The Top 100 list 2022
Whites under $30
112 wines submitted
At the start of the list are – no surprise – eight world-class rieslings. At the end come the unexpected pinot gris, piquepoul and pecorino. Of the 20 wines, 17 come from the 2022 vintage.
Riposte The Scimitar Single Vineyard Clare Valley Riesling 2022
94 points | $24 | drink to 2035
From a single, long-established vineyard, made by Tim Knappstein with a lifetime’s experience. Apple blossom and talc aromatics; a fleshy entry with abundant lime/lemon flavours gaining intensity on the finish, where balancing acidity makes its mark. Screwcap, 11.5% alc.
Kilikanoon Mort's Block Watervale Riesling 2022
96 points | $25 | drink to 2040
Made from old, low-yielding vines. Light, bright green-quartz. The delicately perfumed bouquet takes some coaxing to reveal itself, the palate following without the need of persuasion. It is bright and lively, bringing citrus, Granny Smith apple and slinky acidity from the first sip through to the lingering finish. Screwcap, 11.5% alc.
Rieslingfreak No. 4 Riesling 2022
96 points | $27 | drink to 2037
Don’t be fooled by John Hughes’s quirky business name. Eden Valley’s dominant juicy lime fruit comes through at speed and slows towards the back palate before surging on the finish and aftertaste, with white peach and grapefruit providing a high wire of acidity and length. Screwcap, 12% alc.
Mitchelton Blackwood Park Riesling 2021
94 points | $28 | drink to 2032
Fresh, lively, citrus flavours first up, followed by a balanced acidity on the aftertaste. This has always been a good wine with upwards of 50 years’ under its belt. This vintage is light on its feet, with a crisp finish. Screwcap, 12.2% alc.
Forest Hill Vineyard Mount Barker Riesling 2022
96 points | $29 | drink to 2037
From Block 2, planted in 1975, and the youngest Highbury Fields site. The old vines provide the seemingly limitless depth to its length, texture and structure, the younger planting providing the lime blossom bouquet. A lovely cool-grown wine from a very good region. Screwcap, 12% alc.
Kerrigan + Berry Mt Barker Great Southern Riesling 2022
96 points | $29 | drink to 2032
Draws on six estate blocks; 100% free run juice. The perfumed apple and lime blossom bouquet doesn’t prepare you for the searing intensity of the slatey acidity and lemon zest palate. This is purity on a grand scale, its future unlimited. Screwcap, 11.5% alc.
Holm Oak Riesling 2022
97 points | $30 | drink to 2042
A flawless riesling, the bouquet with white flower and powdery apple blossom to start the conversation before the sheer power of the mouth-watering lime juice and Meyer lemon take control. The length is prodigious, the flavours lingering long in the mouth. Screwcap, 11.8% alc.
O’Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling 2022
95 points | $30 | drink to 2032
Vines planted circa 2001, and since 2010 organically grown. It has an evocative bouquet with its mix of citrus and talc; the flavours take shape on the palate, with its extraordinary staying power, the acidity just as it should be. Screwcap, 11.5% alc.
Audrey Wilkinson Hunter Valley Semillon 2022
95 points | $25 | drink to 2053
This leaps out of the blocks like an Olympic sprinter at the start of a 100m race. Lemons (green and Meyer) and Granny Smith apple are lashed by razor sharp acidity. Drink tonight or in 30 years’ time. Screwcap, 12% alc.
Sauvignon Blanc and blends
Deep Woods Estate Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2022
95 points | $20 | drink to 2025
Partial barrel fermentation adds another dimension to the citrus, snow pea and passionfruit notes of this wine, the rich bouquet marking a multi-layered palate that takes a split second to fill every part of the mouth with its grapefruit and nectarine flavours. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Sidewood Estate Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2022
95 points | $22 | drink to 2024
Gently pressed and fermented, using only free run juice. The distinct nettle on the bouquet catches attention until the delicious palate takes over, with grapefruit leading the way, supported by gooseberry and a hint of passionfruit. The finish is crisp and lip-smacking. Screwcap, 12% alc.
West Cape Howe Mount Barker Sauvignon Blanc 2022
94 points | $22 | drink to 2023
The fruit comes from the mature 30-year-old Langton Vineyard, with no tricks in the ferment. The wine has that group of sauvignon blanc flavours covering tropical, herbal and gooseberry. Bright acidity with an edge of citrus provides an extra degree of length. Screwcap, 12.5% alc.
