100 BEST AUSTRALIAN WINES – 2005
NV Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Rosé £7.99
A triumphant début for this delightful, cheery, cherry-red rosé – it is the definition of a crowd-pleaser.
NV Bay of Fires Sparkling, Tasmania £12.99
Baby Arras, and it is every bit as good as we hoped it would be. Terrific value.
2001 Green Point ZD, Vic £12.99
Tony Jordan’s maverick brain has given us a crown-cap-sealed, zero dosage beauty. Any good? Of course it is.
2000 Jansz Premium Vintage Cuvée, Tasmania £14.99
There is a lot of wine in this bottle, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Blind, this is a £25 wine.
2003 Hollick Sparkling Merlot, Coonawarra, SA £13.75
Juicy, berry-driven, almost comedic fruit, which proves, for the first time, that you can drink sparkling red all day, everyday.
fresh & crisp
2004 Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise, McLaren Vale, SA £7.99
Scrubby is a Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon / Viognier blend and its mercurial charm is all encompassing.
2004 Ashbrook Semillon, Margaret River, WA £9.95
Nervy, jagged, icicle sharp Semillon, with a neon green bolt of acidity running down its sleek spine.
2004 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, SA £9.95
The best SSSB for years, with oodles of nerve and attitude.
2004 Tyrrell’s Lost Block Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW £9.99
We have found it now, thank goodness – early drinking, waxy, honey and lime blossom – a classic.
2004 TK Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, SA £9.99
Back in the saddle, Tim Knappstein has effortlessly strolled into this list with his iconic, benchmark Sauvignon.
2004 Keith Tulloch Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW £11.99
Drink it now or keep it for a decade, the choice is yours. Either way this is a gem, with goose-pimple inducing purity.
2002 The Lane Gathering, Adelaide Hills, SA £13.99
83% Sauvignon / 17% Semillon and a touch of barrel-work = Australia’s most intellectual answer to the Loire’s finest.
succulent & aromatic
2004 McPherson Verdelho, Murray Darling, Vic £5.49
Crunchy pineapple chunk fruit, with pink grapefruit and juicy melon moments – this wine is a dream.
2004 Chapel Hill Verdelho, McLaren Vale, SA £7.99
The tightly corseted flavours give you a glimpse of their charms as you unravel this wine in the glass – totally hypnotic.
2004 Leasingham Magnus Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £7.49
Pound for pound, this is one of the greatest dry Rieslings in the world. Everyone should try it once, and I bet you won’t stop there.
2004 Tim Adams Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £7.99
An olfactory treat – a stroll in a lime grove. Tim doesn’t shout about it, but he makes terrific Riesling.
2004 Knappstein Three, Clare Valley, SA £7.99
Paul Smith has come up with this fascinating Gewurztraminer / Riesling / Pinot Gris blend, which is set to blaze a remarkable trail.
2004 d’Arenberg Money Spider Roussanne, McLaren Vale, SA £8.49
It is a joy to taste this remarkably self-assured, balletic Roussanne. While I don’t doubt it will age well, it tastes amazing right now.
2004 Pewsey Vale Riesling, Eden Valley, SA £8.99
A fantastic testament to the inherent value afforded by Australian Riesling – this is the perfect Eden example.
2004 Petaluma Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £9.99
I have described this wine in the past as ‘masochistically beautiful’. The 2004 is maniacally breathtaking.
2004 TK Riesling, Clare Valley / Adelaide Hills, SA £9.99
This clever 75% Clare Valley / 25% Adelaide Hills Riesling is one of the most complete wines I have tasted this year.
2004 Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier , Eden Valley, SA £9.99
As the years go by this wine beds in more and more and shows that Australia can rival the greats with this flamboyant variety.
2000 Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling, Eden Valley, SA £10.99
Stunning value and awesome complexity underpin this historic wine. Give it time in the glass and you will experience layer upon layer of fruit.
2004 Joseph Pinot Grigio, Adelaide Plains, SA £11.99
Macho PG for the real metrosexual out there – this is a hearty, no messin’ wine for ‘gentlemen who lunch’.
