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Three keys to great Australian wine

Publish Date: Not Available

Authored by: Brian Croser

Brian Croser is a legend of Australian wine and a trailblazer in his work to identify exceptional vineyards for particular varietals – one of his keys to selecting great wine.

I have used three criterion in my selection of these six wines, each significant to the evolution of Australia’s fine wine quality:

1) They each come from a distinguished site, the variety absolutely suited to the terroir,
2) They are each grown and made by vignerons committed to the incremental improvement of their vineyard and winemaking, which is a necessary pre-condition of great wine,
3) They are wines I have in my own cellar that have proven to grow in quality with bottle age.

Brian Croser's ultimate Aussie six-pack

1. 2011 Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon

From a classic Hunter Valley vintage that was slightly warmer and drier than the average. This wine is from a deep-sand old vineyard in front of the winery and has the toast, honey, lime and aromatic wax of the best developing Hunter Valley semillon. Its beautifully balanced flavour is supported by water rather than alcohol. This is a wonderful Australian wine, and the power of innovation has been employed to maintain and improve the style over time as the vineyard ages and the market changes.

RRP $105 | Hunter Valley | Tyrell's

2. 2015 Hill-Smith Estate Parish Vineyard Coal River Valley Riesling

Even though this is only the third vintage release of this wine, I have enjoyed each of the previous as much as any Australian riesling. There is no questioning the commitment of the producer, the suitability of the provenance to riesling and the ageing ability of the wines. An innovative wine for Tasmania and Australia, it is an austere, pristine and pure cool-climate riesling to match the best of Europe. I love its floral notes, water-supported flavours and dry, fresh finish. 

RRP $30 | Southern Tasmania | Hill-Smith Estate

3. 2013 Geoff Weaver Lenswood Chardonnay

No anorexic, early picked, artifact-laden chardonnay here. Fully ripe chardonnay grapes grown in an old vineyard planted in 1982 and only ever tended to by Geoff himself. Again, very moderate alcohol supports ripe fig and peach flavours with ripe texture. Beautifully balanced and poised, this is a credit to the credo of incremental improvement to the breed over a lifetime that has been Geoff’s mission. Lenswood and chardonnay are absolutely suited, and this wine is from a vintage that was much warmer and drier than the average, with only 150mm of rain for the growing season.

RRP $40 | Adelaide Hills | Geoff Weaver

4. 2009 Stonier Windmill Vineyard Pinot Noir

Brian Stonier planted the Windmill Vineyard on the volcanic red soils of Merricks in 1996 – a cool, maritime site absolutely suited to pinot noir. Mike Symons, who has gradually refined the viticulture and winemaking at Stonier over the past 15 years, made this wine. 2009 was just warmer than average at Merricks and much drier, with 240mm of rain for the growing season. Beautiful floral pinot noir varietal character is complemented by stalk spice, and the wine is at once delicate and ethereal but with core strength and significant tannins. The wine is a credit to all involved and has aged beautifully.

RRP $65 | Mornington Peninsula | Stonier Wines

5. 2014 Mount Langi Ghiran Vineyards Grampians Langi Shiraz

This vineyard at Mount Langi Ghiran was planted in 1963 and it is not an accident that the site is central to the Shiraz Terroir project being implemented by Wine Australia, or that it is the subject of studies involving rotundone (the source of shiraz pepper flavours). This wine evokes the best of the past – the Colin Preece Seppelt Great Western shiraz wines – but is also the result of consistent refinement to improve the breed and research to understand the environmental drivers of this unique terroir. Again, moderate alcohol supports intense, but not heavy, ripe shiraz flavours and texture. This is an impeccable Australian cool-climate shiraz to match any from anywhere else in world. The 2014 vintage was warmer than average and very dry, with only 150mm of rain for the growing season at Mount Langi Ghiran.

RRP $120 | Grampians | Mount Langi Ghiran Vineyards

6. 2014 Woodlands Cabernet Sauvignon

This distinguished vineyard was planted by the Watson family in the mid 1970s and has undergone two generations of incremental improvement. There are few terroirs better suited to cabernet sauvignon and its Bordeaux relatives than the Wilyabrup subregion of Margaret River. This wine has been given the full extractive treatment that only cabernet from the best sites can withstand. Regardless, the wine is refined while at the same time robust and intense, and will age for a very long time as its predecessors have proven. 2014 was a very warm and dry growing season in Margaret River. This wine ranks with the best of cabernet from the other great cabernet regions in the world.

RRP TBC | Margaret River | Woodlands

The Defining Australian Wine series is produced with thanks to our brand partner Winery Lane, an online marketplace designed to unite wine lovers with independent Australian winemakers. Click here to watch Winery Lane’s Stephen Mobbs tackle the topic of what makes an archetypally Aussie wine.

Halliday Wine Companion reviews are 100 per cent independent and recommendations published here reflect the opinions of the original authors. Unless content is labelled 'Sponsored', you can be assured that advertisers have no influence over what is included.

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