d’Arenberg Pollyanna Polly/ Non-Vintage

A wine dedicated to the winemaker’s mother, Pauline, who was known as Pollyanna Polly, this easy going sparkling combines all three major sparkling grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier. What it lacks in aldehydic complexity, it makes up for in a bright citrusy personality. A pretty, unassuming bubbly from the Adelaide Hills.

Score: 87/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 11.5%


Seppelt Show Sparkling Limited Edition Shiraz 2007

What a pleasure it is – and an honour – to taste this classic Aussie sparkling aged for eight years on lees before release, maintaining a full frontal savoury, earthy, sweet, spicy, shiraz attack with bubbles! Grampians shiraz writ large with layers of red fruit, florals and cloves, cinnamon spice but, importantly, it tastes fresh and lively thanks to a 3% addition of ’14 shiraz in the topping up liqueur.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2036 Alc: 13.5%


Taylors Bottle Fermented Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut Cuvee Non-Vintage

A sub-$20 bubbly complete with the normal dressings of a bottle of sparkling except for the fact that it comes with a screwcap. No more cork taint issues. Brilliant! An easy going, highly drinkable all-rounder: preserved lemon, pear, bruised apple on bouquet with a gentle yeastiness, citrus, nuts on the palate. Fresh and brisk.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 12.5%


LaLinea Adelaide Hills Mencia 2016

A new grape to Australia, Spain’s mencia puts forward a most convincing case made as a rose. Winemaker, Peter Leske, has produced a charming wine, a pretty one, too, with the hue of tuber roses. Raspberry fool, strawberry and sweet boiled lolly offer an inviting bouquet, while the palate explores the grape’s textural qualities, bringing out a light spiciness and finishing with brisk acidity. Very refreshing when chilled right down. La Linea also makes mencia as a serious red wine (see separate tasting note).

Score: 90/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 12.5%


Levantine Hill Yarra Valley Rose 2016

Made “predominantly” from cabernet sauvignon (there is no other information forthcoming), this rose is rich and full in body, flavour and texture. Plum, stewed rhubarb, wild red berries. Generous berry flavours all round on the palate and the acid line brings everything nicely to a clean and brisk close.

Score: 85/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13.5%


Mitolo McLaren Vale Grenache Rose 2016

A super dry rose with a strong acid line and length, a wine that just about stands up and demands a plate of fresh prawns or King George whiting. Pale salmon pink introduces a bouquet that smells of cherry, strawberry, fresh herbs and earth – quite an enticing mix – before what is a taut and linear palate. Will appeal to acid hounds and those who like a light savouriness to their rose.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 12.5%


Riposte The Foil Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016

From the traditional heart of sauvignon blanc in Australia, Riposte offers a tale of two savvies. One is the high tone, over-the-top tropical fruits kind, passionfruit and melon dominant. The bouquet fairly bristles with fruit salad. The palate offers another expression of the grape with fresh herbs, notably lemon thyme, playing a bigger role. Could be mistaken for an exuberant Kiwi (which may or may not be a good thing).

Score: 85/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13%


West Cape Howe Mount Barker Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Sauvignon blanc as we know it – impossibly passionfruit, lychees, an excess of ripe tropical fruits – but with one caveat, this wine is noticeably sweet, at times cloying. The Mount Barker appellation seems superfluous, clouded by sweetness, but I am in no doubt this wine has its fans.

Score: 84/100 TO: 2019 Alc: 13.3%


Printhie MCC Riesling 2016

So fine, so delicate, this riesling from Printhie’s Mt. Canobolas Collection reveals a hither-to unpublicised fact: Orange makes stunning riesling! High elevation vineyard sourcing provide not only the wine’s bracing acidity but bright aromatics. A floral, lime, fleshy palate awaits.

Score: 92/100 TO: 2026 Alc: 11.5%


Mitchelton Blackwood Park Riesling 2016

So fine, so delicate, this riesling from Printhie’s Mt. Canobolas Collection reveals a hither-to unpublicised fact: Orange makes stunning riesling! High elevation vineyard sourcing provide not only the wine’s bracing acidity but bright aromatics. A floral, lime, fleshy palate awaits.

Score: 91/100 TO: 2028 Alc: 12.5%


Seppeltsfield Eden Valley Riesling 2016

This wine appears far more developed both in colour and flavour for such a young riesling. Where you might expect green hues it has moved into yellow, and while the bouquet is high in florals, particularly attractive honeysuckle and citrus blossom, the palate has moved into toast and lemon curd. The textural element is also strong.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 11.8%


Shaw Vineyard Estate Riesling 2016

The Canberra region’s great white wine grape variety is riesling. No doubt about it. Shaw shows us a taut, youthful wine setting out on what should be a long journey. The acidity alone should keep it good for more than 10 years! Lime cordial, grapefruit and high florals introduce us to the linear style, nothing overblown. Green apple, ruby grapefruit and a singularly lemon juiciness with striking acidity complete the picture. Right now it’s a wine for acid hounds.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2031 Alc: 12.5%


Calabria Private Bin Vermentino 2016

In a nod to a warmer, drier future, Riverina producers are adopting Italian grape varieties such as vermentino, which retain their high natural acidity. With just a little barrel fermentation, vermentino delivers an attractive, textural wine. Medium yellow in colour, strong scent of lemongrass, lime and honeysuckle, the palate at once smooth and honeyed, finishes briskly with acid bite.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 12%