Cullen Mangan Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2022
95 points | $29 | drink to 2027
A 60/33/7% blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon and verdelho, hand-picked on biodynamic fruit and flower days, naturally fermented with no acid additions. It has that oxymoronic coupling of intense, layered tropical fruit and a herbal undercut of lemony acidity. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Amelia Park Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2022
95 points | $25 | drink to 2026
Winemaker Jeremy Gordon is a gun. Here, the addition of a small portion that was wild yeast fermented in steel barrels has added a dimension of complexity to a wine that has a blend of herbal and tropical fruits fit hand in glove. Margaret River does it again. Screwcap, 12.5% alc.
Amelia Park Trellis Margaret River Chardonnay 2021
94 points | $15 | drink to 2026
Takes advantage of an over-supply of chardonnay fruit. Wild yeast fermented, and matured in French oak for 6 months. What’s the catch, other than a plenitude of Margaret River Chardonnay? It’s varietal, it’s balanced and it’s long. Fantastic value. Screwcap, 12.5% alc.
Dominique Portet Fontaine Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2021
94 points | $26 | drink to 2027
From a single 20-year-old Upper Yarra vineyard, barrel fermented in French oak (10% new) and matured for 9 months on lees. Sells itself short by emphasising its drinkability here and now; while the emphasis is on the fruit, there’s complexity and a minimum five-year life span. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Bleasdale Vineyards Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2022
95 points | $22 | drink to 2024
Mostly fermented cool in tanks; 25% is fermented with high solids and ambient yeasts in used puncheons. It’s arcane magic, giving pinot gris substance and flavour before a long, lemony, bright finish. It goes straight onto my wine list for Chinese restaurants. Screwcap, 13% alc.
La Prova Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio 2022
95 points | $27 | drink to 2026
Hand-picked early; whole bunch-pressed, passive oxidation of juice, slow cool ferment. A little slow out of the blocks, but has cascades of lime, pear and Granny Smith apple on the palate, girdled by crunchy acidity on the lingering finish. Screwcap, 12.5% alc.
Coriole McLaren Vale Piquepoul 2022
93 points | $28 | drink to 2030
This rare variety “has been one of the favourite grape varieties of the Lloyd family [of Coriole in McLaren Vale] for many years”, easily understood once you have tasted this wine, a cross between fiano and marsanne. It has truly delicious and refreshing acidity on its finish. Screwcap, 12% alc.
Primo Estate Adelaide Hills Pecorino 2022
95 points | $30 | drink to 2024
This, says Primo Estate, is the first planting of pecorino in Australia, and it’s rare in Italy, its birth place in Le Marche. If this richly pungent vintage is typical of the variety, there will be a queue for rootlings. Pear, lemongrass, citrus and spice all clamour for attention. Screwcap, 12.5% alc.
Reds Under $40
254 wines submitted
Opens with a pair of delicious real rosés (made from the ground up) and has a once-in-a-lifetime quartet of superb pinot noirs from the 2021 vintage.
Mount Terrible Pinot Noir Rosé 2022
94 points | $25 | drink to 2027
Light but vivid hue. Strawberry/raspberry aromas: purity for short. This has real presence, real pinot fruit. Made from the ground up. Its mouthfeel and texture are also admirable. And don’t be scared of keeping some bottles for a year or two. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Charles Melton Rosé of Virginia 2022
97 points | $32 | drink to 2024
Destemmed, 3-day cold soak; 4-6 week cool fermentation. The vivid magenta hue is, to put it mildly, jaw-dropping. But it’s far more than show; it’s wondrously fruity, yet bone dry, its rainbow of small red berries enough to stop those who “don’t like rosés” in their tracks. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Mike Press Single Vineyard Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2021
94 points | $18 | drink to 2036
Bernard clone 777; the vines are bunch-thinned three times, the wine matured in French oak. Good colour; plum and black cherry fruits have a savoury/earthy bedrock that will repay cellaring for as long as you can keep your hands off it. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Hoddles Creek Estate Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2021
96 points | $25 | drink to 2031
Vivid deep crimson hue. Cherry, raspberry, strawberry all populate the intense but perfectly created pinot, each reflected in a Catherine wheel of pinot noir essence. Hoddles Creek does it again and again. Australia’s best value pinot? Screwcap, 13.2% alc.
Yabby Lake Vineyard Red Claw Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2021
95 points | $35 | drink to 2029
Hand-picked and sorted; open fermented with 10% whole bunches, and matured in used French puncheons. The perfumed spicy, foresty bouquet catches attention, reinforced by the medium-bodied palate where red cherries/berries have the depth of fruit others lack. Screwcap, 13.5% alc.
