100 BEST AUSTRALIAN WINES – 2007
Brand Champions = BC
Regional Heroes = RH
Landmark Australia = LA
Generation Next = GN
2002 Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvée, Tas RH £10
Natalie Fyrar doesn’t miss a beat this year. Her talents are clear to see in this dramatic, uplifting wine. ’02 Jansz is exciting and it leaves you wanting more. This is a minimum requirement for the 100 Best, but so many wines are lacking.
2004 Green Point by Chandon, Vintage, Australia BC £13 tbc
If you favour a slightly curvier form, then this lush, lusty, smooth, exotic elixir from Chandon is a winner – sink your teeth into its chassis and grin.
2004 Croser Piccadilly, Adelaide Hills, SA LA £15
Is this the best Croser ever? I think it is certainly in the running. Less brutal than last year’s 2003, the smart, clean, balanced fruit caresses your palate rather than manhandling your senses. It is a very elegant creature.
2000 Arras, Bay of Fires, Tasmania LA £30
This wine is still Australia’s top sparkling drop – sheer brilliance, richness and true yeasty, autolytic notes make it a nobler sort than the young knave in this section. Long live the King.
NV Green Point by Chandon Extra Riche, Australia GN £tbc
The most innovative sparking wine producer in the Southern Hemisphere is pushing the envelope again. This louche, fruity number makes ‘Carry On’ films look like documentaries – wine to fondle to! Bring it over to the UK Moet Hennessey.
2003 E&E Sparkling Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA LA £55
2003 Black Pepper Shiraz (the non-sparkling version) is a great wine – so it is no surprise that Stuey Bourne’s moreish, tasty, lively, fizzer is so delicious, too. No tannin, no heat, no edge, just desperately juicy, top class, black fruit and spice.
CRISP & FRESH WHITES
2006 Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc, South Australia BC £6
We all know that ignorant Sydney-siders drink oceans of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but with forward Hunter Semillon on tap, AH Sauv re-finding its feet and this wine ‘BTG’ in every bar, it is a real mystery to me why they think they are remotely on the same page as the rest of the country. This is Australia’s best value SB.
2006 Peter Lehmann Chenin Blanc, Barossa Valley, SA BC £6
This is a monumentally serious wine at its price point. Those Cape Crusaders can’t begin to compete with their versions of this grape. Lime juice purity, years of experience and unmistakable / magnetic confidence, this is a bloody good wine. No snobs allowed.
2006 Chapel Hill Unwooded Chardonnay, SEA BC £7
Fraaagos (long ‘ah’ not a jaunty ‘ay’ – my mistake for a decade) makes teeth-lickingly pristine Chardonnay. His unrobed version is lifted, tart and tight – lasciviousness is a must.
2006 De Bortoli Windy Peak Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic BC £7
This is Australia’s finest ‘Auxerre-assassin’. It is ever so slightly oaked but not enough to move it to another section. Windy is a statement of intent. It bellows ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ from its diminutive frame. I dare you…
2006 Nepenthe Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, SA RH £8
Just when I thought that Nepenthe had slipped off its perch this 2006 SB swooped down from the Hills and firmly reminded me not to wander too far from this operation.
2006 Tyrrell’s Lost Block Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW BC £8
With sumptuous fruit on the finish (a luscious lick of nearly OTT RS), this is a very well appointed Madame, boasting gleamingly juicy green apple fruit – Nell Gwynne in all but cup size.
2006 Keith Tulloch Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW RH £10
Keith is fast becoming one of the most intricate engineers in the business. He uses intimate knowledge of every one of his vines to team talk this Semillon into lime and lanolin perfection. Give SB a wide berth if this beauty saunters by.
2006 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, SA RH £10
Half genial, fruit driven charmer and half demented axe-wielding nutter – this wine can be drunk with the spiciest Zuma-blessed creations, or sipped with the Queen and an innocent cucumber sandwich. How are you feeling today? This wine has the answers.
