Top 100 wines of 2002

Whites Under $20

2002 Orlando Jacob's Creek Riesling   
89 points    $9
Over many years, has consistently out-performed its price bracket, sometimes with gold medals. Light green-yellow, it has gently flowery lime blossom aromas leading into a well-balanced and structured palate with plenty of flavour. Against the trend, uses a conventional one-piece cork.
Region: South East Australia
Best drinking: Now
Drink with: Summer salads

2002 Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay   
88 points    $9
Amazingly, has won gold medals at both the Brisbane and Adelaide Royal Wine Shows this year, against a myriad of much higher-priced contestants. The bouquet offers melon, stone fruit and the barest hint of oak; the palate is well balanced, with a touch of creaminess, and moderate fruit intensity. Clever winemaking.
Region: South East Australia
Best drinking: Now
Drink with: Pasta, chicken, you name it

2002 Plantagenet Hazard Hill Semillon Sauvignon Blanc   
89 points    $11
A new second string for Plantagenet, attesting to the volume of these varieties from new plantings in Western Australia. Light straw-green, the clean and crisp aromas of lemon, gooseberry and grass flow into an easily-accessed palate, the citrussy fruit neatly balanced by a subliminal hint of sweetness.
Region: Western Australia
Best drinking: Now
Drink with: Cold seafood
2002 Grant Burge Barossa Vines Semillon Sauvignon Blanc   
91 points    $11.60
The Barossa Valley is not the most likely source of a blend such as this, but Grant Burge does well, often with the more pricey Virtuoso. Rich, tropical aromas and a ripe semillon component underpin a palate with gooseberry and pineapple flavours, strongly structured and with good length.
Region: Barossa Valley, SA
Best drinking: Now
Drink with: Pasta marinara

2001 Tahbilk Marsanne  
90 points    $12
Tried, true and trusty are the watch words both for Tahbilk and its marsanne, but don't under-estimate the ability of the wine to blossom with age. The bouquet is showing the first signs of the honeysuckle and toast to come, the palate having good depth and a touch of sweet lime to lengthen the finish.
Region: Nagambie Lakes, Goulburn Valley, Vic
Best Drinking: Now-2010
Drink with: Salad Nicoise

2002 Leo Buring Clare Valley Riesling   
94 points    $15
Repackaged and repositioned in the market, but still the same gold medal (Adelaide Wine Show) quality, and a Stelvin Cap to boot. Pale, bright colour, then aromas of herb, citrus and mineral are followed by a lively, long and well balanced palate with ripe citrus and touches of CO2 and toast.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2012+
Drink with: Fresh asparagus and hollandaise sauce

2002 Hope Estate Semillon   
92 points    $15
For those concerned about the booze bus, or the trend to high alcohol reds, the 10 degrees of this wine will come as a relief. It has considerable depth to the lemony/apply/grassy fruit of the bouquet, then a crisp and tight mouthfeel with both finesse and length. Good stuff.
Region: Hunter Valley, NSW
Best Drinking: Now-2010
Drink with: Tempura
2002 St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling   
95 points    $16
The trophy for Best White Wine at this year's Barossa Valley Wine Show (beating the great 1993 Peter Lehmann Riesling) puts this wine on the top shelf. Smooth, intense and seamless citrus, green apple and steely aromas come first, then a palate flooded with lime/citrus fruit providing great mouthfeel. Pure quality.
Region: Eden Valley, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2010
Drink with: Carpaccio of tuna

2002 Leasingham Bin 7 Riesling   
94 points    $16
A classic wine from a classic region made in a classic vintage - sounds like pure hyperbole, but it happens to be true. A clean and crisp bouquet of light citrus, spice and mineral flows into an impeccably balanced palate with all the components to guarantee (and repay) extended cellaring.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2015
Drink with: Vegetable terrine

2002 Devil's Lair Fifth Leg White  
93 points    $16
A toss-up between this and the Fifth Leg Red, both right up there. This semillon sauvignon blanc chardonnay blend prevailed, with its aromatic fruit salad bouquet and well-structured palate offering tropical fruit salad balanced by lemony acidity running through to a long, cleansing finish.
Region: Margaret River, WA
Best Drinking: Now-2004
Drink with: Abalone

2000 Hardys Tintara Cellars Chardonnay   
92 points    $16
Popped out of nowhere to win a gold medal at this year's Royal Sydney Wine Show. Partial barrel fermentation and maturation gives smoky overtones to the quite intense stonefruit of the bouquet; the fruit is still tight on the long palate, the French oak subtle. Aging impressively.
Region: Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2005
Drink with: Poached green-lipped mussels

2002 Brokenwood Hunter Valley Semillon  
93 points    $17
Yes, it often makes the Top 100, but it ain't broke; like the Hope Estate, it also shows semillon's ability to shrug off inclement vintage rain. Delicate but fragrant fresh grass, lemon zest and spice aromas lead into a crisp, mouth-tingling palate with a long, bright finish. Understated style.
Region: Hunter Valley, NSW
Best Drinking: Now-2007
Drink with: Balmain bugs