Helen's Hill Estate Long Walk Single Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2021
94 points | $37 | drink to 2037
The immediately expressive and complex bouquet sets the scene for a delicious pinot in a drink now or later framework. Cherry and rhubarb sits within a spicy, savoury support role. Its balance and length are right on the money. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Shiraz and blends
Wirra Wirra Catapult McLaren Vale Shiraz 2021
95 points | $26 | drink to 2041
The vignerons of McLaren Vale were wildly ecstatic about the ’21 vintage, and finding this wine at this price explains their joy. It’s medium to full-bodied, laden with black fruits of all kinds, dark chocolate, licorice and savoury, ripe tannins. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Sons of Eden Marschall Barossa Valley Shiraz 2021
95 points | $29 | drink to 2036
From six vineyards in six districts, picked between 19 February and 16 March, with a wide range of fermentation techniques, matured in new and used French hogsheads for 14 months. Medium-bodied, smooth and supple, with plum and blackberry fruits, integrated oak and tannins. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Willow Bridge Estate Gravel Pit Geographe Shiraz 2021
96 points | $30 | drink to 2036
Matured in French oak (35% new). Deeply coloured; a wine that always makes light of vintage variation. Thanks to its balance, it’s utterly pleasurable to savour the oak, the generosity of its black fruits, its ripe tannins and its notes of spices and pepper spun throughout. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Frankland Estate Shiraz 2020
95 points | $32 | drink to 2040
Follows in the footsteps of the ’18. While the bouquet and palate alike are richly endowed, the cool continental climate shuts the door on any over-ripe, pudgy fruit characters. So, tannins play along with the black cherry fruit and utterly delicious savoury undertow. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Singlefile Single Vineyard Frankland River Shiraz 2021
96 points | $39 | drink to 2036
Its deep, bright colour hops in early, as it were, to claim the crown, but there’s more to come for this complex, medium-bodied wine. The bouquet has spicy/woody/earthy notes followed by a fruit-dominant palate, with tangy red and black berries to the fore. Screwcap, 14.2% alc.
Longview Vineyard Vista Adelaide Hills Shiraz Barbera 2021
95 points | $25 | drink to 2036
No information on the back label, not even the percentage split. Yet in truth it’s the vintage that is speaking loud and clear, with its red berry and licorice bouquet, dark chocolate even louder on the palate which is 50/50% juicy and savoury. Screwcap, 13.5% alc.
Head Red Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
95 points | $28 | drink to 2036
Elegance is the feature of all the Head Red wines, balance ditto. Drilling down further, Head’s handling of tannin is masterful – as here, at 13.5% alcohol! That’s meant to be impossible, but clearly it’s not. Blackcurrant/cassis floods the mouth, and other fruits (plum) join in. Screwcap, 13.5% alc.
Fallen Giants Grampians Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
96 points | $35 | drink to 2049
The vivid crimson rim flashes a come-here signal for a full-bodied cabernet in the best Grampians style. It is replete with blackcurrant fruit, tannin and oak slotted in the background. It’s a wine that can draw you into its folds, never to emerge. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Hay Shed Hill Morrison's Gift 2020
95 points | $24 | drink to 2030
A blend of Bordeaux’s five varieties that offer a rare mix of juicy and dusty aromas and flavours. While only medium-bodied, the palate and finish are very long, the aftertaste (and the price) mouth-watering, the tannins spicy. Screwcap, 14% alc.
Grenache and grenache blends
Oliver's Taranga Vineyards Small Batch McLaren Vale Grenache 2021
95 points | $32 | drink to 2029
There’s so much excitement about McLaren Vale grenache you can expect to enjoy every offering – and you won’t be disappointed here. Winemaker Corrina Wright (nee Oliver) fills the senses with red fruits, yet does so with a light touch, leaving the mouth fresh. Screwcap, 14% alc.
John Duval Concilio Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz 2021
95 points | $30 | drink to 2036
85% old bush vine (part 100 years old) grenache fermented with 1/3 whole bunches, 50% matured in used French hogsheads, 50% in stainless steel, for eight months. A vibrantly fresh, red-fruited light-bodied wine; what it lacks in body it more than makes up with its elegance and length. Screwcap, 14% alc.
Turkey Flat Butchers Block Red Blend 2019
94 points | $25 | drink to 2029
A blend of grenache, shiraz and mataro, sourced from some (very old) original vines on the property. It’s super-fragrant, with tantalising spices and cured meats (what else?) on the bouquet, and plum on the palate, tannins right where they are needed. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Other Reds and blends
La Prova Adelaide Hills Sangiovese 2021
95 points | $28 | drink to 2030
Wild yeast fermented with over a month on skins to extract the tannins, doing so with skilled restraint. No kick in a private part of the male anatomy. Sure, the wine has a savoury carapace, but there’s its overall impact of cherries of every kind to provide balance. Screwcap, 14% alc.