2006 Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon, Margaret River, WA RH £11tbc
It is nice to see a little anger and frustration in Sauvignon Blanc, normally such an inanimate chap. This wine’s varieties muscle for attention on the nose and palate and it makes for fantastic viewing. This cunning blend crackles with tension – just how we like it.
2006 Philip Shaw No. 19 Sauvignon Blanc, Orange, NSW GN £12
I have heard the word ‘genius’ used about Philip a few times this year – I say it myself and believe it, too. This wine kidnaps your senses and gives them back when you’re least expecting it. May I have mine back now please?
2006 Willow Bridge Reserve Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon, Geographe, WA RH £tbc
Complex and grassy with a very intense nose and extremely well-assembled palate Willow’s Reserve is like an intricate model airplane with deft lines and fantastic maneuverability.
2006 McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW LA £tbc
The brutal, assault on your senses that gave the epic ’05 a listing last year, is long forgotten now that this genial, tempered and ever so welcoming 2006 has come into our lives. It is hard to think of a more awesome and yet easy to comprehend Landmark Australian wine.
2006 PHI Sauvignon Blanc, Yarra Valley, Vic GN £23
Lusatia Park is poised to become one of Victoria’s horticultural gems. The fruit from Stephen Shelmerdine’s idyllic estate is magically transformed into kneecap-smashingly-crisp wine by Steve Webber. How can perfection be bettered? Wait for next year.
SUCCULENT & AROMATIC WHITES
2005 McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Riesling, SEA BC £6
This is a classic, Teuton-shaped wine with crunchy acidity and a price point which is frankly laughable – any cheaper and they’d be paying you. Baptize Riesling unbelievers in this faith-altering wine.
2005 Hardy’s Nottage Hill Riesling, South Australia BC £7
With green melon and papaya notes punctuating the more familiar musky scents, this is a fairly exotic entry level Riesling and one that should coax newcomers to this stellar variety. Once again, value for money from this cheapie Riesling is staggering.
2006 Knappstein Hand Picked Riesling, Clare Valley, SA RH £7
Beautiful, tender, crisp, hand-picked, ice cold pear fruit is the theme here and it is a spell-binding result for such a well-priced yet unmistakably Clare-sourced wine. The single vineyard sibling, Ackland, augments this theme in all respects – it’s a work of art.
2006 Mount Langi Ghiran Billi Billi Creek Pinot Grigio, Grampians Vic RH £7
Billi Billi shows that Australia can, at every level, make this variety a hit, as long as the winemaker decides exactly what style he is making. Dan has nailed it – joyous party wine with a cheeky wink and a devilish air. MLGPG is a more grown up version, for grown ups, of course.
2006 Tim Adams Riesling, Clare Valley, SA RH £8
So simple, pretty, charming and innocent (on the surface perhaps), this is the older, wiser and more scheming sister to the slutty, but thoroughly exciting TA Pinot Gris – is she really a good girl? You can decide.
2006 O’Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling, Clare Valley, SA RH £9
Crawl into a quiet crevice somewhere and silently unscrew a bottle of this wine. This is marvelous stuff. The tension between the palate and the glass is cranked up to a max – near breaking point in fact. Riesling manages this feat like no other white grape and this team knows full well how to exploit its charms.
2006 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, SA RH £10
Pete Dredge (an unlikely hero if ever there was one) is the driving force behind this 2006 Hanlin Hill and like a young Luke Skywalker he has found his talents baffling and exulting in equal measure. This is a kinder side of Petaluma Riesling and it is more delicious and rewarding than ever at this stage of its life.
2006 Pikes Riesling, Clare Valley, SA RH £10
Bioluminescent in colour and packing in more life changing properties than Glastonbury Festival, Neil Pike cannot seem to make anything other than spectacular wine. FYI – we prefer this to Merle!
2006 Ferngrove Cossack Riesling, Frankland, WA RH £12
The fragrant, pink powder puff notes speckle the lemon blossom nose and yet delve below the innocent veneer and a hard, brittle backbone of acidity is an ice pick in your side. Go one stage further and it reveals the generous, tender underbelly of floral fruit. Cossack is not what it says on the tin – it is Nikita, locked and loaded.
