Great wines aren't always the ones that win the trophies or receive the highest scores. More often than not, they're the wines that are enjoyable to drink, can please a group of people who have different tastes, come in at the right price-point and, ultimately, make you reach for a second glass.
For Halliday tasting team member Ned Goodwin MW, great wines are “poised, fresh, properly extracted to showcase real grape tannins, crafted with intelligence and courage, minimally messed with, largely mid-weight of feel, savoury, and most important, inimitably of region.”
Erin Larkin enjoyed choosing her 10 great reds because it allowed her to focus on those that are “wildly delicious, eminently drinkable, and expertly crafted to be dragged into the light”. As she says, these are wines that are “just under the lip of top scores, but affordable, collectable, findable and cellarable, too”.
For James Halliday, the wine selection process for this exercise was about spreading the net as far as possible, landing on five varieties from 10 different regions. “But no wine had an armchair ride; all the wines are high-scoring, reflecting their inherent quality”.
Halliday tasting team member Jeni Port says greatness lies in the eye of the beholder when it comes to wine.
Tyson Stelzer found that his chosen 10 great red wines fell evenly across his respective regions and a range of varieties, as well as producers large, medium and small. “Balanced vines make great wines, and this has been especially apparent in the extremes of drought across recent vintages,” he says.
As for Jeni Port, it’s all about the intangible. “The perception of greatness in a wine is personal; it’s a feeling, an impression, a sustained rock-your-world kind of moment, an epiphany, a meeting of a wine/time/place symbiosis. It is not related to price tags,” she says.
Choice is the real highlight right now when it comes to great wines, according to Tony Love. “There’s a red wine out there for every taste and occasion. The plethora of varieties is a thrill, so too the range of styles,” he says.Jane Faulkner agrees. “While quality is paramount, nothing delights more than diversity and difference,” she says. “It’s not about variety or styles – although often it is – but how a wine is crafted, and, especially, where it is from.”
For the August/September edition of Halliday magazine, each member of the team selected 10 great red wines. Below, we feature one wine from each panellist.
2020 Aylesbury Estate Q05 Ferguson Valley Gamay, $30
Strawberry, red licorice, fennel flower, camphor, ash and red frog lollies. There is enough spicy nuance to make this more interesting than the bright nose suggests, the tannins almost subliminally wedged into the fine structure. The acidity has a real edge and refreshing lift on the palate. This is firmly in the nouveau style, delivering pleasure and smiles all round. Everything about this is well put together: the packaging, the wine and the price. 14% alc. Erin Larkin
2019 Handpicked Collection Tasmania Pinot Noir, $60
From estate vineyards on either side of the Tamar Valley. Very good colour. The Tamar Valley produces pinot noir with more depth and power than any other Tasmanian district. This wine is a high-quality example, with mouth-coating satsuma plum and morello cherry fruit. Will richly repay prolonged cellaring. 13.5% alc. James Halliday
2020 Penley Estate Project E Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
I do dig these Project wines from Kate Goodman. Pushing the boundaries to see what happens. The colour is excellent, a bright crimson/garnet. Pure fruit aromas of cassis and the blackest plums with lots of dried herbs, black pepper and green peppercorns. Starts sweet-fruited on the medium-bodied palate, but those tannins, a touch drying, kick in on the finish. With rich fare, it comes into its own. 14% alc. Jane Faulkner
2020 Longview Fresco, $32
A light-hearted spring and summery red created from 80% Nebbiolo, 16% pinot (nero) and 4% barbera, fragrant with crushed berries, a smatter of spice in the palate and the finest of tannin pinches to handle similarly mindful snacking and pizzas and pasta. A great example of youthful, lighter-handled red wine that hits all the style and trend boxes. 14% alc. Tony Love
2020 The Story Super G Grampians Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre, $30
45/40/15% grenache/syrah/mourvèdre. A nod to the future stars of the Grampians, in addition to syrah. Complex, with the three varieties complimenting each other beautifully here. In keeping with the vibrancy of fruit and lifted, aromatic style of the maker. Plush red cherry, dark plum cake and violets combine forces with an earthy, dried herb and spicy intensity. It's a powerful mix, but understated. This wine is still in building mode. 13.5% alc. Jeni Port
2020 Bondar Higher Springs McLaren Vale Grenache, $45
A floral wine, beaming dried redcurrant, bergamot, rosewater, musk, sour cherry and thyme. The tannins, a levy of dried herb and white pepper. A bit sweet to be considered top drawer. But detailed and precise enough to syndicate a top maker. 14.4% alc. Ned Goodwin MW
2019 Boireann Granite Belt Shiraz, $75
Impeccable ripeness and fine-boned structure make this tiny production the best Queensland wine this year. Impressively full, vibrant purple hue. Dense, inky blackberry, blueberry and satsuma plum fruit, medium bodied and infused with the Granite Belt's cool acidity, completely belying its alcohol. Well-gauged dark chocolate oak leaves the show to top-class fruit, nuanced with black pepper. Fine, mineral tannins carry a long finish. 15% alc. Tyson Stelzer
This is an edited extract of an article from issue #60 of Halliday magazine.
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