Coriole McLaren Vale Sangiovese 2021
95 points | $30 | drink to 2041
Coriole’s plantings of sangiovese date back to 1985. This is a three-dimensional wine, the bouquet and palate both attesting to its varietal roots, and taking the opportunity offered by the great vintage, the herbal nuances on the finish adding charisma to the equation. Screwcap, 14.3% alc.
Whites over $30
168 wines submitted
The spoils chiefly shared between eight chardonnays and six rieslings, then two each of Hunter Valley semillon and Margaret River sauvignon blanc, ending with a pinot gris and a grüner veltliner.
Ministry of Clouds Clare Valley Riesling 2022
96 points | $32 | drink to 2042
Free run juice cold-settled and cool fermented. Obviously dodged most of the rain: this has an exceptionally rich, layered and complex palate, acidity piercing the veil of citrus fruit on the lingering finish and aftertaste. Screwcap, 12.3% alc.
Freycinet Riesling 2022
95 points | $35 | drink to 2037
A truly lovely example of East Coast riesling with a long history of success. This has an abundant and fragrant lime/lemon bouquet which is front and centre in the mouth. Tasmanian acidity is there, of course, but it’s folded into the bosom of the fruit. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling 2022
96 points | $39 | drink to 2035
Very much on song with its white flower, apple and lime blossom aromas. While it isn’t the least uncertain in the mouth, it grows rapidly on the back palate and finish, with palpable structure to its lime-drenched flavours and acidity. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Henschke Julius Eden Valley Riesling 2022
97 points | $49 | drink to 2037
This is always a wine of utmost quality. Its flowery, fragrant lime and lemon aromas soar from the glass, the palate with its spear of unsweetened lime and lemon finish and aftertaste underlining its intensity and quality. Screwcap, 12.5% alc.
Jim Barry The Florita Clare Valley Riesling 2021
98 points | $55 | drink to 2051
Transfixes you with the first sip and builds its intensity without effort, its length even more so. Riesling and naked power seldom come to terms with each other, but here the wine’s deep-set layers of steely acidity are underlined with lime/lemon essence through to a finish without end. Screwcap, 12% alc.
Grosset Polish Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2022
97 points | $75 | drink to 2042
As usual, this is finer in every way than its Springvale sibling. The lime blossom-filled bouquet sets the ball rolling, the palate achieving the seeming impossible of simultaneously presenting delicacy and intensity, the riddle solved by its balance (and its vintage). Screwcap, 12.9% alc.
De Iuliis Aged Release Single Vineyard Hunter Valley Semillon 2017
97 points | $50 | drink to 2032
Only 150 dozen. Aged? Prime of its life, with yet more to come. It was an excellent vintage, and the wine is perfectly poised with its elegance and balance. The first signs of honey are on display in its mouth-watering, citrus-infused, lingering finish. Screwcap, 11% alc.
Mount Pleasant Lovedale Hunter Valley Semillon 2017
97 points | $90 | drink to 2032
Bright, but deep, straw-green; from Block LO-07. The wine immediately presses the pleasure button. While it will continue to develop for years, the balance of youthful freshness and the honeyed toast is impeccable now. The price is totally justified. Screwcap, 11% alc.
Domaine Naturaliste Sauvage Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc 2021
96 points | $35 | drink to 2029
Barrel fermented in new and used French puncheons which contribute to both the flavour and texture of this very appealing wine. It’s savoury and dry, but the lemon zest and fruit flavours are the prime movers in showing what can be done even in a vintage that wasn’t easy. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Windows Estate Petit Lot La Terre 2021
96 points | $39 | drink to 2030
Hand-picked sauvignon blanc fermented in clay eggs and barrel, a small portion on skins; 70% matured in used French barriques, 30% in clay eggs. Has tremendous complexity and intensity, reaching a high point on the finish of the palate with lemon zest and electrifying acidity. Screwcap, 12% alc.
Dappled Appellation Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2021
96 points | $37 | drink to 2030
Apart from Dappled’s usual minimal SO2 (nothing else added) declaration, this is an impeccably balanced and pure chardonnay that has highlighted the opening of the Peacock’s Tail on its soaring finish. White peach, pink grapefruit and cashew provide the flavour. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Mewstone Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay 2021
96 points | $37 | drink to 2031
Sourced from the north west, Derwent and Coal River Valleys, pressed direct to barrel for a wild yeast fermentation and lees maturation. The immediately complex bouquet leads into a vibrantly crisp palate with a particularly satisfying finish nourished by vibrato acidity. Grew and grew. Screwcap, 13.2% alc.