2006 The Lane Pinot Grigio, Adelaide Hills, SA GN £13
Nothing John Edwards does is ever straightforward (his memoirs will need a wheelbarrow attached to cart them around) and this wine is no exception. It is one of the most precise and all-encompassing PG’s on the market. It is, however, not a Grigio! This is a Gris to out-Gris the competition – layered honey, nutmeg, quince and lemon balm lounge languidly in the glass awaiting your silence. They then hug your taste buds and never let go.
2002 Peter Lehmann Reserve Riesling, Barossa Valley, SA RH £13
The current release 2006 Eden Valley Riesling is a dream, but this aged offering is truly world class. This is one of the most impressive and affordable white wines on the planet. The nose, texture and finish are sensational.
2006 Grosset Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley, SA LA £14
Watervale is impossibly calm, classy, even regal in 2006, so you should drink this superb wine while reclining in splendour. However its bombastic brother, Polish Hill, should be drunk while marching enthusiastically around a parade ground to a fine brass band.
2005 Jacobs Creek Steingarten Riesling, Eden Valley, SA LA £15
Waves of dramatic, white-knuckle fruit crash onto the palate and it is hard to concentrate during the cacophonous action, but bit by bit the message becomes clear – this is the finest Steingarten of all. All you need is patience and an open mind.
2005 Petaluma Viognier, Adelaide Hills, SA GN £20
There is a rival to the Yalumba Viognier crown (it took a while!) and it is those hairy surfer dudes and dudettes at the Academy otherwise known as Petaluma. Ox must be totally chuffed that this team could conceivably field five wines in this century of splendour! This Viagra is splendid, with layered, crunchy-peach and sweet spice notes and it ties down the apparent lushness with guy-ropes of minerality.
RICH & STRUCTURED WHITES
2005 Penfolds Thomas Hyland Chardonnay, South Australia BC £8tbc
This is a very significant wine for Australia. It wears a big brand name, delivers everything and more and can, if you are so cruel, fox even the most astute when served blind. Why? It is made with no compromise at all and the price point is set in stone by marketing dudes (for some reason at a fiver less than it should be!) – win, win!
2005 Stonier Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Vic RH £13
This ‘estate wine’ from Stonier is their best white work to date. With sensitive oak highlighting the maritime-spiked lime and herb fruit, this is a zesty, nervy wine with gum-prickling tanginess and a broad sweep of nougat and firm mandarin fruit.
2005 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, Australia BC £17
Eileen will always have a slight image issue (apologies to all Eileens out there) but once you’ve got over the embarrassment of buying a wine that is seemingly targeted at pensioners you’ll be rewarded by the finest example of this wine ever. It is also phenomenal value for money.
2005 The Lane Beginning Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, SA RH £17
This wine is just about waking from its slumber. You can’t rush perfection, don’t even try. Just let Beginning rise gracefully and then go about its mesmeric job of capturing everyone’s senses in the room. The taut minerality underpinning this wine is breathtaking. This new era in Aussie Chardonnay is gripping viewing.
2005 Yering Station Reserve Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic RH £20
Tom Carson is not a ‘follower’ even if everyone is charging off in the opposite direction. This is a proud, rich, smooth, stone fruit and slippery fondant-covered Chardonnay and it’s positively decadent in its make up. Vanilla essence, unctuous nutty creams, oleaginous citrus fruit emulsions and all manner of heady musks crowd the nose and palate – this is heroic white wine.
2005 Grosset Piccadilly Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, SA RH £20
With pretty brave levels of classy French oak, this is as wild a wine as Jeff dares to make one suspects. The result is a Premier Cru rivaling wine that is not afraid of intensity, structure and poise. This is a craftsman’s wine that nearly didn’t work. Like all great pieces of art, it is these that really catch the eye and impress.
