Each one of these wineries making its debut in the Wine Companion has earned a 5-star rating. They are thus the leaders of the 64 new wineries in this edition, although a number of other first-up wineries also achieved 5 stars. The ultimate selection criteria included the number of wines earning 95 points or above, and also value for money.
BEST NEW WINERY: Shy Susan Wines, Tasmania
Clay Pot Wines, Alpine Valleys, VIC
Eisenstone, Barossa Valley, SA
Many Hands Winery, Yarra Valley, VIC
Nocturne Wines, Margaret River, WA
Quin Wines, Barossa Valley, SA
Ricca Terra, Riverland, SA
Serengale Vineyard, Beechworth, VIC
Terra Riche, Mount Barker, WA
Utopos, Barossa Valley, SA
Three hundred dozen bottles, each parcel a jewel: Chardonnay ’16 and ’17, Pinot Noir ’17, Riesling ’17 and ’18, Gewurztraminer ’16 all brilliant. I cannot remember any prior recipient of this award spinning together such a spectacular list of 5-glass rated wines. Read the full story.
An unusual venture for Glenn James, a highly experienced winemaker, following his course along the amphorae path. Ten wines were submitted, with vintages dating back to 2013 with Pandora’s Amphora – a blend of vermentino, fiano and moscato – and other exotic varieties wending their way from McLaren Vale to Heathcote, the Alpine Valleys and finally Tasmania. They certainly caught Jane Faulkner’s eye and are recommended for those looking for something different.
Kiwi Stephen Cook spent nine years at a local bank before he ventured to South Australia and completed a science degree and masters in biochemistry. When he finally embarked on Eisenstone, his business model was based on the KISS Principle: keep it simple stupid. He makes wines only from shiraz grown in the Barossa, with no blending of either vineyard source or variety.
Owners Jennifer Walsh and Tony Indomenico were looking for a tree change and found a neglected 2.6ha vineyard planted in 1982. They first rehabilitated the vineyard, then in 2017 opened a restaurant offering Italian food reflecting Tony’s Sicilian heritage. The wines are of high quality, made offsite under Tony’s direction.
This is the busman’s holiday for Julian Langworthy and wife Alana. It’s kept entirely separate from Julian’s day job as chief winemaker of Fogarty Family Wines (and hence Deep Woods Estate), which has taken him to the highest echelons of winemaking in Australia. Nocturne’s production is small and will be most importantly linked to the 8ha Sheoak Vineyard they recently acquired.
The story of Quin Wines and of Andrew and Skye Quin has a feeling of something that was meant to be – it all happened so logically. Andrew and Skye met at high school in Melbourne, and travelled the world before settling in the Barossa Valley. Andrew’s journey started in his grandmother’s garden as young boy, which inspired him to study viticulture and winemaking in Victoria before travelling to places such as California and the Languedoc region of France. Back in Australia, a chance visit to Hentley Farm in 2008 led to his appointment as chief winemaker for the newly minted brand. It’s been forwards and upwards in quick succession.
Ricca Terra is the venture of Ashley and Holly Ratcliff. Ashley joined Orlando as a viticulturist in 1992, thereafter moving to Yalumba where he remained until 2016. By this time he had obtained numerous awards and recognition as a specialist in establishing varieties in drought-prone regions. So ‘do as they say’ was his rationale in founding his small-batch winery with four wines at 95 points.
Since 1999 Serengale has been a hands-on job for Gayle Taylor and Serena Abbinga. Gayle came from more than 20 years working in the wine industry, while Serena came from spending too long in Melbourne’s CBD. Establishing the vineyard in the Everton Hills took many years; the onsite winery wasn’t completed until 2015, the first vintage made in it.
Terra Riche is a marriage made in heaven between winemakers Luke Eckersley and Coby Ladwig, and Shanghai-based importer/distributor Hong Chenggeng (known as Ken). Margins are saved in Mount Barker and again in China. Luke and Coby know the whole of South West Australia like the back of their hands and their winemaking skills are self-evident here, the prices mouthwatering.
The fates were kind when Neil Panuja started looking for something special and asked friend Kym Teusner to keep an eye out. Neil had the money and Kym had the knowledge; the result was a 20ha vineyard that Kym had long admired. From there on it was simple: great vineyard, great winemaker, great story, great packaging.
This extract is from the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion guide, published by Hardie Grant and available at all good bookstores.