2001 Riddoch Chardonnay   
91 points    $17
Riddoch is the second label in the Katnook stable, but can outshine its big brother (the Riddoch Shiraz won the Jimmy Watson Trophy one year). Brilliant yellow-green, the attractively smooth bouquet has nectarine fruit woven through subtle oak, the medium-bodied palate following suit with fresh melon and nectarine fruit. Delicious.
Region: Coonawarra, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2004
Drink with: Pan-fried veal

2002 Leconfield Old Vines Riesling   
94 points    $18
A reminder that there were once large plantings of riesling in Coonawarra; Leconfield itself removed all but a few rows. In typical Coonawarra fashion, the floral bouquet has lime and passionfruit, the palate combining a crisp delicacy with intense and lively flavours which precisely track the bouquet. True elegance.
Region: Coonawarra, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2007
Drink with: Seared scallops

2002 Ralph Fowler Sauvignon Blanc   
95 points    $18
Fowler began his career in the Hunter Valley with Tyrrell's, thence to Coonawarra and now in Mount Benson. The delicate bouquet has a mix of tropical and gooseberry fruit, plus a subliminal touch of oak. The palate has much more intensity, the texture significantly enhanced by fermentation in French oak. Utterly seductive.
Region: Mount Benson, SA
Best drinking: now
Drink with: Sashimi

2002 Houghton Crofters Semillon Sauvignon Blanc   
94 points    $19
Both this and its sister wine, 2002 Moondah Brook Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, are standouts of the vintage. Bright, light yellow-green, the complex bouquet has ripe gooseberry fruit, and hints of lees contact and oak. The palate has great depth of ripe gooseberry and citrus fruit; a wine with attitude.
Region: Margaret River and Mount Barker, WA
Best Drinking: Now-2004
Drink with: Lemon chicken

2002 Sevenhill Cellars Riesling   
95 points    $19
A new label design for this wine echoes its150-year-old Jesuitical winery home. And boy, what a wine this is. The ultra-classic tight bouquet has a steely spine and lemon/lime fruit, the palate with deliciously full flavour while retaining finesse and a crunchy dry finish. Faith not required.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2012
Drink with: Grilled King George Whiting

2000 Geoff Weaver Lenswood Riesling   
95 points    $20
Each time I taste this wine it gets better, although the aging process is appropriately slow. The crisp aromas of mineral, toast, apple and lime are barely changed, and there is excellent intensity and balance to the gentle mix of lime, citrus and apple fruit of the palate. Stelvin capped.
Region: Adelaide Hills, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2010
Drink with: Smoked salmon

Whites Over $20

2001 Rothbury Estate Brokenback Semillon   
95 points    $21
The Rothbury renaissance under the care of Chief Winemaker Neil McGuigan continues, much to the joy of traditionalists such as myself. Gleaming yellow-green, with a spotlessly clean and fragrant herb and citrus bouquet, then a palate with a classically tight structure, the wine is absolutely guaranteed to age with extreme grace.
Region: Hunter Valley, NSW
Best Drinking: 2005-2021
Drink with: Smoked eel

2002 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling   
96 points    $21
Brian Croser believes this to be one of the best Petaluma Rieslings to date, and it's not hard to see why. Bright, light straw-green, the very pure and seductive lime/lime blossom aromas are followed by a palate of similar purity; perfect balance and acidity mark a great wine. Terrific value.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2015
Drink with: Blue swimmer crab

2002 Geoff Weaver Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc   
94 points    $21
Stands alongside Shaw & Smith and Knappstein Lenswood as the foremost producers of sauvignon blanc in the Adelaide Hills, all revelling in the cool 2002 vintage. Typical delicate gooseberry aromatics lead into a palate with balanced and focussed sweet gooseberry fruit, then a crisp, dry finish. Exemplary varietal character.
Region: Adelaide Hills, SA
Best Drinking: Now-end 2003
Drink with: Sushi and sashimi

2002 Cascabel Eden Valley Riesling   
96 points    $22
The tiny (2000-case) winery of Susana Fernandez and Duncan Ferguson is rapidly making a name for itself with an eclectic range of wines. An intensely aromatic lime/lime blossom bouquet is followed by a very intense and complex palate offering a marvellous mix of lime, apple and spice. Outstanding
Region: Eden Valley, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2012
Drink with: Stir-fried prawns

2002 Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc  
95 points    $22.40
A fifty/fifty blend of the two varieties which is partially barrel-fermented, and is one of the most reliable examples, year-in, year-out. The complex herb and spice fruit of the bouquet is followed by intense and powerful flavours of herb, citrus and gooseberry, the oak subtle throughout. Gold plated.
Region: Margaret River, WA
Best Drinking: Now-2005
Drink with: Anything Asian

2001 Domaine Chandon Green Point Vineyards Chardonnay   
95 points    $23
Having initially used the Green Point name only for its exported wines, Domaine Chandon is now introducing it domestically. Bright yellow-green; rich nectarine and melon fruit combines with neatly judged French oak on the bouquet, then a fresh, silky smooth, nectarine-accented, long palate. Stylish stuff.
Region: Yarra Valley, Vic
Best Drinking: Now-2006
Drink with: Free range chicken