Murdoch Hill The Tilbury Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2021
95 points | $51 | drink to 2036
Winemaker, Michael Downer, son of owners Charlie and Julie, has made an immediately attractive wine, with fresh, vibrant varietal fruit in the grapefruit/white peach spectrum. Oak is a minor contributor, acidity an important driver to the finish and aftertaste. All up purity. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Dawson & James Chardonnay 2019
97 points | $64 | drink to 2039
Hand-picked ex Meadowbank vineyard in the Derwent Valley. Whole bunch-pressed, and seems to have the secret of eternal youth, poised on the midpoint of citrus (grapefruit) and stone fruit (white peach). High quality French oak has been absorbed into the fabric of the wine. Screwcap, 13.2% alc.
Hoddles Creek Estate 1er Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2021
98 points | $65 | drink to 2041
The bouquet is ethereal yet arrests attention, but it’s the amazing intensity of the wine on the palate that’s breathtaking. The grapefruit/white peach duo meet their match with the electrifying acidity, creating layers of flavour that are welded together, yet never say too much. Screwcap, 13.2% alc.
Geoff Weaver Aged Release Lenswood Chardonnay 2013
97 points | $70 | drink to 2027
Chilled before whole bunch-pressing, 50% mlf, matured for 12 months in French barriques (50% new, 50% second use). Gleaming yellow-green hue; grapefruit, apple and white peach drive the very expressive and complex palate. A rare chance to see a nine year-old chardonnay. Screwcap, 13% alc.
The Lane Vineyard Heritage Chardonnay 2021
97 points | $100 | drink to 2036
Wild yeast fermented, matured for 9 months in French oak (86% new). This is in a class of its own – balance, line, length; the varietal expression is in that midway point between stone fruit (white peach) and citrus (grapefruit) bolstered by the natural acidity of a classic vintage. Screwcap, 12.8% alc.
Penfolds Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2021
97 points | $125 | drink to 2036
Fermented and matured in French barriques (50% new, 22% one year old). This wastes no time in establishing its extreme quality – and complexity. It is a complete wine, its power, focus and length welded together, white peach and pink grapefruit allied with a shaft of cleansing acidity. Screwcap, 12.5% alc.
Scotchmans Hill Bellarine Peninsula Pinot Gris 2021
96 points | $38 | drink to 2025
35% wild yeast fermented in used French barriques, 5 months on lees, 65% fermented in tank at 13C, lees contact for four months. An intensely flavoured and complex pinot gris; has a pear, citrus and minerally palate that finishes as emphatically as the first sip. Screwcap, 12.5% alc.
Hahndorf Hill Gru Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner 2022
96 points | $32 | drink to 2033
A very complex wine with a starting point of six clones, with multiple fermentation and maturation pathways. A distinct swish of perfume and cinnamon spice on the bouquet; the palate is mouth filling to begin, but then swells aromatically to the finish and lingering aftertaste. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Reds Over $40
304 wines submitted
The list has the widest possible spread of wineries (20), vintages (4) and varieties (4).
Oakridge Vineyard Series Willowlake Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2021
97 points | $45 | drink to 2035
Whole berry/bunch open fermentation for three weeks; matured for 10 months in French oak. A beautiful, balanced pinot, the red cherry/berry fragrance is mirrored by the palate, where delicate but clear savoury notes of spice are woven through the red fruit palate and aftertaste. Screwcap, 13.2% alc.
TarraWarra Estate Reserve Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2020
96 points | $65 | drink to 2030
Bright and clear colour. Exotic Eastern spices make for a striking and appealing bouquet, the voluminous palate every it as attractive as the bouquet. Red berries, spice, cold tea, complex cinnamon and pomegranate all contribute, as do super-fine tannins. Screwcap, 13.5% alc.
Bream Creek Reserve Pinot Noir 2019
97 points | $70 | drink to 2034
This has a typical Tasmanian extra level of everything: colour, aroma and varietal fruit flavour. Perfumed purple fruits lead into an immaculately balanced and proportioned wine opening majestically (the peacock’s tail) on the finish and aftertaste. Something special. Screwcap, 14% alc.
Giant Steps Applejack Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2021
98 points | $70 | drink to 2041
The colour isn’t deep, but is crystal clear. The perfumed bouquet is filled with violets and scents of the forest floor, the palate utterly extraordinary in its intensity. It is primarily driven by its fruits of cherry and plum, but also the sheen of mouth-watering tannins. Screwcap, 13.5% alc.
