lyndon Kubis says.

Wines to try

2017 Pichler-Krutzler Loiben Riesling, Germany, $53
This riesling is super juicy and has amazing concentration with a hint of sweetness. It’s the kind of wine you can drink in the morning without food. ~ Emma Farrelly

2017 Pewsey Vale Prima Eden Valley Riesling, South Australia, $28
Low alcohol, high acid, off-dry and refreshing in style. It’s made from high-quality fruit by a fantastic winemaker and is something you can easily find. ~ Penny Grant

Get your copy of Halliday magazine for the full list.