There is a major change in the way these lists are presented in this year’s Wine Companion. The categories are the same as in prior years, as is the link of each wine with its region. But the number of wines within each category is far less than in previous years so that only the very best are listed. That said, the cut-off point does reflect the strength of the particular category.

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  • Best of riesling 2017

    The game of musical chairs continues with riesling: the Clare and Eden Valleys tiedwith the Great Southern subregions, but only because there were two vintages from two Great Southern wineries. Canberra District, Henty and Tasmania rounded off aglorious celebration of this great variety.

  • Best of chardonnay 2017

    The usual battle royal between Margaret River (10) and Yarra Valley (9) winescontinued, Leeuwin Estate’s two 98-point wines the coup de grâce. It was an equallyclose contest for third place on the podium, albeit with wines of different styles, the supple/fleshy Mornington Peninsula wines (5) edging out the steely intensityof Tasmania (4).

  • Best of semillon 2017

    There’s a single, although very potent, message here. Semillon bursts into siren songwith five-plus years bottle age.

  • Best of sauvignon blanc 2017

    The net was cast far and wide with this select group; the common feature of the two top wines was the successful integration of texture and structure without compromising varietal character.

  • Best of sauvignon blends 2017

    Why does anyone outside of Margaret River bother? Not only does it monopolisethe field on points, the wines typically have mouthwatering prices.

  • Best of other whites and blends 2017

    Only seven wines, but with the usual spread of regions.

  • Best of sparkling 2017

    All of these wines have been available at some point (and tasted by Tyson Stelzeror myself) over the past 12 months. I am aware that some practitioners, and somecritics, are less convinced than I am about the quality of the Arras wines, but Iam unrepentant.

  • Best of sweet 2017

    Suffice it to say caveat emptor, and read the tasting notes of the rieslings (off dry toluscious and intense) that monopolise the category this year.

  • Best of rose 2017

    Roses are the ultimate all-purpose wines, to be enjoyed when people meet for a drink, or with any Asian cuisine, with seafood, with entrees of almost every kind, and yet more. These wines are of world class, all full of vibrant fruits (mainly red), but dry.

  • Best of pinot noir 2017

    Put these wines alongside Burgundies of similar age, and they won’t yield any ground.The same can be said of Central Otago; as each year goes by, the number of first-classpinots increases. Yet there is still a long way to go on this journey, with new clonesslotting in alongside MV6, an old clone unique to Australia. The average age of vinesis also rising – the oldest are now more than 40 years old.

  • Best of shiraz 2017

    These wines are truly the crème de la crème of Australian shiraz, coming from allpoints of the compass. It may be decades before the Hunter Valley has the most winesin future lists, but 2014 is the best vintage since 1965, itself a celebrated exception.

  • Best of shiraz viognier 2017

    Cool regions provide the best shiraz viogniers, in which fragrance, spice and red fruitsare the flavour cornerstones.

  • Best of cabernet sauvignon 2017

    The affinity of cabernet sauvignon with a maritime climate is put beyond doubt byits home in Bordeaux’s Medoc region. So it comes as no surprise to find that most(but not all) of Australia’s top quality cabernets come from regions with climatessimilar to Bordeaux’s. The dominance of Margaret River is likely to continue; notonly is the climate ideally suited, but is far more consistent than that of any other Australian region.

  • Best of cabernet and family 2017

    A thoroughly diverse range of Bordeaux blends and varieties on the one hand, andthe classic Australian blend of cabernet and shiraz on the other.

  • Best of shiraz and family 2017

    A South Australian stronghold, indeed stranglehold, mostly with some or all of shiraz,grenache and mourvedre.

  • Best of the Italians and friends 2017

    With each year the quality (and quantity) of sangiovese and nebbiolo increases, withgreater vine age and winemaking experience the drivers. Paradoxically, plantings ofthese two are becalmed.

  • Best of fortified wines 2017

    The points speak for themselves. These wines are unique to Australia in terms oftheir age, their complexity, their intensity, and their varietal make up. They arguablyrepresent the best value of all Australian wines given the cost of production, notablyin the amount of working capital tied up for decades.

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Special Value

Wines considered to offer special value for money.