2003 Mitchelton Airstrip, Nagambie Lakes, Vic £11.99
Airstrip is a Marsanne / Roussanne / Viognier blend and it takes the best elements of each variety and splices them together with consummate skill. The result is a wine that kick-starts your cortex.
2004 Tempus Two Pewter Pinot Gris, King Valley, Vic £12.99
Sarah-Kate Dineen has shocked me with this startlingly pure and varietally precise PG. Friuli should be watching very closely.
2002 Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling, Eden Valley, SA £14.99
At last, this legendary wine will be sold in the UK, and what an amazing vintage to launch – cue fanfare.
2002 Leasingham Classic Clare Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £16.99
Kerri Thompson’s greatest vinous achievement is total and utter class in a glass – iridescent, exquisite and mesmerising.
rich & structured
2004 McPherson Chardonnay , Murray Darling, Vic £5.99
McPherson does it again, with this finely crafted, budget Chardonnay. Clever, balanced, accurate and enjoyable – every box ticked.
2004 De Bortoli Gulf Station Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic £7.95
Finely tuned, intriguingly layered and sympathetically oaked, this is a delicious wine that deserves a much wider audience.
2002 Willows Semillon, Barossa Valley, SA £9.99
Blood and guts Semillon, which wears its heart on its sleeve. Admire this wine for its lemon balm and lanolin bravado.
2003 Wirra Wirra Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, SA £9.99
Not somewhere I’d expected to find one of my highest scoring Chardonnays of the year, but Sam Connew has played a blinder and this wine is stunning
2003 Green Point Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic £9.99
Tony Jordan has been finessing this wine for years – it is now absolutely spot on. The value afforded here is incredible.
2002 The Gum Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, SA £12.99
An M&S own label that, behind the scenes, originates from The Lane, the spectacular Edwards family property – exhilarating.
2003 Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, SA £15.95
Tightening year after year and with more sensitive barrel treatment, this wine is fleshy, ripe, succulent and moreish – a real treat.
2002 Hardys Eileen Hardy Chardonnay £15.99
One of Australia’s best value white wines. This is a Grand Cru offering, with every facet of the outstanding Chardonnay grape on display. Buy it – you’ll see what you’ve been missing.
2003 Domaine A Lady A Fumé Blanc, Tasmania £20.00
Australia’s finest fully-oaked Sauvignon Blanc, with a demonic nose and shocking intensity on the palate – one for purists, but undoubtedly an icon wine.
2002 Cullen Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA £24.95
Vanya Cullen has bettered last year’s 100 Best entry – I didn’t think it was possible. Jaw-dropping precision and heroic potential.
2002 Penfold’s Yattarna Chardonnay £29.99
The best Yattarna ever; sealed with a screwcap – nuff said!
2004 De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir Rosé, Yarra Valley, Vic £6.99
Heavenly rosé, trickling down from the Reserve Pinot, which also makes this list – just-crushed fraise des bois nose and gossamer palate.
2004 Turkey Flat Rosé, Barossa Valley, SA £8.99
Australia’s most balanced and complex rosé, which can either be drunk straight from the bottle on a picnic, or at the Waterside with grouse.
2004 Swan Bay Pinot Noir, Scotchmans Hill, Geelong, Vic £7.99
New Zealand will need to be very concerned if more budget Pinots like this emerge from Australia. Simply brilliant.
2004 Tamar Ridge Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tasmania £8.49
Just like busses, here is another one, and it is Nuits to Swan Bay’s Beaune – brilliant work, from a star estate.
2003 Nepenthe Charleston Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, SA £11.99
Apparently subject to a 3 for 2, so the price works out at £7.99! Regardless, this is a lovely, lush, mellow, densely flavoured Pinot.
2003 De Bortoli Reserve Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic £14.99
Beautiful, flashy, organza- and tuille-wearing lusciousness in a glass – this is a wine you want to dance with.
2003 Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic £15.99
Firm, grown-up and very confident, this is Geraldine McFaul’s pièce de résistance.