Tapanappa Definitus Foggy Hill Pinot Noir 2019
97 points | $90 | drink to 2039
Bramble, briar and black tea aromatics set the scene for a very complex pinot that needs encouragement to release its perfume. Len Evans might well have used his expression of “an old lady’s handbag” with this silky pinot, joining the ’17 as the best of the Foggy Hill pinots to date. Cork, 13% alc.
Shiraz and syrah
Paralian Springs Hill Vineyard Blewitt Springs McLaren Vale Shiraz 2021
97 points | $42 | drink to 2041
22% whole bunch foot-trod, the remainder destemmed whole berry, chilled five-day cold soak, 11 days on skins, 10% juice run off, 11 months maturation in French oak. A resplendent palate, pulsating with essence of blackberries, dark chocolate, licorice, ripe tannins and sweet earth. Screwcap, 14% alc.
Bondar Rayner Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz 2021
97 points | $48 | drink to 2051
Deep, brooding crimson-purple. This is a faithful reproduction of variety and place of the highest quality. It’s velvet in the mouth, and mines all the black fruits, dark chocolate, licorice and spice hoped for. The tannins are polished, the oak absorbed by the fruit. Screwcap, 14% alc.
Hentley Farm The Beauty Barossa Valley Shiraz 2020
96 points | $70 | drink to 2040
Co-fermented with a small portion of viognier which has added vinous speed to a yearling racehorse. It is light, lively and refreshing with its red fruits standing up to the black. Its tannins are also remarkable in their taste and structure, producing this elegant wine. Whoopee. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Purple Hands Planta Circa Ancestor Vine Barossa Valley Shiraz 2019
97 points | $80 | drink to 2044
Planted circa 1880 by P.F. Zimmermann. Deliberately minimal winemaking input, except the all-important decision to pick while the baume was sub-14. It’s medium-bodied, with gently spicy nuances woven through the black cherry/blackberry fruit in liaison with silken tannins. Diam, 14% alc.
Bekkers McLaren Vale Syrah 2019
98 points | $120 | drink to 2050
The colour is deep and still youthful, three-plus years along its journey. The complex bouquet is so multifaceted it’s a challenge to describe. Game, Eastern spices, black cherry and licorice move backwards and forwards across the palate and bouquet. Aboriginal dot painting stuff. Screwcap, 14% alc.
Flaxman Estate Eden Valley Shiraz 2019
95 points | $120 | drink to 2040
From vines over 80 years old. It’s superb fruit, handled with appropriate respect and care. The vintage was very good, fruit ripeness where you would wish it to be. The only problem is that demand has far outpaced supply, with only 50 dozen made. Screwcap, 13.5% alc.
Maverick Ahrens' Creek Ancestor Vine Barossa Valley Shiraz 2020
97 points | $320 | drink to 2050
The vines were planted by then newly arrived migrant Mick Ahrens and, as old vines can do, sailed through the at times challenging vintage. This is a beautiful shiraz, medium-bodied with its deep river of dark chocolate, blackberry fruit, filigreed tannins and positive oak. Diam, 14% alc.
Hay Shed Hill Block 2 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
98 points | $60 | drink to 2049
Block 2 was planted in 1973. Glorious colour, elegance and finesse to burn. Open fermented, 10-day post ferment maceration, 18 months in French barriques (40% new). A beautifully crafted wine, capturing all that the great fruit had to offer. Treads oh-so-lightly, but with infinite power. Screwcap, 12% alc.
Cherubino Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
97 points | $75 | drink to 2040
It’s not common to describe a two-year-old cabernet as charming, indeed sensual, but this is what you get here. There’s juicy cassis fruit, quality cedary French oak, and perfectly pitched tannins. Moreover, it will gain in richness and complexity over the next 10-15 years.
Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Thompson Estate The Specialist Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
97 points | $90 | drink to 2040
The love affair between Margaret River and cabernet sauvignon is evident in this wine. The bouquet is fragrant and flowery, the medium-bodied palate supple and juicy, cassis to the fore, but backed by finely balanced, ripe tannins. There’s oak present, but you don’t notice it. Screwcap, 14% alc.
Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
98 points | $150 | drink to 2054
It spent 16 months in French oak (31% new). This is a wine of extraordinary quality. Small wonder Sue Hodder says it’s “amongst the best wines we have made”. It is medium-bodied, and so agile in the mouth, no one flavour dominates at any stage of its consumption. Screwcap, 13.5% alc.
