Halliday Wine Companion tasting team member Ned Goodwin shares a handful of wines that would have made his Top 100 of the year.
It is time for the annual barrage of lists exhorting the BEST films, exhibitions, restaurants and yes, wines.
These lists are ubiquitous and in their finest forms serve as vehicles for reflection. Most often they are an educated individual’s way of celebrating those whose efforts manifest as something stimulating and provocative – in the case of wine, liquids that are poised, digestible and of place.
James’s Top 100 is an informative compilation of his year’s greatest hits, but I have a few alternative standouts.
While some wines brim with intrinsic qualities such as complexity and ageability, destined to become classics, others are ephemeral in the way that they capture a fleeting moment and a fulcrum in our evolution as a wine culture. They are no less stimulating, delicious and worthy of attention.
Ned Goodwin’s Top Wines of 2017
2016 Sorrenberg Gamay
Subalpine, granitic gamay. When on form, this is among Australia’s most iconoclastic wines, capable of parrying alongside Beaujolais’ greatest. Five to eight years of age imparts compelling complexity. Sold out – the next vintage will be available in May 2018.
RRP $50 | Sorrenberg
2015 Castagna Genesis Syrah
Subalpine, granitic syrah. Beechworth, hooray! Detailed, slinky, fresh, mid-weighted and perfumed.
RRP $75 | Castagna
2016 Topper's Mountain Wild Ferment Petit Manseng
Tangerine crunch and effortless drinkability, this is far from the bang-in-bang-out innocuous nature of so many ‘alternative’ varietal expressions. This beams with class. This wine will be releasing in early 2018. If you can't wait, a small amount of the 2012 and 2013 vintages are still available.
RRP $34 | Topper's Mountain Wines
2015 Crittenden Estate Cri de Coeur Savagnin
Goosebump material! A chamomile- and curry-powder scented ode to Jura’s finest flor-driven wines (just a hell of a lot cleaner). Savagnin is more interesting than albariño (which it was mistakenly planted as), so let’s get on with making more wines like this. This wine won't be out until 2019, but the 2013 vintage is currently available.
RRP $80 | Crittenden Estate
Image credit: Different Drop
2015 Simão & Co Ugni Blanc
A glimpse into ugni’s long history in north-east Victoria, coaxed across assuaging phenolic pillars and tobacco pouch aromas that are, according to [winemaker] Simon, “quintessentially Rutherglen”. An incredibly versatile wine at the table.
RRP $29 | Simão & Co
2016 La Violetta Das Sakrileg Riesling
Far from the acerbic norm, this defies convention across its makeup: used oak, fermentation with ambient yeast, malolactic and zero filtration. The result is a wine that’s textural, with plenty of citrus brio and, despite its bracing freshness, that eases itself across the palate.
RRP $35 | La Violetta Wines
2015 Luke Lambert Nebbiolo
Benchmark Nebbiolo. Australian ripeness meets Piedmontese structure. Impeccably tuned, yet high on personality: like a new Alfa.
RRP $60 | Luke Lambert Wines
2016 Jauma ‘Genovese Vineyard’ Blewitt Springs Grenache
A natural ode to joy! Kirsch, briar, wood smoke and a giddy texture of pulpy extract, juicy acidity and spindly tannin. Hedonism meets intellectual rigour. Sold out – the next vintage will be available in May 2018.
RRP $55 | Jauma
*Due to the cult status of these wines, we'd advise getting on the mailing lists of those you're interested in so that you're informed of new releases first.
Next article: Intriguing whites for the warmer months.