2004 Dalwhinnie Chardonnay, Moonambel, Pyrenees, Vic RH £20
Mesmerizing minerality is the theme here in this edgy, muscular, brittle mountain-side Chardonnay. Stone and soil appear in every pheromonal moment that this wine is near your being. This is vital wine made with unrivalled passion.
2004 Cullen Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA LA £25
Vanya is in tune with her vineyards and her wines and this Chardonnay shows this rare and superb partnership in all its glory. Chardonnay is so easy to make well, but incredibly difficult to make brilliantly. Cullen improves and augments its holistic recipe every year and the results are amazing.
2005 Pierro Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA RH £25
This wine is on a mission. It is a Chardonnay vector – its magnitude of flavour and unwavering, direct assault on your palate are almost shocking. It also parades its region on its sleeve. Pierro Chard is a wine for true fans of the variety, the region and roast chicken.
2004 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA LA £40tbc
Yet again this legendary estate comes up with the goods. This is a near perfect Leeuwin with staggering balance and more punchy acidity than usual – this makes the finish more electric and will certainly prolong its lifetime beautifully.
2006 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir Rosé, Yarra Valley, Vic GN £8
Pinot rosé is often such a let down – a half-hearted, bored, drag artist of a wine. But this wine isn’t because it screams Scissor Sister hits from the top of its voice and challenges you to spot the flaws in its make up – clue…there aren’t any.
2006 Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Rosé, McLaren Vale, SA GN £9tbc
Mrs Wigley is a cheery soul, sporting rosy cheeks and a hop, bounce and wobble in her jaunty little step! This wine is the same – ripe cherry fruit cascades on call, delightful squashy berries tumble free and cleanly scrubbed schoolchildren sing in perfect harmony when you pour this wine. In short, the world is a better place thanks to Mrs Wigley.
2006 S.C. Pannell Grenache Rosé, McLaren Vale, SA RH £9
Steve Pannell probably doesn’t really want a rosé in the 100 Best ‘cos he makes such smart reds (read on). But this is just too much of a temptation for me and besides very few people understand Grenache the way he does. The result is a strawberry (fruit and hull) concoction of unnerving beauty and purity – it will be drunk by men, too!
2006 Turkey Flat Rosé, Barossa Valley, SA RH £10
Turkey is still the leader in the top class rosé stakes on account of the amount of savoury elements that are packed into this wine alongside the unutterably pretty red fruit. Granted this is another ‘light red’ rather than rosé wine but, if you cold only choose one wine, it is the only thing I would drink with the finest Indian cuisine imaginable.
2006 Rose of Virginia, Charles Melton, Barossa Valley, SA RH £13
With succulent bruised plum fruit and a mass of soy sauce sweet and sour moments, Charlie has bolted another turbo unit to the back of his beloved rosé (sorry, deep, rich, ‘red’ coloured wine) and it is a joy to behold. Strap yourself in for a hilarious ride.
2006 De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic GN £7
Windy Pants Pinot is yet another tremendous wine from the epic De Bortoli team. How can entry level Pinot be this good (nowhere else can do it in the world – comments gratefully received)? Steve and his team work hard, play hard, and yet they have the intrinsic, almost carnal desire to make every wine, whether it’s a top release or an everyday bottle pass the highest standards possible before it can wear their label – an inspiration to us all.
2004 Kooyong Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic GN £18
Add to my chosen imperious estate wine the 2006 Massale and the three single vineyard 2004s and you have one of the most complete portfolios in Australia – remember that these are all Pinots, too, and the achievement is simply staggering. Well played Sandro.
2005 Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic RH £18
Curiously pale in colour (Geraldine points out that the oak might be responsible for this phenomenon), but fabulously intense and truffly on the nose, this is a splendid Pinot with oomph and gusto, that will mature beautifully and engender those ‘sous bois’ notes so adored by true Pinotphiles.
2005 Ashton Hills Reserve Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, SA LA £tbc
This is an exquisite wine (Trophy winner at the AH Show last year) and it is such a shame that successive UK agents have struggled to achieve any traction for the guru’s wines in the UK. Stephen George is the guru in question and his wines are to be treasured.