2002 Suckfizzle Augusta Stella Bella Sauvignon Blanc   
94 points    $23
An outrageous name and striking, avant garde (but beautiful) labelling gives a clue to the two semi-silent partners in the business. Striking straw-green, then a bouquet ranging through grass, herb, flint and a hint of smoke, the spotlessly clean palate leaving the mouth with a great aftertaste. Gulp, don't sip.
Region: Margaret River WA
Best Drinking: Now-2003
Drink with: Smart brasserie food

2001 Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier   
94 points    $23
Yalumba has been on the Viognier learning curve for longer than any other producer (except for Elgee Park in the Mornington Peninsula). The smooth, enticing, seamless aromas of ripe fruit and spice flow into a palate with apricot, citrus and honey flavours which easily carry the 14.5 degrees alcohol. A flavour bomb.
Region: Eden Valley, SA
Best drinking: now
Drink with: Creamy pasta

2002 Henschke Lenswood Green's Hill Riesling   
96 points    $24.80
It's a strange quirk that a Henschke white wine should be selected, rather than one of its reds, but this wine is exceptional. Fragrant, flowery lime and passionfruit aromas are followed by a deliciously lingering, intense and silky palate tied up with a bow of minerally acidity to underwrite its future.
Region: Adelaide Hills, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2010+
Drink with: Antipasto

1999 Ashton Hills Chardonnay   
94 points    $25
Stephen George makes some of Australia's finest and elegant wines at Ashton Hills, and its most powerful reds at Wendouree: a man for all seasons. Glowing yellow-green; complex barrel-ferment aromas surround the nectarine, fig, melon and citrus fruit of the bouquet, the palate adding cashew and tight European acidity.
Region: Adelaide Hills, SA
Best Drinking: Now-2009
Drink with: Grilled lobster

2002 Grosset Semillon Sauvignon Blanc   
96 points    $29.50
I know it ought to be one of Jeffrey Grosset's superb rieslings to gain selection; it just happened this way (and not for the first time). Lively, pristine aromas of gooseberry and green apple introduce a wine which literally dances on the tongue through to a long finish. All class.
Region: Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills, SA
Best Drinking: Now preferably, or to 2007
Drink with: Shellfish

1996 Taylors St Andrews Riesling   
95 points    $35
A wine which showed tremendous character earlier in its life, and has built on that start. The colour glows from within, the bouquet offering a tantalising mix of lime, pear and apple with a touch of Alsace-like steel. The powerful, focussed palate is followed by a long, lingering aftertaste.
Region: Clare Valley. SA
Best Drinking: Now-2011
Drink with: Asparagus risotto

2001 Howard Park Chardonnay   
96 points    $35
Winemaker Michael Kerrigan is hell-bent on moving to Stelvin for all Howard Park wines, and used it with this one. The fine, elegant and fruit-driven bouquet of citrus and melon is inevitably followed by a fine and perfectly modulated palate, with oak purely background support. Lingering delicacy.
Region: Albany and Porongurups, Great Southern, WA
Best Drinking: Now-2010
Drink with: Fish quenelles in white sauce

2001 Moorilla Estate Reserve Chardonnay   
95 points    $38.50
The changing of the winemaking guard at Moorilla Estate seems to have had no adverse effect. Intense grapefruit and stonefruit aromas are matched by precisely balanced and integrated oak, the palate shifting ever so subtly to nectarine and citrus which drive the wine through to a long, stylish finish.
Region: Tasmania
Best Drinking: Now-2010
Drink with: Fresh, slow-cooked Tasmanian salmon

2000 Hardys Eileen Hardy Chardonnay   
95 points    $40
Sourced from whichever cool regions of Southern Australia which provide the best material each year. A complex array of barrel ferment and tangy fruit aromas literally leap from the glass, while the palate is still fresh, with tangy citrus and nectarine fruit to the fore, high quality French oak in the background.
Region: Tasmania and Yarra Valley, Vic
Best Drinking: Now-2008
Drink with: Turkey breast

1997 McWilliam's Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon   
96 points    $42
The Lovedale Vineyard is the greatest source of semillon in the Hunter, although the wine is only intermittently produced under this label. Glowing yellow-green, the complex and powerful bouquet has a touch of French white Bordeaux about it, the powerful, intense palate likewise crammed with character. The best.
Region: Hunter Valley, NSW
Best Drinking: Now-2017
Drink with: Baked fish, Chinese-style

2000 Tyrrell's Vat 47 Chardonnay   
95 points    $45
The 30th vintage of Vat 47, a wine which pioneered modern chardonnay in Australia and has never lost its icon status. The bouquet is building complexity around its melon, fig and stone fruit core, the palate likewise adding character to its mix of nectarine, stone fruit, cream and cashew, the oak positive but controlled.
Region: Hunter Valley, NSW
Best Drinking: Now-2005
Drink with: White Rocks veal

1999 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay   
97 points    $75
When I first tasted this wine, I lost no time in buying some. Brilliant pale straw-green, the restrained barrel ferment and delicate fruit of the bouquet gives no hint of the 14.5 degrees alcohol, nor does the youthful, vibrant grapefruit, nectarine and melon fruit of the palate. Destined to be one of the greatest Leeuwins.
Region: Margaret River, WA
Best Drinking: Now-2019+
Drink with: Tempura

