100 BEST AUSTRALIAN WINES – 2006
NV Brown Brothers Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier, Vic £9.99
Truly serious sparkling wine under a tenner is a very rare beast indeed. BB sources pristine fruit for this remarkably elegant wine.
2004 Taltarni Brut Taché, Tas / Vic £10.99
This is a joyous, Kir Royale-stained, rosé wine. Unashamedly tarty, but all the better for it, Taché is a basque and stockings in a glass.
2002 Green Point by Chandon, Australia £12.99
ZD and this pure vintage wine made the long list, but this year vintage GP has the edge and joins the super-century club. Magnificent poise and considerable power typify this cuvée – it is world class.
2001 Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvée, Tas £14.99
The NV is a perennial fave, but the 2001 Vintage is perhaps the finest wine ever made at this estate. Watch out for an otherworldly NV rosé, too, coming soon.
2003 Croser, Piccadilly, Adelaide Hills, SA £16.50
Nervy, linear, tight and brooding, this is S&M fizz for those of you who like a little bit of pain before dinner. Totally cleansing and superbly balanced.
NV Primo Joseph Sparkling Red, SEA £27.00
Who, what, where, when, how? With a fifteen-year-old Shiraz base wine, some Amarone-d Cabernet and a seventies liqueured top up, this is the Don. Don’t ask questions. This wine has all the answers.
2002 Bay of Fires Vintage Pinot Noir / Chardonnay / Pinot Meunier, Tas £28.00
This Pinot dominant wine is utterly spellbinding. Winemaker Ed Carr has let himself go here – decadent and enthralling!
fresh & crisp
2005 Peter Lehmann Chenin Blanc, Barossa Valley, SA £5.99
This inexpensive beauty sprinted into the final hundred and refused to budge. The more we tasted it the more it cemented its position. Yee hah.
2005 Willow Bridge Dragonfly Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Geographe, WA £6.95
This cheeky, cool-climate SBS is the sort of wine to take the spotlight off Marlborough. Cunning, balanced and layered – listen in restaurateurs!
2005 Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise, McLaren Vale, SA £7.99
Thank goodness Wirra has now found its footing in the UK. This Sauv/Sem/Viog cocktail is destined to be hosed down 24/7 from now on. Blending skill at its best.
2005 Philip Shaw No.19 Sauvignon Blanc, Koomooloo Vineyard, Orange, NSW £11.99
He’s back! The incorrigible Mr Shaw had three wines in the long list and this Sauv stormed across the finish line ahead of a Chard and Shiraz. Electrocute your taste buds with No.19.
2005 The Lane Gathering Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, SA £12.99
This wine has multiple personalities. It can be a giggly schoolgirl of an aperitif or a strict mistress marshalling a main course. Either way I love it – I simply can’t get enough.
2005 Keith Tulloch Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW £13.95
Keith is an inspirational technician. He crafts wine from the soil to the bottle and every stage is microscopically observed. This Semillon is spectacular.
2004 Cullen Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River, WA £14.75
This is Willow Bridge with a doctorate. It ages like top white Graves and yet displays masses of class in its youth, too. Just make sure you’re up to it.
2003 Gembrook Hill Sauvignon Blanc, Yarra Valley, Vic £16.95
It has finally arrived in the UK! I have been waiting a decade to write up GH Sauv – this is a definitive Aussie Sauvignon – staggeringly adroit and menacingly pure as it marauds your palate with citrus and herb flavours.
1999 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW £20.00
Vat 1 is a legendary wine and this 1999 is no exception. Lavish lemon meringue pie and wild honey cavort on the palate and the density of fruit is astounding.
2005 McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW £TBC???????
In my opinion this is the finest single vineyard Sem in the world. ’05 also happens to be a brilliant vintage – force the UK agents to ship it – we NEED this wine.
succulent & aromatic
2005 Peter Lehmann Riesling, Barossa Valley, SA £5.99
Another surprise from the masters of Barossa Rouge, this is a small price to pay for a frighteningly serious wine. Do not overlook this Riesling.
2005 Yalumba Y Series Viognier, Eden Valley, SA £6.99
Louisa Rose can do no wrong. This peach fuzz Viognier is in a league of its own. The Eden Valley wine, for three quid more, is a dreamboat, too.
2005 Yering Station MVR, Yarra Valley, Vic £6.99
MVR has seemingly been given a retune and the result is a lighter, racier, more manoeuvrable wine but with more power and class. Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier has never been so fit.