2005 Ten Minutes by Tractor Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic GN £23
This is a forceful, libidinous wine with an assertive manner and ever so slightly brazen dark fruit flavours. It is much easier to let it have its way with your senses rather than stand up to what is after all the inevitable thought that everything in life ought to be ten minutes by tractor from here.
2005 PHI Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic GN £23
Desperately alluring, this is a fledgling supermodel taking her first steps on the international catwalk and there is unimaginable fame around the corner. Young Pinot can often seem gawky and leggy, but nothing can hide this wine’s awesome, natural beauty. You will fall for her just like we did.
2005 Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic RH £27
Carrying a load of oak (Tom loves his woodwork and so do we), but polished to a gleaming finish, this is undeniably a highly designed wine and one that glides over the palate like a Maserati GranTurismo. Muscle and tone in perfect symmetry.
2005 Paringa Estate Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic RH £32
Paringa is deservedly piling up accolades of late and this stunning estate wine shows why. There are only a few people with the touch and talent that Lindsay McCall displays with Pinot (and for that matter Shiraz). This is bombastic winemaking with a calm and focused core of frighteningly fit fruit.
CABERNET & MERLOT
2005 McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, SEA BC £7
Hanwood Cab is one of the most reliable red wines on the shelves today and it is in superb distribution allowing everyone a chance to taste this company’s commitment to style, quality and Australia. McW does us all a flavour, by selflessly delivering stylish Aus Cab to the world.
2004 Majella Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA RH £14
This wine embodies the mystery, mastery and allure of Coonawarra Cabernet in one sniff and sip – I gave it wine a perfect score in my notes. Everything is here and you’ll not taste a set of fitter tannins in your life. 2003 Majella Malleea, the stellar Cab/Shiraz blend was in the running, too – Prof is in a truly purple patch!
2004 Katnook Estate Merlot, Coonawarra, SA RH £15
This is a laser-guided Merlot, with textbook redcurrant purity. There is also a wondrous creamy fruit note that evokes memories of home made summer pudding and whipped cream. Far too delicious for words, this is a wine that should only have been bottled in magnums.
2005 Max V Robertson of Clare, Clare Valley, SA GN £tbc
Made from all five (count ’em) Bordeaux varieties, this collaboration between Leigh Eldredge and Simon Gilbert possesses huge power and sensationally raucous tannins! You’ll need another glass of someone else’s juicy Cabernet to recover from this wine. A cult classic in the making? You decide while I wallow in it.
2005 Godolphin by Ben Glaetzer, Barossa Valley, SA GN £25
This is a wine worthy of Rodin himself it is so cultured and magnificent on the one hand, and yet so unnerving and thought-provoking on the other. 2005 Godolphin is the last bearing this name – next year you will no doubt find AnaPerenna – Roman Deity of new beginnings – taking this slot. In the meantime enjoy this desperately serious wine.
2004 Parker Terra Rossa First Growth, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA RH £30
Massively long and very dense, First Growth is a wine built around exceptionally ripe skins and fantastic, glossy fruit. This is a hedonistic wine with an array of flavours and aromas that require exhaustive commitment to find, trap and collate, but it is worth every minute spent gazing in wonder at First Growth.
2004 Tapanappa Cabernet /Shiraz, Whalebone Vineyard , Wrattonbully, SA RH £30
A more sumptuous wine than the grippy, edgy, energetic 2003, this 2004 is finely tuned, more relaxed and self-assured and, in truth, far more delicious! Tapanappa is fast-tracking at an impressive rate into the top echelons of the Aus wine scene and the 2005 TT Chardonnay was in danger of gate-crashing this party, too. Place your bets for next year’s inclusion, now.
2002 Jim Barry The Benbournie, Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley, SA RH £30-50tbc
Silky smooth, pumped up, dark and swarthy and very ‘Clare’, this is the wine that the Valley has been waiting for to lead this beleaguered grape and its fellow winemakers forwards. Peter Barry has shown you the score – now please step it up, we want your wines.