Cullen Diana Madeline 2020
98 points | $150 | drink to 2055
A perfumed bouquet, the purity of the fruit in a cassis/redcurrant/blueberry spectrum. The small berries of a quasi-drought summer might have imposed awkward tannins, but the medium-bodied palate is so perfectly balanced it has a drinking span of 30 years and counting. Screwcap, 13% alc.
Grenache and grenache blends
Yangarra Estate Vineyard Old Vine Blewitt Springs Grenache 2021
97 points | $45 | drink to 2041
Wild yeast, open fermented and basket pressed. Bright clear though deep crimson hue; scented/perfumed, and I’m gone for all money without even tasting it. Its red fruit sundae glistens with dew drops on a spider’s web, yet also has a savoury echo towards the finish. Screwcap, 14.5% alc.
Swinney Farvie Frankland River Grenache 2020
97 points | $150 | drink to 2030
Grenache’s reach grows from Victoria to Western Australia. This is a wine of utmost clarity and purity, its perfumed red flower and violet bouquet extremely good, the precision and clarity of the juicy red berries/cherries even better, mouth-watering and lingering, but never sweet. Screwcap, 14% alc.
DogRock El Rojo 2018
96 points | $65 | drink to 2030
A perfumed glass of sheer delight, singing from the rooftops, demanding to be opened and consumed now. From Victoria’s Pyrenees, the wine is only light-bodied, but the blend of grenache, shiraz and graciano, supported by an airy breeze of gently savoury spices, gives the wine remarkable intensity and length. Screwcap, 13.5% alc.
59 wines submitted
Eight Australian sparklings chosen: six vintage dated, two non vintage; all made using the traditional method of fermentation in the bottle. Labour intensive and expensive.
Seppelt Salinger Methode Traditionnelle Henty Vintage Cuvée 2017
96 points | $30 | drink to 2026
A 52/42/6% blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier that trumpets the ultra cool region, spending four years on tirage. The vintage was wet and cool, but disease free. The wine has developed yet more intensity to its Meyer lemon fruit base, the length of the palate exceptional. Bargain of the year. Cork, 10.5% alcohol.
Jansz Tasmania Non Vintage Premium Rosé NV
92 points | $30 | drink to 2024
A pale, blush pink blend of pinot noir (77%) and chardonnay (23%) that spends a minimum of 18 months on tirage. A fragrant and fresh bouquet leads into a strawberry-infused palate that is both well balanced and long. The dosage has been the masterstroke for a wine bred to please. Diam, 12% alcohol.
Sidewood Estate Methode Traditionelle Adelaide Hills Chloe Cuvée 2015
94 points | $32 | drink to 2024
Bright quartz-green hue. A 60/40% blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, both Dijon clones, traditional method, minimum of 36 months on lees. Its bouquet offers evocative cherry and mandarin blossom, the palate with a fresh vibrant finish. The very upmarket packaging adds to its appeal. Diam, 12% alcohol.
Pirie Traditional Method Non Vintage NV
94 points | $35 | drink to 2027
A 55/45% blend of chardonnay and pinot noir sourced from the Tamar Valley with small amounts from earlier vintages matured in used French oak. Second fermentation in bottle with two years on lees prior to disgorgement. It’s as fresh as a daisy, the palate long, the finish and aftertaste nodding their heads in agreement. Diam, 12% alcohol.
Chandon Australia Vintage Blanc de Blancs 2016
96 points | $39 | drink to 2024
Largely estate-grown fruit – 71% percent from Whitlands, 21% from Strathbogie, and 9% from the Upper Yarra. A traditional method that spent 42 months on lees, disgorged Mar ’20. Has developed superbly since first tasted in September ’20, filling out a little, with fresh grapefruit grapefruit nuances and a clean finish. Diam, 12.5% alcohol.
Kreglinger Vintage Brut 2017
95 points | $60 | drink to 2030
An estate-grown blend of pinot noir (60%) and chardonnay (40%); hand-picked and whole bunch-pressed, fermented in barrel with mlf; secondary ferment and maturation in bottle for over three years. Pure and wonderfully racy, it’s equally ready for drinking today or in another five years. Cork, 12.5% alcohol.
Bellebonne Natalie Fryar Blanc de Blancs 2015
96 points | $110 | drink to 2026
Natalie Fryar was the winemaker at Jansz (part of the Yalumba group) for 14 years, squirrelling away micro releases of wine made from sites across the Pipers River district. This wine has luscious and wholly seductive array of brioche, lemon tart and citrus flavours, given structure by fresh acidity.
Diam, 12% alcohol.