Reds Under $25

2001 Stonehaven Stepping Stone Cabernet Sauvignon   
91 points    $12
Made at Hardys Stonehaven winery in Padthaway, and another remarkable bargain. Strong red-purple, its bouquet has abundant sweet cassis/blackcurrant fruit, the palate replicating this fruit spectrum. Oak has been used less lavishly than in many Hardy family reds, which is all to the good.
Region: Coonawarra, SA
Best drinking: 2003-2010
Drink with: Lamb casserole

2001 De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir   
89 points    $12
The whole bag of winemaking techniques including cold maceration, whole bunches and French oak provide a quality pinot at an unbelievably low price. The plum cherry and spice aromas and flavours present when the wine was released early this year have developed all the complexity one could wish for. Pure serendipity.
Region: Southern Victoria (including Yarra Valley)
Best drinking: Now-2004
Drink with: Chinese pork ribs

2000 Orlando Jacob's Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon   
92 points    $15
Has impressed every vintage since being added on to the basic Jacob's Creek range several years ago. Healthy red-purple; sweet cassis fruit, even a hint of jam, drives the bouquet, flowing logically into a palate with a great volume of ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, controlled oak and tannins.
Region: South East Australia
Best drinking: Now-2010
Drink with: Braised ox-tail

2001 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet   
90 points    $15
An annual rite of passage, and very much in the tradition of its predecessors. The bouquet has good depth with dark berry fruits and a dash of sweet oak, a theme carried on through the generous plum and blackberry fruit of the palate, accompanied by supple tannins and controlled oak. If it ain't broke …
Region: South East Australia
Best drinking: Now-2008
Drink with: Any red meat, cheese

2000 Seppelt Victorian Premium Reserve Shiraz   
92 points    $16
Time will tell whether yet another overhaul of the Seppelt brands and labels will achieve its aim; the quality of the wine deserves it. Dark berry, plum and dark chocolate aromas flow into a smooth, supple and rounded palate, with plum and cherry fruit, fine, soft tannins. Excellent finish and aftertaste.
Region: Victoria
Best drinking: Now-2010+
Drink with: Braised beef

2000 Seppelt Victorian Premium Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon  
93 points    $16
The selection of the twin wines was pure happenstance; I taste the wines in varietal blocks. Deep but bright red-purple for a start, then rich, ripe cassis varietal fruit and subtle oak on the bouquet is followed by a succulently ripe, fruit-driven palate. An irresistible bargain.
Region: Victoria
Best drinking: Now-2012+
Drink with: Lamb shanks

2000 Annie's Lane Shiraz   
94 points    $18
Lightning can indeed strike twice; two Seppelt and two Annie's Lane wines, each pair too good to separate. Strongly coloured, deep, dark berry/black cherry fruit aromas are followed by a voluminous palate with lovely texture to its blackberry and cherry fruit. Has improved dramatically over the last year.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2014
Drink with: Grilled porterhouse

1999 Annie's Lane Old Vine Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre   
94 points    $18
Don't ask me why this trophy-winning wine should still be available; perhaps the Clare Valley is not usually associated with Rhone-style blends. Complex spice, blackberry and licorice aromas are echoed on the particularly well-balanced palate and delicious aftertaste. Trust me; go for it.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best drinking: Now-2009
Drink with: Beef in red wine sauce

1999 Montrose Mudgee Black Shiraz   
94 points    $19
Multiple gold medals at Mudgee Wine Shows, and the Trophy for Best Under $25 Wine at the 2002 Great Australian Shiraz Challenge. Still vivid red-purple, a complex bouquet of berry/cherry/plum/spice is followed by a palate with perfectly integrated fruit and vanillin oak, plus gently savoury tannins.
Region: Mudgee, NSW
Best drinking: Now-2009
Drink with: Steak and kidney pie

2001 Primo Estate il briccone Shiraz Sangiovese   
92 points    $20
A thoroughly fashionable Italianate blend of predominantly shiraz and sangiovese with lesser amounts of barbera, nebbiolo and cabernet sauvignon. Scented, savoury, spicy dark berry aromas lead into a powerful palate with definite Italian overtones coming from its firm structure and lingering, savoury flavours and tannins. Go Joe (Grilli).
Region: South Australia
Best drinking: 2003-2008
Drink with: Anything Italian

2000 Lake Breeze Bernoota    
94 points    $21
Another wine to have flourished in bottle over the past year. A blend of 60 per cent shiraz, 40 per cent cabernet sauvignon, the complex bouquet has a range of dark small berries, spice, chocolate and cedar, the palate evolving into ever greater richness of dark fruits, chocolate and ripe tannins. Irresistible.
Region: Langhorne Creek, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2010
Drink with: Braised beef

2001 Wirra Wirra Church Block    
93 points    $21.50
An illustrious blend of 50 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 30 per cent shiraz and 20 per cent merlot which spends 18 months in French oak. Strong, bright red-purple; the solid bouquet has a mix of dark berry and regional chocolate fruit, the richly textured and structured palate with abundant flavour. Keeps the faith.
Region: McLaren Vale, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2009
Drink with: Pasta Bolognese
2000 Leasingham Bin 56 Cabernet Malbec   
93 points    $22
A wine with a great history (the 1971 still superb) and a testament to the synergy of the cabernet malbec blend in the Clare Valley; spends 18 months in French and American oak. Blackcurrant and plum aromas are matched by the generous, mouthfilling mid-palate sweet fruit of the malbec, the cabernet adding authority to the finish.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2014
Drink with: Venison ragout