2003 Cullen Diane Madeline Cabernet / Merlot, Margaret River, WA LA £34
This is an utterly spellbinding, Pauillac-wounding wine that embodies the heart and soul of the world’s most renowned red grape variety. The balance here is exceptional, the complexity baffling and the finish makes it into next year.
2004 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River WA LA £40
With considerable weight and yet piercing clarity of message, this wine brings your taste buds to attention and then marshals its dark berry and chocolate flavours around with balletic precision. With a decade ahead of it Moss Wood Cabernet is in no hurry to show its full hand – but you can see it’s a winning one from the other side of the world.
WEIRD AND WONDERFUL
2006 St Hallett Gamekeepers Reserve, Barossa Valley, SA BC £6
Matt Gant’s final trick for St Hallett was to make his last Gamekeepers a skyrocket of a wine. I reckon it is to show them and the world that he could make anything from anything and still keep us smiling and thirsty in equal measure. This is a legendary blend that will need a lot more than cunning winemaking to maintain its current standard in years to come. My advice is to start with a preposterous sense of humour and a terrifying work ethic.
2005 Heartland Dolcetto / Lagrein, Langhorne Creek, SA GN £9
I didn’t reckon this wine would ever make the cut with the two seemingly ugly sisters as varieties, but the 2005 is a beauty with crisp herbal purity and terrific plump, succulent red and black fruit flavours. There are no rules now left to be broken.
2005 Pillar Box Red, Padthaway, SA GN £9
Downright delicious honesty in a glass, Pillar Box is a great advert for clever, inexpensive Aussie reds, but only for the brave, ‘cos there’s no clue on the label what you can expect inside the bottle! The team behind this wine are to be congratulated (all except the overpaid designer and copywriter, one assumes!).
2005 Fox Gordon By George Cabernet Sauvignon / Tempranillo, Barossa Valley, SA GN £10
We were first to spot the 2004 last year and by George she’s done it again only this time Tash Mooney has whipped up even more sensational mulberry and fresh herb notes in this model example of HispanoAusmogrification. At a tenner there are very few wines from Iberia that can compete with this effortlessly cool wine!
2005 Penley Estate Condor Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA RH £11
Aaaah….Condor. That ancient pipe tobacco advert (remember?) echoes my feelings about this sexy, sultry, smooth and charming (in a Cary Grant way) red wine. This is a seamlessly blended red that delivers the best of Australia in one glass – bright, juicy, glistening Cabernet and savoury, meaty, spice-loaded Shiraz.
2001 Jacobs Creek Johann Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon, SA LA £35
We are determined to give this wine its deserved kiss of life in the UK. Johann is a gladiator of a wine, combining all red wines disciplines in the one form – power, structure, depth, complexity and balance. Drink this and experience a tumultuous ride of muscular black fruit and heady spiced notes. The 2002 that follows is equally breathtaking, too.
SHIRAZ, GRENACHE, MOURVÈDRE
2005 Jacobs Creek Shiraz, SEA BC £6
JC Shiraz is a study in vino-tropism. This wine grows towards more and more people every day as we grow closer to it. I put this 2005 in a lengthy line up with none other than Grange at the head of the class. It looked fabulous, glossy, varietally exact and downright delicious. Here endeth the lesson.
2005 Oxford Landing GSM, SA BC £6
Rumbustious fruit mark this out as a knock about, not too serious glugger from the impeccable Yalumba stable. But underneath the sprightly façade this is a brilliant GSM with masses of classy, strawberry and raspberry-kissed Grenache, supporting its darker play pals. Slow down and concentrate, this is a fantastic wine at a terrific price.
2006 Rosemount Grenache / Shiraz, SEA BC £7
This is an absurdly simple wine, but it gets it so right that you can’t avoid the truth – it is a well-rehearsed recipe, delivered to perfection. The new bottles might still look a little odd, but you can’t drink a bottle so thank goodness its contents are this good.