House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2007
99 points | $266 | drink to 2027
Disgorged February ’22, and sold at an eminently fair price. This wine is at the peak of Australia’s sparkling wine category, its complexity riveting, its line and length likewise. It deserves a place at the top of the wine lists of the best restaurants, but can double up as an aperitif thanks to its perfectly balanced acidity. Cork, 12.5% alcohol.
44 wines submitted
The LVMH Group did not submit any champagnes (no reason given), but those distributors that did included six glorious grand marque wines and six champagnes with mouth-wateringly modest prices.
Champagne Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top Brut NV
89 points | $60 | drink to 2024
From the third Heidsieck-named house, Charles and Piper the other two, and better known than this. Light straw-green; well balanced and long; citrus blossom, Granny Smith apple, good mouthfeel and length. Cork, 12.5% alcohol.
Champagne Duval-Leroy Brut Réserve NV
91 points | $70 | drink to 2024
A 60/30/10% blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay; the full straw colour reflecting the blend, not the age. Savoury texture; good length; overdelivers, perfect balance; complex aftertaste again reflecting its pinots make-up. Cork, 12% alcohol.
Champagne Pommery Brut Royal NV
92 points | $75 | drink to 2024
Made with equal quantities of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier; encompassing 40 crus – resulting in powerful texture and structure. A step up the ladder in style thanks to three years on tirage. Cork, 12.5% alcohol.
Vve Fourny & Fils Grande Réserve Vertus Premier Cru Brut NV
94 points | $80 | drink to 2024
An 80/20% blend of chardonnay and pinot noir; three consecutive vintages, 40% reserve wines, kept in oak; disgorged January ’22, 6g/l dosage. The winemakers have nailed the components to the mast: it’s an exercise in purity and elegance – and exceptional value. Diam, 12% alcohol.
Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Cuis 1er Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs NV
93 points | $90 | drink to 2024
Côte de blancs; 67.5% 2019 vintage, 32.5% reserve wines from 2010-2018; disgorged November ’21, 6g/l dosage. The flowery white blossom bouquet, and grapefruit accented palate, keep the tradition of this style; generosity and depth. Diam, 12.5% alcohol.
Champagne JmSélèque Solessence Extra Brut NV
94 points | $110 | drink to 2024
A 50/40/10% blend of chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir; 50% reserve wines; vines average 40 years old; disgorged October ’21, 2g/l dosage. Striking straw-green hue; a wine very much to my personal taste as an aperitif; Meyer lemon fruit fills the long, lingering, bright finish. Cork, 12.5% alcohol.
Champagne Ayala Le Blanc de Blancs 2015
96 points | $145 | drink to 2024
From Côte des Blancs, good soil moisture prevented stress from the warm and dry vintage; disgorged July ’21, low dosage of 2g/l. This is a totally delicious and fresh wine, balanced by many years on lees, and a fine line of honey within minerally acidity. Cork, 12% alcohol.
Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV
96 points | $150 | drink to 2024
Composed with 30% from each of pinot noir and pinot meunier, and 40% chardonnay. It has 40% reserve wine, and spends three years on tirage. It is the go-to rosé for wine professionals, with nuances of juicy/poached red berry fruits, yet finishes dry and fresh. Diam, 12% alcohol.
Champagne Pol Roger Pure Extra Brut NV
96 points | $150 | drink to 2024
Equal proportions of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier; zero dosage. The absence of dosage in no way threatens the length, body or balance of a beautiful wine. Pol Roger has long been a favourite of mine, but is making even better wines across a broad range of styles. Cork, 12.5% alcohol.
Champagne Bollinger La Grande Année 2014
98 points | $270 | drink to 2024
This classic blend of pinot noir and chardonnay (61/39%) is drawn from 19 crus, the base wine fermented in oak on tirage until disgorged October ’21. A superb wine, with ultimate balance between the robust pinot noir and airy freshness of the chardonnay; great length, too. Cork, 12% alcohol.
Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal 2014
97 points | $475 | drink to 2030
A 60/40% blend of 100% estate pinot noir and chardonnay. Despite the white glass bottle, wrapped in orange cellophane, Cristal is built to be very long lived. It utilises the oldest, lowest yielding (half the permitted yield) estate vines. The result is a wine of intense power and length. Cork, 12% alcohol.
Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Brut 2013
99 points | $480 | drink to 2030
Churchill drank Pol Roger – lots of it. Its cépage has never been released but it is believed to be over 60% pinot noir. 2013 was a good vintage, the acidity a highlight. Here it has been the foundation of the freshness and imperious length of a very great champagne, second only to the 2008. Cork, 12.5% alcohol.
James writes a weekly column for The Weekend Australian.