2002 TK Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, SA £17.99
This Lenswood Pinot Noir is cool, long, savoury and compact, and it is also very, very serious.
2001 Domaine A Pinot Noir, Tasmania £25.99
The structured, wild cherry and damson fruit is supported by fantastic oak and ample backbone – Peter Althaus’s glorious wine demands an evangelical following.
2002 Pipers Brook Reserve Pinot Noir, Tasmania £29.99
With an alluring scent and powerful initial attack on the palate, this is a wine that takes no prisoners. It can confidently stand shoulder to shoulder with any Pinot on the planet.
cabernet & merlot
2003 Preece Merlot, Nagambie Lakes, Vic £6.99
With an unexpected extra dimension of red fruit, that rebounds off the back palate, this is a surprising and downright delicious wine.
2003 Cumulus Rolling Cabernet / Merlot, Orange, NSW £6.99
Philip Shaw’s intricate craftsmanship is on display in this inexpensive, yet grippingly impressive red blend. Orange’s future looks rosy.
2002 Katnook Founders Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA £8.99
Rebadged Riddoch? It certainly doesn’t taste like it – this is very exciting, blackcurrant-imbued Coonawarra, with serious complexity.
2002 Peter Lehmann Light Pass Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley, SA £11.49
A 100 Best Cabernet, from Shiraz expert Lehmann, surely some mistake? Absolutely, categorically not – Andrew Wigan has made a genuine, future classic.
2004 Boycat Merlot by Linda Domas, McLaren Vale, SA £11.99
Extraterrestrial fruit concentration, with leaf, briar, plum and mulberry all jostling for attention – mind-boggling.
2002 Rosemount Traditional, McLaren Vale, SA £11.99
The most ‘classic’ Classic for years – this forgotten model should be dusted down and reintroduced to your friends – it is an exceptionally fine wine.
2002 Wirra Wirra Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, SA £12.49
2002 Cabernets are so clean and fit and Wirra’s is a perfect example of why we should all readjust our sights on this noble variety Down Under.
2003 Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, SA £13.50
A ripsnortingly impressive début vintage in the UK, with masses of dark fruit and well-judged oak seasoning – this wine casts a long shadow.
2002 Knappstein Single Vineyard Enterprise Cabernet, Clare Valley, SA £14.99
Errol Flynn in a glass. Tall, chiselled, handsome and ever so charming. Enterprise is a beauty and you’ll want to drag it home at the first chance you get (girls!).
2001 Parker Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA £15.00
With very intense fruit, highly-tuned oak and a supercharged finish, this is everything you’d want from a Parker Cabernet – except that it is half the price you’d usually shell out for the pleasure!
weird and wonderful
2003 JJ McWilliam’s Shiraz / Cabernet, SEA £4.98
Come one, come all, and have a go at this happy, bright, open, cheeky red blend. No pretence, no smoke and mirrors, just bringing the fun back into wine.
2004 St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve, Barossa Valley, SA £5.99
Schizophrenic red from Matt Gant – on the one hand a frenzied glugger, on the other a one thousand-piece jigsaw! Brilliant, inspirational, zany and addictive.
2004 Rutherglen Estate Durif, Rutherglen, Vic £6.99
Two years in a row, for this crispy aromatic duck partnering wine. Fabulous value and unashamedly tongue in cheek – this is a cracker (prawn cracker?).
2002 Leasingham Magnus Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley, SA £7.99
Why this model blend is not augmented into a super cuvée is beyond me. The fruit in this wine is heavenly and the finish is minutes long – total synergy.
2002 Pirramimma Petit Verdot, McLaren Vale, SA £9.49
PV Kings Pirramimma have harnessed some of the more deranged elements in this menacing variety, thanks to the cool 2002 vintage, and made an inky, imposing, yet convivial wine.
2004 Pondalowie MT – Tempranillo, Bendigo, Vic £12.50
I have held off weird varietals in Oz for ages, but my resistance is now futile, as MT is a charmer – black fruit, spice and leather combine to produce a honed, genial wine.