2001 Seville Estate Pinot Noir   
94 points    $23.50
Trendily bottled unfiltered, not an easy task with pinot noir, but seen by some as a passport to authenticity. By the standards of pinot, the colour is quite deep, the bouquet a complex array of smoky oak, plum and a touch of stem. The palate follows suit, with complex dark plum and a hint of game.
Region: Yarra Valley, Vic
Best drinking: Now-2007
Drink with: Rare breast of squab

2001 Diamond Valley Vineyards Yarra Valley Pinot Noir  
93 points    $24
The 'blue label' is made from 100 per cent Yarra Valley contract-grown (rather than estate-grown) pinot. Excellent purple-red; fragrant spicy plum and toasty oak aromas lead to a complex and rich palate with spicy plum and smoky bacon oak flavours. A died-in-the-wool classic.
Region: Yarra Valley, Vic
Best drinking: Now-2007
Drink with: Game pie

2000 Sevenhill Cellars St Ignatius   
93 points    $24
A Bordeaux-style blend of 44 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 26 per cent merlot, 17 per cent malbec and 13 per cent cabernet franc. Medium red-purple; an appealing blend of rich, ripe, dark fruits and gentle oak aromas, then a palate with great texture and mouthfeel, showing full, dark berry fruit, vanillin oak and tannins. Heavenly.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2014
Drink with: Braised ox cheek

Reds Over $25

2000 Zema Estate Cabernet Sauvignon   
95 points    $25.65
Zema Estate never disappoints with its wines, wines which truly express the terroir from which they come. Deep red-purple, the bouquet is redolent with sweet blackcurrant/cassis fruit; the harmonious texture and flavour caresses the mouth, with all the components of ripe cassis, gentle oak, and ripe, rounded tannins in perfect balance.
Region: Coonawarra, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2015+
Drink with: Barbecued leg of lamb

2000 Wellington Pinot Noir   
94 points    $28
Andrew Hood eschews complicated winemaking tricks for his pinots, relying instead on protecting the inherent quality of the grapes. The gently sweet, ripe bouquet has a mix of spice, strawberry and cherry aromas which drive the seductive cherry and spice palate; a lovely, free-flowing wine.
Region: Tasmania
Best drinking: Now-2006
Drink with: Venison fillet

2000 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Pinot Noir   
94 points    $29
This was an outstanding vintage for pinot, and De Bortoli didn't miss the opportunity. The winemaking team has worked hard to build the structure and complexity of a pinot which is going from strength to strength, with a mix of primary plum fruit and secondary savoury/foresty characters starting to build in the long palate and finish.
Region: Yarra Valley, Vic
Best drinking: Now-2006
Drink with: Duck casserole
2001 Moorilla Estate Black Label Pinot Noir   
94 points    $29.50
The 2001 vintage in Tasmania may yet rival the great 2000; global warming has its upsides for some parts of the world. Sumptuous dark plum fruit aromas, sweet and intense, flow into a palate overflowing with ripe (but not jammy) fruit, held together by good structure and fine tannins. Top drawer.
Region: Tasmania
Best drinking: Now-2009
Drink with: Duck confit

2000 Wirra Wirra McLaren Vale Shiraz   
95 points    $29.50
A perennial favourite which exceeded itself in 2000, not regarded as a particularly good vintage in McLaren Vale. Bright red-purple, the bouquet ranges through berry, earth, spice, cedar and regional chocolate, and the palate picks up all those characters. Supple and round, the mouthfeel is great, as is the overall flavour.
Region: McLaren Vale, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2014
Drink with: Lamb shanks

2000 Scotchmans Hill Shiraz   
95 points    $29.50
A new arrival in the Scotchmans Hill portfolio, made from recent estate plantings at Geelong, and promising much for the riper vintages. An exotic array of licorice, spice, blackberry and cherry aromas and flavours are the fulcrum of a wine with excellent texture and structure, drawing on fine tannins and judiciously handled oak.
Region: Geelong, Vic
Best drinking: 2003-2008
Drink with: Lasagne

2001 Elsewhere Vineyard Pinot Noir   
94 points    $30
It was very difficult to choose between this wine and the Elsewhere Bay of Eight; greater availability tipped the scales. The bouquet has a fragrant array of plum, spice and red berry aromas, but the long, silky and intense palate is even better, with a wonderfully delicate, gossamer-like, mouthfeel. To die for.
Region: Tasmania
Best drinking: Now-2007
Drink with: Wild mushroom risotto

2000 Port Phillip Estate Reserve Shiraz   
94 points    $30
It's a strange world when a Mornington shiraz prevails over a pinot noir from the same winery, but this is cool climate shiraz at its best. Complex, multi-spiced aromatics lead into a palate with black fruits, bitter chocolate, licorice and spice flavours; soft, fluffy tannins provide great texture.
Region: Mornington Peninsula, Vic
Best drinking: 2005-2015
Drink with: Braised oxtail