2005 St Hallett Riesling, Eden Valley, SA £8.99
You’d think these guys would concentrate on Shiraz, but they can’t stop making epic Riesling, too. Pure, light sabre, limejuice – you may need two hands to wield this bottle.
2005 Battle of Bosworth Chardonnay / Viognier, McLaren Vale, SA £8.99
Bos shows us a glimpse of his feminine side and it’s very alluring indeed. This style of blend often lacks poise and equilibrium – BOB lacks nothing.
2005 Pikes Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £9.95
This is one of the star Rieslings of the terrific 2005 vintage. Neil Pike is a trouper and this wine cascades over the palate like an ice cold mountain stream.
2005 Tim Adams Pinot Gris, Clare Valley, SA £9.99
From nought to my 100 in just three vintages! TAPG is a stunning wine with perfect balance between fleshy pear, apple juiciness and crisp acidity.
2005 Knappstein Ackland Vineyard Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £9.99
Coming from 35-year-old vines in Watervale, this is Paul Smith’s finest Riesling to date. Teeth-bleachingly pure and bum-clenchingly dry, this is a wicked wine.
2005 O’Leary Walker Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £9.99
David O and Nick W have a very successful vinous partnership and we should see more of their wines over here soon. In the meantime lose yourself in this steely, lemon- and lime-flecked Riesling.
2005 Off the Leash No Oak White, ‘Finn’, The Lane Wine Co., Adelaide Hills, SA £9.99
This unoaked Chardonnay is spiked with Semillon, Pinot Gris and Viognier. Finn is Australia’s most forward-thinking white wine and it is stupendous. No need for a crystal ball – this is the future.
2004 Mount Langi Ghiran Pinot Gris, Grampians, Vic £12.99
Sleek, sultry PG, with curvy hips and a devastating décolletage, this is wondrous wine with enough acidity in its killer heels to keep it all in check.
2005 Grosset Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £13.95
Jeff fashions serious Rieslings for his knowing audience. The beautiful 2005 vintage has allowed the Watervale cuvée to show very well in its youth. Buy it – this is GREAT wine.
2005 Leasingham Classic Clare Riesling, Clare Valley, SA £14.99
The perfect 20/20 ’02 made last year’s list and the 20/20 ’05 claims its place this year. There is nothing to say – just gaze in awe at this work of art – then drink it!
2005 mesh Riesling, Eden Valley, SA £14.99
’05 mesh is back to top form. A stern, no nonsense nose is followed swiftly by a genial palate and desperately long finish. It’s drinking now or in a decade.
rich & structured
2005 Chapel Hill Reserve Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, SA £9.99
Wow, what a change of tack for this wine! Gone is the oaky chubster. Welcome the lithe hotty. Chapel Hill must have a catwalk in the winery.
2004 De Bortoli Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic £12.99
This is a smorgasbord Chardonnay, with a little of everything you could possibly want in the glass. The trick is that no matter how much this wine is loaded with fruit, it is still impeccably balanced.
2004 Cape Mentelle Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA £13.99
Mentelle Chardonnay is often forgotten about in favour of the Cabernet, but that would be a grave error, because the fruit quality and skill behind this wine is breathtaking.
2003 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, SEA £15.99
Australia‘s most underrated Chardonnay? I think so. I suppose the label is no ‘Art Series’ (see below), but the contents are phenomenal. Decant it if you have to and bathe in its glory.
2004 Grosset Chardonnay, Piccadilly, Adelaide Hills, SA £19.95
With perfect balance between the swishy, white flower and honey fruit and the suave oak this is one of Grosset’s sexiest ever Chardonnays. Rare but essential.
2004 Penfolds Reserve Bin 04a Chardonnay, SA £19.99
Big boned and beautiful, this is a sassy Chardonnay, with unashamed succulent oak and brazen, moreish peach and mandarin blossom fruit.
2004 Pierro Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA £24.25
You will have to be patient for this wine to unravel, but when it does it may just pip the other Margaret River wines at the post. Uncommunicative at present, but ever so intellectual.
2002 Evans & Tate Redbrook Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA £24.99
Drinking perfectly and showing a full array of talent, this is a song and dance spectacular in a glass and all that is needed is a roast chicken to get it going.
2003 Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay, Australia £29.99
Yattarna continues its exponential path in pursuit of perfection. We are nearing that goal and in the 2003 there is a mineral core which grabs the palate and never lets go.
2003 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA £40.00
Art Series is still the most reliable benchmark Chardonnay in Australia. Despite its class and breeding it is still a wonderfully gracious host.