2006 Yalumba Y Series Shiraz / Viognier, SEA BC £7
Once again, these guys perform miracles with their inexpensive wines. This is a wine that every aspiring winemaker should taste before cocking the SV thing up royally and taking five more years to get it right. What you get is fantastic value, densely glossy blackcurrant fruit, an addictive nose and a refreshing finish – can’t say better than that.
2005 Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA GN £8tbc
This cheeky little amphibian will make your palate fidget with excitement. Made by Mike Brown, it is a stunner, with loads of McL character and lashings of honest Shiraz fruit. It is great to see Gemtree making ‘sense of place wines’ at a mass appeal price – someone’s got to have the balls to do it.
2005 Jester Shiraz, Mitolo, McLaren Vale, SA GN £10
In my humble opinion this is Mitolo’s finest 2005 vintage release – strange that it’s the cheapest! Dramatic fruit and oak balance and a stunning, laconically appointed demeanor make it a must buy!
2005 Tim Adams The Fergus, Clare Valley, SA RH £10
Ferg is an old mate, but he seems to have been on the treadmill and perhaps had a bit of ‘work’ done, because he has never looked so handsome and swaggering. This is a very suave Grenache – something I bet you thought you’d never see from Bonecrusher. FYI – 2004 Aberfeldy Shiraz is another legend from Tim – buy it and hold it tight for a decade.
2005 De Bortoli Shiraz / Viognier, Yarra Valley, Vic LA £14
This is a deliriously exciting wine with so much goût de terroir it is frankly astounding. Layer coats and coats of Shiraz and Viognier varnish until you have a craft capable of wining the America’s Cup it is so streamlined and then you are in business. De Bortoli has mastered this blend already – the fine tuning that is happening year on year is advancing delight and excitement faster than any other winery around.
2005 Dutschke St Jakobi Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA RH £14
Wayne Dutschke is a very mild-mannered and modest gent. He seems not to realize just how spellbinding his panoply of red wines really is to us disciples, but he shows no signs of taking his foot off the warp drive pedal as St Jakobi shows. For a big wine this is spot on, impeccably balance and blacker than the ace of spades. Juggling fruit, tannin and oak like this is a true talent.
2001 Tahbilk Reserve Shiraz, Nagambie Lakes, Vic LA £15tbc
This wine is a real slice of history in the glass – it is like drinking red wine in black and white. I always feel slightly reverential when tasting Tahbilk’s wines, particularly the venerable, powerful, black-fruit-soaked Reserve. The 2001 is one of the finest I have ever seen – this is a very special wine indeed.
2005 Teusner, The Riebke Ebenezer Road Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA GN£16tbc
At last the full Teusner repertoire is available in the UK. I first discovered this in a bar in Brisvegas, which shows that not all wines are found using the traditional tasting bench route! Riebke is a glimpse of what this lad can do but at affordable prices. Having said this I rather feel that it is one of the best balanced wines he has made. Funny that.
2004 Jim Barry McCrae Wood Shiraz, Clare Valley, SA RH £20tbc
Deserving of far more fame, McCrae Wood is a slightly dated style of Shiraz, but it really suits the fruit and warmth of oak that the Barrys manage to coax into this wine. Delicious, plush and sweetly cinnamon-kissing, McCW seems to have a glowering presence in the glass, but it is a genteel giant on the palate.
2004 D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA LA £25
A baby still, but 2004 Dead Arm sums up the entire D’Arenberg operation in one sip – passionate, authentic, committed, and ever so slightly dangerous. You should buy this wine before our cousins over the pond grab it and drink it ten years too early.
2004 Mount Langi Ghiran ‘Blue Label’ Shiraz, Grampians, Vic LA £25
The family of 2004 Shiraz releases from Duran Ghiran are fascinating, but none come close to the staggeringly pure and noble Blue Label – this is the finest wine ever made in Mount Ararat!
2004 SC Pannell Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA RH £26
Tight, closed, rich and with great intensity this is the sort of wine you should drop into a dinner party between two recognised heroes and watch people scratch their heads in disbelief. Pannell has got it, whatever ‘it’ is and this wine has ‘it’ in spades. His 2005 Shiraz / Grenache is also the proud possessor of ‘it’, too! Crack on.