2000 Rosemount Estate Orange Vineyard Merlot   
94 points    $31
The high altitude, cool climate vineyards around Orange produce elegant wines, both white and red. This lovely example has fresh berry fruit plus hints of olive and herb on the bouquet, the palate showing the same focussed varietal character, scoring for its length, balance and fine, savoury tannins.
Region: Orange, NSW
Best drinking: 2004-2009
Drink with: Osso bucco

2000 Haan Shiraz Prestige   
95 points    $35
A hair's breadth separated this wine and the Haan Wilhelmus bordeaux blend, also very fine. Dark deep red, there are complex spicy/cedary overtones to the ripe plum of the bouquet, which unfolds into a luscious plum and prune flavoured palate; expert winemaking has avoided over-extraction.
Region: Barossa Valley, SA
Best drinking: 2003-2013
Drink with: Jugged hare

1999 McWilliam's Mount Pleasant Old Paddock and Old Hill Shiraz     
94 points    $35
A Hunter classic, the grapes coming from two estate vineyards planted in the 1880s and 1920s. The fragrant bouquet has dark cherry and regional nuances of leather and earth, the elegant and silky palate with finely balanced savour cherry fruit, tannins and oak. Will outlive many, myself included.
Region: Hunter Valley, NSW
Best drinking: 2004-2024+
Drink with: Roast veal

2000 Craiglee Shiraz   
95 points    $38
A winery with a great 19th century history, and an equally great 21st century reputation for its shiraz. Clean, bright red cherry fruit, a touch of spice and gentle oak on the bouquet, then (by Craiglee standards) a voluptuously rich, ripe and supple palate. Seriously under priced, seriously good.
Region: Sunbury, Vic
Best drinking: 2005-2020
Drink with: Osso bucco

1998 Seppelt St Peters Shiraz   
97 points    $41
From the vineyard adjacent to the Great Western winery planted in the 1920s. Deep red-purple, rich blackberry, black cherry and spice aromas matched by controlled French oak, flow into an opulently rich and luscious palate flooded with black cherry fruit; ripe tannins sustain the long finish. Eureka.
Region: Grampians, Vic
Best drinking: 2003-2025+
Drink with: Braised ox cheek
2000 Turkey Flat Shiraz  
95 points    $42
Made from 1847 estate plantings, and must surely contend for historical pride of place, notwithstanding the claims of others. Smooth, plum and black cherry fruit on the bouquet, then a supple, smooth palate with black fruits, spice, cedar and vanilla. A masterpiece of understatement.
Region: Barossa Valley, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2024+
Drink with: Venison

1998 Murdock Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon   
95 points    $42
A long-term Coonawarra grape grower venturing into small-scale winemaking with the great 1998 vintage. Strong red-purple, the rich, ripe dense bouquet ranges through blackberry, mulberry and chocolate aromas merging into a mouthfilling mix of blackcurrant fruit and high quality oak on the palate.
Region: Coonawarra, SA
Best drinking: 2003-2018
Drink with: Rack of lamb

1999 Leasingham Classic Clare Cabernet Sauvignon   
96 points    $46
Festooned with trophies and gold medals from top shows, which comes as no surprise, for this is the big end of town. Dense red-purple, massively concentrated fruit has soaked up the new French oak on the bouquet, the palate with dense black fruits and chocolate; yet well balanced. Monumental.
Region: Clare Valley, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2024
Drink with: Game casserole

2000 Knappstein Lenswood Vineyards Pinot Noir   
95 points    $47
From the Knappstein family winery at Lenswood, and has lived up to all the potential it showed early in its life, and indeed has some way to go yet. The hue is still good, the aromas a mix of spice, cedar and plum which feed into an intensely rich palate of cedar, plum and forest. A pinot stayer.
Region: Adelaide Hills, SA
Best drinking: Now-2008
Drink with: Wild mushroom risotto
1999 Tatachilla Foundation Shiraz   
96 points    $49.50
The top wine (of 217 entries) and trophy winner at the 2002 Visy Board Great Australian Shiraz Challenge. A year ago, the slightly assertive oak stood out, but no more. Great colour, then dark berry, licorice, leather and spice aromas flow into a rich, complex palate, with fruit, oak and tannins in harmonious abundance.
Region: McLaren Vale, SA
Best drinking: 2004-2020
Drink with: Game pie

2001 Freycinet Pinot Noir   
95 points    $50
Arguably the most consistent producer of pinot noir in Tasmania, benefiting from a unique amphitheatre site and low yields. Strong purple-red, the complex bouquet opens with deep plum, then touches spice, forest and mint. The luscious and powerful palate has black plum/black cherry and spice, then background tannins.
Region: East Coast, Tas
Best drinking: Now-2008+
Drink with: Jugged hare

2000 Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir  
95 points    $55
Won the trophy for Best Pinot Noir (all countries) at the 2002 London International Wine and Spirit Competition. Strong red-purple, smoky/charry oak is an integral part of both bouquet and palate, but is settling down against the background of an intense, complex, foresty palate in Burgundian mould.
Region: Yarra Valley, Vic
Best drinking: 2002-2007
Drink with: Roast squab