2005 Tempus Two Copper Label Chardonnay, ? £?
This superb alchemy from the Tempus gang is brimming with hilarious honey nuances and fierce oak. Brave, retro, chewy and impactful, this is a wine that makes a statement, loudly.
2004 Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Chardonnay, Beechworth, Vic £?
I was knocked flat when I tasted this extraordinary wine. Indigo is as good as anything I have tasted in Australia and superior to any wine outside of the best of the Côte d’Or.
2003 Stonier KBS Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Vic £?
This wine is the philharmonic playing the Hebridean Overture at full tilt. White knuckle crests and swooping troughs – hold on tight.
2005 Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Rosé, SEA £5.99
JC has the most complete entry level portfolio of wines. But something was missing – ah, the best value rosé of the year – here it is.
2006 Linda Domas Shot Bull Shiraz Rosé, Southern Fleurieu, SA £9.50
The ‘best’ rosé in Australia? It is certainly up there with Turkey Flat, Rose of Virginia and these wines. I urge you to find a bottle and let me know your thoughts.
2005 Eastern Peake Pinot Noir Rosé, Ballarat, Vic £10.99
Sweetness and light from one of the prettiest wines of the year, EP rosé has a Labrador lick of raspberry juice which sends shivers down my spine. It should have been bottled in magnums, as it disappears too fast.
2005 Spinifex Rosé, Barossa Valley, SA £11.95
A Tavel-bashing 80% Grenache / 20% Cinsault wine, which kisses you on both cheeks before knifing you in the bread basket. A malevolent assassin.
2004 Nepenthe Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, SA £8.99
The sultry, dark, chocolate and plum fruit is content in this juicy, sweet and sour Pinot. Give it some air and let it relax and you’ll meet a temptress who won’t take no for an answer.
2004 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic £13.29
Beautiful wild cherry fruit on the nose and a velvety, plum and sweet liquorice palate make this a captivating brew. Encore.
2003 Kooyong Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic £16.95
The rich, hedonistic, gallant red fruit strides forth and takes complete command of your olfactory system. It will give your senses back when it has finished.
2004 Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic £16.99
There is considerable swagger here, on account of the flash oak barrels and riotous damson and black cherry fruit.
2004 De Bortoli Reserve Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic £18.00
With a cool, calm exterior, it is easy to assume that all is well. But one sip will show that controlled chaos is ensuing under the surface of this maelstrom of a wine.
2004 Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic £29.99
Yering’s estate Pinot could easily have made the list, but I thought that I ought to pitch the big boy in because this section is so strong. It’s like Gladiator – who’s your money on?
cabernet & merlot
2004 McWilliams Hanwood Cabernet Sauvignon, SEA £6.49
It does what it says on the tin, except that it does it incredibly well for such a competitively priced wine. Bravo.
2003 Katnook Founders Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA £8.99
Even better than last year’s 2002, Founders is a revelation. Affordable Coonawarra Cab, with a sense of place and a guarantee to satisfy – how often does this happen?.
2004 Cumulus Climbing Merlot, Orange, NSW £8.99
Philip Shaw’s baby Merlot is a joy. Dark and dense, but with aromatic high notes and seamless red/black flavours, this is a very good wine.
2003 Moss Wood The Amy’s Blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, WA £11.55
Sealed with a screwcap and more forward than the normal estate wines, Amy’s is the equivalent of Les Forts de Latour from a juicy, early-drinking vintage!
2004 Majella Merlot, Coonawarra, SA £13.99
I love Majella Cabernet and the 2003 was in the running, again, but I went for the Merlot, as they are few and far between at this quality. Stuffed with fruit, this is a sexy, brooding wine.
2003 Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA £14.99
Sealed with a screwcap, Paul Gordon has not allowed a cork to interfere with his darkest work in years. There is a sprig of mint, a bar of Green and Blacks and a bolt of velvet in every glass – unbridled joy.
2002 Wirra Wirra Dead Ringer Cabernet, McLaren Vale / Coonawarra, SA £24.50
Hallelujah, this may be a dead ringer, but its sonorous tone envelops the planet. This is a monumental wine – perfect in every way.
2001 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, WA £24.99
Back to Premier League form in 2001, Cape Mentelle shows St-Julien a thing or two about fruit quality and balanced oak. Harmonious.
2004 Mitolo Serpico Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, SA £27.95
Lock up your daughters, here comes a fleet of Vikings, primed to slaughter anything in their way. Serpico is the definitive destroyer – it makes you forget every other wine you’ve ever tasted.