2002 Longview Black Crow Nebbiolo, Adelaide Hills, SA £12.55
Fabulous fruit, grown with the utmost care and attention, it is no surprise that Duncan MacGillivray’s vineyards are now hitting the high notes. This Neb is a dreamboat.
2004 Godolphin by Ben Glaetzer, Barossa Valley, SA £24.95
This is the earth-shatteringly brilliant younger brother to Amon-Ra, and it’s a hedonistic Shiraz / Cabernet blend. Where Amon-Ra is, admittedly, totally over the top, Godolphin is near perfection.
shiraz, grenache & mourvèdre
2003 Heartland Shiraz, SA £7.95
Ben Glaetzer’s entry level Shiraz is really rocking in 2003. This wine has always been great, but the work that has gone into the ’03 is staggering – a model SA Shiraz.
2004 Wakefield Estate Shiraz, Clare Valley, SA £7.99
The dark, deep, chocolate and plumcake fruit is sumptuously appointed in this innocently labelled bottle. This is one find that you really want to keep to yourself.
2004 Brunato Vineyards Shiraz by Linda Domas, McLaren Vale, SA £8.99
Chunky, honest, bright and affable, this is a slice of fantastic, old vine McLaren Vale Shiraz for fraction of its true worth.
2002 d’Arenberg Custodian Grenache, McLaren Vale, SA £8.99
’02 Custodian is a Vivienne Westwood creation –decadent, Regency glamour with a pompadour quiff and a flick-knife up its sleeve.
2002 Penfold’s Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £9.99
This is one of Australia’s unsung heroes and I challenge anyone in the world to build such an immediately appealing, yet eminently age-worthy Shiraz. It can’t be done, can it?
2002 Heritage Shiraz Barossa Valley, SA £11.49
Steve Hoff in a tutu – a worrying sight, but that is what the cool 2002 vintage has done to his cult wine. The result is a bare-knuckle bruiser with a diploma from a Swiss finishing school – awesome.
2002 Eldredge Blue Chip Shiraz, Clare Valley, SA £11.99
A virtual unknown in the UK, but an estate with their finger on the pulse and a palate for balance – the seamless flavour, rolls on and on and on – in fact it is still going.
2002 Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz, Heathcote, Vic £11.99
There is too much hot air circulating about Heathcote. That is, until you taste a wine like this and then want not only to drink the wines, but live there, too.
2003 Peter Lehmann Futures Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £11.99
‘Wigs’ has further improved on the Futures recipe and made a remarkably impressive wine in 2003. This is one for the cellar, but it’s a guaranteed blue chip investment in your palate’s well being.
2003 Fox Gordon Eight Uncles Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £12.49
Tash Mooney proves that she is one of Australia’s most talented young winemakers – Eight Uncles is a wine that defines the variety and its origins – perfect in every way.
2002 St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £12.99
Blackwell ’02 is more than just a wine – it is a statement that St Hallett is committed to burying as much complexity in a wine as can possibly be achieved. Drink this when you feel you are able to cope with a colossal onslaught of flavour.
2003 Battle of Bosworth Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA £13.99
Joch Bosworth is regarded by his peers as an off the wall, viticultural genius – this is the fruit of his labours. From the vineyard to your glass in one move – epic.
2003 De Bortoli Estate Shiraz / Viognier, Yarra Valley, Vic £14.99
This is one of the finest of the new wave of S/V blends, and it’s one that doesn’t pulverise your wallet. Steve Webber has an Old World palate and this wine is fashioned for the globe-trotting wine lover.
2001 Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz, Clare Valley, SA £14.99
Yippee – a huge, spanky, full-on, guffawing wine, with masses of fruit and yet, total balance. I have no idea how they do it – I just love it that they do!
2001 Dalwhinnie Shiraz, Moonambel, Vic £17.95
Brilliant, brilliant, coolish climate Shiraz – aromatherapeutic and organoleptically Olympic. David Jones’s wines have, in the space of one vintage, become some of Australia’s most sought after bottles.
2002 Tim Adams Aberfeldy Shiraz, Clare Valley, SA £18.99
I am not sure Tim thought he would ever make this wine. The coolest vintage in history, and one of the most elegant, old vineyards in South Australia – buy it, keep it and savour every drop.