2000 Hanging Rock Winery Heathcote Shiraz   
95 points    $55
One of the gold medal winners at the 2002 Visy Board Great Australian Shiraz Challenge. Deeply coloured; abundant dark plum, black cherry and vanilla aromas swirl from the glass, the palate rich in raspberry and plum fruit, the oak (very obvious at the start of the year) settling down impressively.
Region: Heathcote, Vic
Best drinking: 2005-2012
Drink with: Roast venison
2000 Petaluma Coonawarra    
95 points    $59
An acknowledged classic, created with a clear but different vision to most top-end Coonawarra reds. Vivid purple-red, the bouquet is satin smooth, with perfectly integrated red currant/cassis fruit and French oak, the supple, round, medium-bodied palate again showing impeccable balance and integration of fruit and oak. Iron glove, velvet fist.
Region: Coonawarra, SA
Best drinking: 2005-2020
Drink with: Saddle of lamb

2000 Pipers Brook Vineyard The Lyre Pinot Noir  
97 points    $69.30
From a single site, chosen as the best of an exceptional vintage, oozing class but with its best years still in front of it. Bright purple-red, the clean, power-laden bouquet of complex dark plum is followed by a palate flooded with fruit, yet retains finesse; very fine tannins. Ultimate quality.
Region: Northern Tasmania
Best drinking: Now-2012
Drink with: Coq au vin

2000 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot    95 points    $75
One of Australia's true benchmark wines, broodingly powerful in its youth, but slowly unfolding with age. Deeply coloured, the small red berry fruits and subtle oak of the bouquet give little hint of the lush red and black fruits of the palate, the powerful tannins showing the first signs of softening. Great blood lines.
Region: Margaret River, WA
Best drinking: 2008-2018
Drink with: Infinite patience

1999 Howard Park Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot   
96 points    $75
From the wonderful 1999 vintage; 49 per cent Great Southern cabernet sauvignon, 24 per cent Margaret River merlot and 27 per cent Pemberton merlot; two years in French oak. Rich, sweet crushed berry aromas and excellent oak lead into a palate bounding with red fruits, supported by convincing oak and tannin inputs.
Region: Western Australia
Best drinking: 2004-2014
Drink with: Lamb fillet
1998 McWilliam's 1877 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz   
96 points    $85
A super-premium blend of Coonawarra cabernet and Hilltops shiraz to celebrate McWilliams's 125th anniversary, with seven gold medals to its credit. Deeply coloured, the very complex bouquet of blackberry, plum, spice and integrated French oak leads into a velvety textured palate with great depth of dark fruit flavour; impeccable balance.
Region: Hilltops, NSW and Coonawarra, SA
Best drinking: 2003-2013+
Drink with: Slow-cooked rib of beef

1999 Houghton Jack Mann    
97 points    $90
A blend of cabernet sauvignon and malbec from Houghton's Frankland River Justin Vineyard, a true tribute to the wine style of the late Jack Mann. Dense purple-red, the rich and concentrated bouquet oozes sweet blackcurrant/cassis, the huge, ultra-concentrated fruit of the palate balanced by appropriately firm tannins and lavish oak.
Region: Great Southern, WA
Best drinking: 2009-2029+
Drink with: Leave it in the cellar

2000 Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz   
96 points    $90
A monument to what can be achieved with shiraz in the utterly perverse climate of the Hunter Valley. Deep red-purple; prune, dark fruits and oak interplay on the bouquet, leading into a sumptuous yet powerful, multi-layered palate of blackberry and dark plum; almost unrecognisable since first bottled.
Region: Hunter Valley, NSW
Best drinking: 2007-2027
Drink with: Char-grilled rump

Australian Sparkling

NV Orlando Jacob's Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir   
8 points    $10
Bright, fresh and breezy, ready to pop at the least excuse. Light yellow-green, the citrussy/lemony aromas are direct, even if a little simple; the palate is smooth and clean, with lively citrussy flavours and a subliminal touch of cashew aiding the mouthfeel.

NV Hardys Sir James Cuvee Brut   
90 points    $15
There is no question BRL Hardy has a death grip on all sectors of the Australian sparkling wine market. Straw-bronze, with good mousse, the complex, high-toned bouquet offers crisp stonefruit and citrus aromas, the harmonious and lingering palate with good balance.

1998 Domaine Chandon Tasmanian Cuvee   
94 points    $32
A 50/50 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from the Tolpuddle Vineyard in the Coal River area of Southern Tasmania. Light to medium yellow-straw, fine aromas of stonefruit and brioche lead into a crisp, long, elegant yet intense apple and citrus palate, completed by minerally acidity on the dry finish. Three and a half years on lees.

1998 Yarrabank Cuvee   
95 points    $35
First tasted shortly after it was first disgorged, showing once again the benefit of a year or more cork age. Medium straw-green, the clean, aromatic bouquet has green apple, spice, citrus and bready aromas, the palate with fresh citrus and apple fruit and crisp acidity; developing slowly but surely.

1995 Jansz Late Disgorged    
96 points    $39
A blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, aged in magnums and then disgorged into 750ml bottles. Brilliant green-yellow, tight, bright aromas of citrus, pear, apple and spice lead into an exceptionally fine and focussed palate, citrus-dominated but not at all green. Great value.