2002 Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, WA £34.95
2002 is one of the purest and tightest Cullen Cabs in years. One for the cellar, this wine will age incrementally for two decades. Heroic.
weird and wonderful
2005 St Hallett Gamekeepers Reserve, Barossa Valley, SA £5.99
On paper this 56% Shiraz / 36% Grenache / 5% Touriga / 3% Mourvèdre could be a discordant mess, but it fact it is pure gold. I would go so far as to say it is Australia’s finest, inexpensive, youthful red blend.
2004 Lucky Country Shiraz / Cabernet, Langhorne Creek, SA £7.99
Lucky Country indeed! This cheeky blend is a fireball of flavour and it benefits from being made at the smart Two Hands facility.
2004 Red Bucket Cabernet / Shiraz, Adelaide Hills, SA £7.99
Surprisingly no pun intended here, but another great Aussie blend to get your teeth into. Crunchy plums and cinnamon spices blend seamlessly with blackberry crumble notes – a cheery number.
2004 Fox Gordon By George Cabernet / Tempranillo, Barossa Valley, SA £9.49
Eight Uncles has taken a well deserved year off from the 100 and By George is here to keep you entertained. The value afforded here is overwhelming.
2003 McLean’s Farm Reserve, Barossa Valley, SA £9.99
Bob McLean tackles the Shiraz / Cabernet challenge with aplomb. He doesn’t know any other way mind you. Great impact and bravado in the glass.
2004 Penley Estate Condor Shiraz / Cabernet, Coonawarra, SA £10.99
It is impossible to see the join between these two varieties in this wine, such is the masterful melding that has gone into its construction. Mellifluous, erudite and rewarding.
2004 Yalumba Hand Picked TGV, Barossa Valley, SA £14.99
A screwcap-sealed Tempranillo, Grenache, Viognier blend was not meant to make this list – how could it? Not unless it blew me away with its flair, theatrics and gusto. It did.
2004 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet / Shiraz, SA £15.99
I have followed this wine for years and it never disappoints. Almost every bottle of 389 is drunk too young. This 2004 is a cracker, but don’t touch it for five years -although I know you won’t wait that long.
shiraz, grenache & mourvèdre
2005 Yering Frog Shiraz/Viognier, Yarra Valley, Vic £6.99
Everyone seems to be making SVs these days. And everyone should have a look at this wine – this is how its done (and it’s the cheapest!).
2005 Linda Domas Swensen Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA £6.99
Linda’s baby Shiraz is a stunner. For seven pounds you can drink first class wine from one of the greatest wine regions in the world – not bad, hey?
2004 St Hallett Faith Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £7.99
Matt Gant has made his best ever Faith Shiraz in 2004. This snake-hipped, clean-shaven musketeer has not only re-discovered his Faith, but he’s also decided to share it with us. We are not worthy.
2004 Hardy’s Oomoo Shiraz, SEA £7.99
If Rob Mann was to be remembered for a single red wine during his tenure at Tintara, I expect he’d like it to be an Eileen Shiraz or a Tintara Grenache. I think that ’04 Oomoo Shiraz is his legacy – it’s phenomenal.
2004 Glaetzer Wallace, Shiraz / Grenache, Barossa Valley, SA £9.95
Ben and Colin Glaetzer have made my favourite ever Wallace in 2004. The sweet American oak seasons the stunning blackberry and cherry fruit and the result is a refined, yet impressive wine.
2004 Kalleske Clarry’s Red, Barossa Valley, SA £9.95
Don’t delay because this 80% Grenache / 20% Shiraz is in tiny supply. This is a wine that shows that large can be drop dead gorgeous. Black, brooding, dense and a little scary, this is however a fascinating gentle giant.
2004 Tim Adams Fergus, Clare Valley, SA £9.99
I adore Fergus – for me it is one of Australia’s most underrated wines. Grenache-dominant and boasting the full array of red and black fruit flavours, this is a thrilling wine.
2005 Linda Domas Top Hat Grenache, McLaren Vale, SA £9.99
This is the wine I have been waiting for. Herbal, tricky, pipe smoke on the nose, squashed blueberries and mulberries on the palate and a zany, tangy finish make this an utterly hypnotic red wine.
2004 Brokenwood Shiraz, Hunter Valley, NSW £10.99
This is a gorgeous, medium-weight, savoury, but bramble jam imbued red wine. I love bright, berry-driven Hunter Shiraz as they are the perfect foil to the bigger wines from South Australia.