2002 Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz, SA £18.99
I reckon that this first class Barossa / Clare / McLaren Vale blend is a definitive Blass wine. They do this clever ‘wine-building’ exercise very, very well.
2002 Torbreck The Steading Barossa Valley, SA £18.99
Dave Powell and Dan Standish have really tightened this wine up. ’02 Steading is a monumental achievement made all the more glorious by its temptress-like flashes of flesh – amazing.
2002 d’Arenberg Ironstone Pressings, McLaren Vale, SA £22.50
Big statement time – this is the highest scoring wine I have ever tasted from d’Arenberg. Ironstone is a 70% Grenache / 25% Shiraz / 5% Mourvèdre and it is sublime. Buy every bottle you can find.
2003 Yering Station Reserve Shiraz / Viognier, Yarra Valley, Vic £24.99
With less Viognier and more edge, this is the wine that puts Yering on the world stage. Welcome to the carousel, you belong.
2001 Penfold’s St Henri Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £24.99
Extraordinary complexity and (please forgive me) a ridiculously small price tag for the cosmic goings on in the glass. This is one of the world’s most important Syrahs and, thank God, it is relatively accessible to us mere mortals.
2003 Two Hands Lily’s Garden Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA £25.99
There is a slickness and presence about this wine that is magnetic. Smooth, fit, toned and muscular, this is the Sergei Bubka of the Shiraz world.
2003 Mitolo Savitar Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA £27.95
A purring Bentley – Connolly leather, six litres, a Flying Spur! Bathe in this ridiculously luxurious wine and lose yourself.
1999 Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £29.99
‘Crunched up tractors’ – winemaker Andrew Wigan’s tasting note. I can’t improve on this.
2002 The Relic Standish Wine Co., Barossa Valley, SA £36.00
The Prince – this is what happens when a young man picks up an epée for the first time and finds the balance and weight to his liking – devastating.
2001 Yalumba Octavius Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £39.99
Octavius has always looked smart, but in 2001 it truly delivers its message – single minded, almost obsessive dedication to rewarding the drinker with fantastic, broad brush strokes of flavour, without losing its footing. It works.
2002 Penfold’s RWT Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £39.99
I never thought that RWT could look so polished and controlled. DO NOT APPROACH – this is a cold-blooded assassin, and you will be compromised in a moment.
2002 Grant Burge Abednego, Barossa Valley, SA £40.00
An approximate third each of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with a liberal dusting of Grant Burge magic and you have what can only be described as an era changing wine. I have known Abednego since it was born and it is a thoroughbred stallion.
2003 Woodstock Botrytised Sweet White, McLaren Vale, SA (half) £7.95
Scott Collett is a man mountain and this wine is, admittedly, the antithesis of his character. The thing is, his wife makes the greatest mulberry tart on the planet, so, bless him, he made something to go with it.
2001 Primo Estate, La Magia Botrytis Riesling, Adelaide Plains, SA (half) £9.99
This is the sweetie we all want, but never know how or where to find it. Sexy, sultry, boozy, ripe, tropical fruit, with layers of brûlée and candied peel – just perfect.
2003 d’Arenberg Noble Blend, McLaren Vale, SA (half) £12.99
Chester Osborn’s inspirational Riesling / Marsanne / Viognier blend has incredible density and monstrously honeyed fruit. A mouthful of this and you are invincible – just don’t try and fly!
2004 Yalumba Botrytised Viognier, Wrattonbully, SA (half) £12.99
I was very scared to taste this wine, as the downside is so steep, but it lifted my palate with angelic flavours and delivered a unique experience that is now the mark by which all others will be judged.
NV Campbells Classic Rutherglen Liqueur Muscat, Rutherglen, Vic (50cl) £13.99
If we had more serious Liqueur Muscats in the UK, there would undoubtedly be more in the 100. But we don’t, so I have chosen the best value and most impactful around. This is a spectacular wine, which will reward every one of your senses with a cornucopia of brazen flavours.