A wonderful article on my 100 Best Australian Wines 2018/19 Launch

 The Best Australian Tasting Ever?

by Richard Hemming MW

published in the Purple Pages of JancisRobinsom.com

I am always delighted when fellow wine writers appreciate the work that goes into compiling my annual 100 Best Australian Wines Report.  This piece, written by Richard Hemming MW and published on JancisRobinson.com last week, is a high point in commentary over the last fifteen years.  I have been given permission to share it with you. MJ

The stars aligned in several ways for Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wines tasting on 30 May in London. Firstly, the room in Australia House was a veritable who’s who of the British wine trade, attended by dozens of top writers, buyers, importers and retailers, all of whom were tasting keenly – no mean feat for spoilt professionals who so often get access to great wine from all over the world.

Secondly, the wines themselves were a pantheon of celestial names, hand-picked by Matthew Jukes for this fifteenth edition of his annual guide, designed to be the best-in-class examples for their price, variety and origin – and which must also be available in the UK.

Finally, and most importantly, the wines themselves were absolutely stellar. I can’t remember an Australian tasting with such a consistently high strike rate, both from those with a reputation to uphold and from new names. While I freely admit that I tasted only styles which I expected to like the most, I was still seriously impressed by just how high the standards were.

While the tasting notes will, I hope, speak for themselves, here are a few highlights worth mentioning. Both Tyrrells Vat 1 and Mount Pleasant Lovedale demonstrated Hunter Valley Semillon at the very top of their game, with the slightly older Lovedale being particularly impressive and a great demonstration of a true Aussie original. However, it is the Chardonnay which will almost inevitably attract the most attention, with 11 out of 12 scoring at least 17.5, all of which demonstrated a mastery of the variety from (almost) every corner of the country. It struck me that the pendulum of taste is currently in the ideal position, having swung away from too much oak and alcohol, then too far towards the reductive, thin end of the spectrum and now settling at the ideal equidistance between the two poles [hear, hear – JR].

With the reds, a few Pinot Noirs and Cabernets showed typical purity and conviction, but it was the Syrah/Shirazes that really set my pulse racing. My second-ever encounter with Major Kong (label pictured above) has established it as one of my all-time favourites of the variety, where the stemmy herbal notes combine with superbly ripe black fruit and floral scent. Again, it seems as if such styles have found the ideal equilibrium between naturally generous fruit ripeness and stylised winemaking techniques.

The prices quoted applied when the tasting booklet for this event was compiled, meaning that some prices and stockists will inevitably have changed, and while there are few wines below £20 in this line-up, there are still some excellent and worthwhile buys in a global fine-wine context. Congratulations are due to London-based wine writer Matthew Jukes for assembling such a tremendous selection.

To read Richard’s 32 insightful tasting notes please click and subscribe to Jancis’s website on the link below.