2003 Dalwhinnie Shiraz, Moonambel, Pyrenees, Vic LA £27
David Jones can’t help but make spicy, superb, mineral-encrusted wines with his dramatic vineyards and sensational microclimate. Dalwhinnie Shiraz is always a treat and his 2003 is no exception. A thoroughbred of a wine in every way imaginable.
2005 Clonakilla Shiraz / Viognier, Canberra District LA £31
The challenge every year for Tim Kirk is to keep his adoring fans happy and satiated – 2005 CSV is doing much more than that and sending us into raptures. This is one tasting sample that got completely demolished with every aroma adored and every drop savoured. In a class of its own – monumental.
2001 Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA LA £33
This vineyard must have originally been planted by a psycho-Viking with a taste for speed metal because the rage and rhythm contained in 2001 Stonewell is extraordinary and frankly fairly terrifying. I opened this wine one afternoon to taste and it was still careering around the bottle ten days later. A megalithic creation that should only be drunk in the company of seasoned warriors.
2002 Castagna Genesis Syrah, Beechworth, Vic GN £35
A labyrinthine wine from the awesome 2002 vintage, this is a biodynamically farmed magnum opus from the spectacular Castagna operation. Even, considered and magically proportioned, this is a medium-weight wine with an earthiness and trueness about its direction which I find thoroughly captivating.
2004 Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz, Hunter Valley, NSW LA £41
This is my favourite Graveyard in years, but don’t expect a fanfare and dancing girls. This wine has vulpine qualities and it prowls around your palate looking for signs of fleshy weakness before it strikes. Nervy, animal and uncompromising, this is an edge of the seat red wine.
2004 Kay Brother Amery Block 6 Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA LA £60
I tasted the fruit, the ferment, several barrel samples and now this bottled wine, and at every stage of its production 2004 Block 6 has been nothing short of utterly mind-blowing. From one of the most energy-filled and yet monastically calm vineyards in Australia, comes the wine we have all been waiting for. Don’t miss this opportunity.
2002 Penfolds Grange, Australia LA £150
Johnny Depp doesn’t swash his buckle as much as this baby in the glass. Is Grange 2002 worth the hype – you bet you bloody life on it. This is a Great Grange, with a longer life ahead of it than my own.
SWEET & FORTIFIED
2006 Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora, Vic – half bottle BC £tbc
If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix a bloody thing – 2006 OM&F is a cracker – tighter and zippier than usual, but still with that heavenly Clementine juice aroma. Yum.
NV Pertaringa The Full Fronti, McLaren Vale, SA – 50cl bottle RH £11
A clever blend of crunchy coffee beans, home made toffee, sultanas and pink panties, this is a Fronti (Muscat à Petit Grains, in European) that is guaranteed to knocks your socks and whatever else you like off!
2005 Keith Tulloch Botrytised Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW – half bottle RH £12
Keith Tulloch’s unctuous Semillon is now my wine of choice when I entertain my French friends. While they deliberate about Cru and Commune I smile and feel ridiculously smug.
2006 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling, Clare Valley, SA – half bottle RH £15
Every year, Steph’s sweetie makes the hit parade. She leads the pack and the pack seems to have stopped chasing. A wonderful treat and a magical flavour that I never tire of.
NV Turkey Flat, Pedro Ximénez, Barossa Valley, SA – half bottle GN £15
Turkey Flat’s PX is a delightful creation, which sidles up to you and while you’re not looking repeatedly bashes you over the head with a large and heavy stick and then plants a huge smacker on your lips which has the effect of leaving you feeling dazed, dizzy and moderately aroused in one go – odd, but I am not complaining.
NV Campbell’s Merchant Prince Liqueur Muscat, Rutherglen, Vic – half bottle LA £37
Let’s adjourn to somewhere more comfortable because I think it is illegal to enjoy this wine while vertical. There is not much choice of liqueur Muscat in the UK, but you don’t need any – this is the best wine. Sensational!