NV Hanging Rock Winery Macedon Cuvee IX   
94 points    $40
The comparison with Bollinger is inevitable; both wines have a somewhat unorthodox, aldehyde-based background to their immense complexity, and both polarise opinion. Medium to full straw-gold, the very complex bouquet has abundant, spicy, bready, biscuity aromas, the rich palate providing more and more of the same.

1997 Freycinet Radenti Sparkling   
95 points    $45
A blend of estate-grown chardonnay and pinot noir which spends three years on yeast lees, and named after Freycinet winemaker Claudio Radenti. Light straw-green, clear citrus and nectarine aromas and flavours drive a seductive wine with great harmony, mouthfeel and balance.
1997 Hardys Arras Chardonnay Pinot Noir   
96 points    $50
A blend of Tasmanian and Yarra Valley grown grapes, literally festooned with trophies and gold labels medals. Light straw-green, the elegant bouquet shows bready autolysis from the prolonged lees contact. The exceptionally fine and intense palate has a great finish and even better aftertaste. The epitome of Australian sparkling wine.


NV Pol Gessner Brut Reserve   
89 points    $30
What a total surprise; it is in fact a 10 000-case brand from the negociant house of Marne et Champagne. Medium to full straw-yellow, with good mousse, the bouquet has utterly authentic nutty, bready, peachy aromas, the full flavoured and rich palate at the sweeter end of the spectrum, which will appeal to many. Amazing value.

NV Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut   
93 points    $55
With its distinctive red label, has established itself as one of the most reliable Champagnes at the lower priced end of the market. Has excellent fine mousse, and a complex bouquet of ripe fruit and yeasty brioche, the refined palate tightening the game with fresh apple and ripe citrus fruit, then a pleasingly dry finish.

NV Gosset Excellence Brut  
94 points    $69
From one of the smallest Grand Marque Champagne houses, and the oldest, founded by Pierre Gosset in 1584. Medium straw, the bouquet has unusual but attractive spicy nutmeg overtones, picked up on the complex and powerful palate with its sweet, spiced apple flavours which move into a long, lingering finish.

NV Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial   
95 points    $76
I have not always been an admirer of this particular label, but this wine swept me away. The clean, smooth, fruit-driven bouquet with its twist of nut and cashew, the almost delicate palate with attractively smooth, nectarine and citrus flavours running through to a beguiling finish.

1993 Pol Roger Vintage Rose   
95 points    $85
There is in fact no reason why a rose such as this should taste of strawberry; it is simply the auto-suggestion of the colour. The answer is a black glass, but since you will not use such a glass, why should I? Fresh, pale salmon-pink, the flowery/blossom aromas of the bouquet flow into the fresh, perfectly balanced palate with its hints of strawberry.

1996 Mumm Cordon Rouge    
94 points    $90
Transformed from the worst Grand Marque house to one of the better as a result of wholesale changes in the winemaking team, a process aided by the great 1996 vintage. The clean, smooth yet complex bouquet has a mix of ripe fruit, spice and brioche, neatly balanced by the long, crisp palate with its brisk, mouth-cleansing acidity.

1995 Veuve Clicquot Reserve    
96 points    $96
The symmetry of a dollar a point is somehow appropriate given the quality of Veuve Clicquot over the last decade or so. Bright yellow-green, the appealing gently sweet mix of ripe stonefruit/white peach leads into a palate with pristine flavours, excellent focus and balance and a great farewell. Another glass, please.
NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose   
95 points    $100
If you put exotica such as Dom Perignon and Krug roses to one side, this has to be the best rose on the market, awesome with its consistency. The flowery, spicy bouquet is as fresh as a daisy, as is the bright and fresh palate with its auto-suggestion of strawberries and its dancing finish; a heavenly mouth-freshener.

1996 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque    
97 points    $150
Ignoring (if one can) the striking flower design of the Belle Epoque baked onto the bottle, this wine takes you into the highest echelon of Champagne quality. Bright, light, yellow-green, with excellent mousse, its spotlessly clean and intense bouquet bursts with white peach, citrus and cashew aromatics, the palate with glorious length and intensity, leaving the mouth tingling with anticipation for another sip, and another …

1993 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill    
97 points    $188
The prestige cuvee of Pol Roger is named after its most famous and loyal client, kept much longer on lees than its vintage counterparts, and hence typically released two years later - albeit far from every vintage. The powerful, concentrated bouquet has a mix of bready/yeasty/brioche and apple, the palate with great length and structure; a blend of cashew and apple is balanced by lingering acidity on the finish.

1995 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon   
98 points    $240
The wine might seem expensive until you are reminded that a 1995 First Growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy would cost twice to four times as much. And indeed the very complex and rich bouquet is reminiscent of great White Burgundies, the super-intense and infinitely stylish palate with ultimate length and balance, lingering on and on.

NV Krug Grande Cuvee   
98 points    $243
Neither Vintage Krug nor Clos de Mesnil were submitted, which greatly disappointed the unofficial tasting panel which mysteriously appears every year to 'help' me in this section of the Top 100 tasting. No matter, the Grande Cuvee is at its majestic best, as ultra-complex as ever with its mix of brioche, bread, nuts and dried fruits, then amazing freshness and acidity running through the long palate and finish.

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Special Value

Wines considered to offer special value for money.