2004 Penley Estate Hyland Shiraz, Coonawarra, SA £10.99
Kym Tolley’s Hyland is a deep purple, dark cherry and chocolate stuffed wine, with staggering length and a siren song nose. There is an awful lot of wine here for the money.
2004 Heritage Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £11.99
Steve Hoff may have even eclipsed his ’02 with this sensational 2004 Shiraz. It has every element of classic Barossa Shiraz, but the volume is turned down a notch, so the effect is profound, and contemplative.
2004 Eldredge Blue Chip Shiraz, Clare Valley, SA £11.99
Definitive Clare Shiraz is a fascinating class of wine and Blue Chip is one of the best. The fruit is direct and remorseless, but not in any way heavy or ponderous. Waves of blue and black fruit crash on your palate and leave you satiated.
2004 d’Arenberg Laughing Magpie, McLaren Vale, SA £11.99
These guys cracked the Shiraz / Viognier game years ago and this glossy, polished wine is a stormer, despite its youth.
2004 Turkey Flat Grenache, Barossa Valley, SA £12.99
Old Vine Grenache is one of Australia’s strong suits, but it usually plays second fiddle to Shiraz. Not this time, because this one’s a Stratocaster!
2003 Best’s Great Western Bin No.1 Shiraz, Great Western, Vic £12.99
From the ‘young’ vines at Salvation Hill, this is an incredible wine for thirteen pounds. Viv Thomson continues to amaze us in the UK with his legendary wines.
2003 Skillogalee Shiraz, Clare Valley, SA £15.99
Diana and Dave Palmer have finally made the 100 with this superbly balanced wine. With PYO punnet fruit and well-judged pepper and oak seasoning this is a seamless, crème de mure soaked wine that positively beams in the glass.
2004 Teusner Avatar, Barossa Valley, SA £16.95
Kym’s Avatar is a G/M/S blend that shoehorns a tonne of spice and earth into the bottle alongside some of the brightest, most vibrant fruit in the Valley. A certain star in the making.
2004 SC Pannell Shiraz/Grenache, McLaren Vale, SA £19.95
Steve Pannell has finally rowed a boatful of his wine over to the UK and we can at last have a go at his beautiful creations. This magical blend is everything we hoped it would be – worth waiting for!
2004 Shelmerdine Single Vineyard Merindoc Shiraz, Heathcote, Vic £19.99
With shockingly pure fruit and an aura about this wine that is frankly unnerving, Merindoc is a very interesting wine indeed. The flavour builds like a whirlwind on the palate and you are left feeling bizarrely calm.
2004 Battle of Bosworth White Boar Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA £19.99
The estate BoB Shiraz is a stunner in 2004, but White Boar, an Amarone style, is Herculean. You will need a helmet and gloves to attempt this wine, and a chaise langue nearby after a glass.
2004 Ulithorne Frux Frugis Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA £24.99
This estate shows no signs of dropping the baton. Far from it, they are sprinting away from the competition with some of the most fragrant and memorable fruit flavours I have ever seen.
2004 Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier, Canberra District £29.95
Tim Kirk makes immensely serious wines. This 2004 is a model wine for the world marvel at. The depth and texture of fruit are heavenly.
2002 Yalumba Octavius Old Vine Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA £39.99
I believe that this 2002 Octavius has the edge on last year’s 2001, and that is saying something. This is a monumental creation.
2003 McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz, Hunter Valley, NSW £TBC???????
With brilliant depth, smoky oak and sweet spices, this is a wonderful wine that valiantly carries the name of one of Australia’s greatest ever wine pioneers.
2005 Bimbadgen Myall Road Botrytised Semillon, Griffith, NSW (half) £6.99
This is a pretty little thing with oodles of fruit salad flavours and lashings of fresh honey. The clean acidity perks up the palate perfectly on the finish.
2004 Keith Tulloch Botrytised Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW (half) £12.95
A complete contrast to the Bimbadgen, this is a deep, intense, exotic wine, with extraordinary fruit concentration and immense class.
2005 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling, Clare Valley, SA (half) £14.49
Australia’s most famous sweet Riesling is a joy, with layer upon layer of lemon balm, lime zest and greengage fruit. Drink now or keep for a decade!
NV De Bortoli Show Reserve Muscat, SEA £9.99
Maybe one year we will have more fortified wines in the UK to choose from, but until then, you can’t find a better wine to exchange for a tenner than this one. Liquidised, boozy Christmas cake in a glass.