Chalmers Heathcote Fiano 2014

For those wondering what winemakers talk about when they throw out the tasting term “textural,” this is it. It is a defining feature of the fiano grape and this wine offers a palpable tactile experience that runs smooth and velvety over the tongue. Fresh and stewed pears, a little spiced apple and a touch of dried herbs completes the tasting picture.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 12.5%


Jim Barry Assyrtiko 2016

This is history in the making, the first production in Australia of the great Greek white wine grape, assyrtiko (a-seer-tee-ko). Grown in the Clare Valley, it shares a striking similarity to the region’s number one white grape, riesling. Imagine a fresh young riesling – aromatic with bright acidity – except assyrtiko tastes like it was grown next to a field of rosemary. The arresting herbal overlay to what is a super crisp white adds a mouth-watering touch.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 12.5%


Longview Queenie Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio 2016

What’s not to like? The appeal of pinot grigio grows and it’s not hard to understand why. Take Queenie, for example, here we see the Italian grape at its most subtle and drinkable. Grapes are picked and the fruit crushed, chilled and pressed and fermented in stainless steel and that’s it. You taste the grapes and nothing but the grapes: pear, citrus, Jonathan apple, hay. Mineral twang and a good line in acidity brings everything together to close.

Score: 87/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 12.5%


Montevecchio Bianco 2015

Field blends, a jumble of grape varieties sharing the same vineyard that are picked and made into wine, are all the rage. They are a return to the way wine used to be with no one flavour dominating. The Chalmers family have picked a bunch of their Italian white grapes grown at Heathcote and co-fermented them to produce a charming, easy drinking white. Fruit galore here: pear, bruised apple, melon. But it is the herbal thread running through the wine and the saline, seaspray overtone that provides the focal point. Drink now.

Score: 87/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13%


Seppeltsfield Barossa Vermentino 2016

The Italian vermentino grape is showing real class in Australia. Winemaker Fiona Donald does a fine job highlighting the grape’s suitability to the warmth of the Barossa, bringing out pear, apple and stone fruit on the bouquet and palate with a juicy saline brightness. Great summer drinking.

Score: 93/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 12%


Rutherglen Estates Renaissance Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 2015

The Italian vermentino grape is showing real class in Australia. Winemaker Fiona Donald does a fine job highlighting the grape’s suitability to the warmth of the Barossa, bringing out pear, apple and stone fruit on the bouquet and palate with a juicy saline brightness. Great summer drinking.

Score: 87/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13.5%


Mitchelton Marsanne 2016

With a higher level of acidity than usual, the coolness of the 2016 vintage is clearly expressed in the 2016 Mitchelton marsanne. Acid hounds will be delighted. The marsanne grape’s signature honeysuckle and jasmine florals dance but the tune ultimately is played by the acidity, keeping everything tight and controlled. Makes you seriously wonder about ageing the wine. Drink now and buy some for later.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2028 Alc: 13%


Fraser Gallop Estate Parterre Chardonnay 2015

A mighty consistent wine from year to year, Parterre chardonnay combines two great things about Margaret River: the gin-gin chardonnay clone and winemaker, Clive Otto (ex-Vasse Felix). The two understand each other very well. Wild yeast, whole bunches, and fermentation in oak enhance and amplify gin-gin’s presence in the glass. Ruby grapefruit, melon, stone fruits to start, followed by generous citrus, nougat and emerging complexity. Seamless, too.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 12%


Logan Apple Tree Flat Chardonnay 2015

Apple Tree Flat is located outside Mudgee, in case you didn’t know, and is home to the prodigious winemaker, Peter Logan who operates under three wine labels. Lifted, fairly ebullient fruit jumps out of the glass: citrus, stone fruits, fruit salad, fresh pear. A wine that relies on hitting high notes in its youth with a degree of sweetness, to boot. What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in personality!

Score: 84/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13%


Oakridge 864 Single Block Funder & Diamond Vineyard, Drive Block Chardonnay 2014

A little winemaking experimentation, namely an extra six months in tank prior to bottling, has added the kind of “love handles” that winemaker, David Wollan, was after to add bulk to his flagship Yarra Valley chardonnay. Creates real interest in the glass and fullness in the mouth: ripe stone fruits, sea spray and aromatic to start, followed by ruby grapefruit, musk, spice and a savoury richness.

Score: 96/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13.5%


Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2014

Fruit from Tasmania’s Derwent Valley and Central Highlands asserts itself (backed up by the Adelaide Hills) in this juicy, slatey/mineral intense Penfolds flagship chardonnay. Opens with smoky charr oak and high notes of scented daphne and spring blossom and moves into what might be described as a saline briskness: oyster shell, lemon delicious, nougat, with developing toastiness. Still coming together and building.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13%


William’s Crossing By Curly Flat Chardonnay 2015

A wine for all the wine geeks out there, one that embraces wild ferment, whole bunches, extended time on lees (12 months) and the full gamut of oak and stainless steel fermentation. In other words, it’s a winemaker’s wine, a highly personal expression of chardonnay from the Macedon Ranges. Preserved lemon and citrus rind, honey, fig, almond on the bouquet. Nougat, apple, lemon rind and savouriness distinguish the palate together with taut acidity.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 12.6%


Best’s PSV 141 Pinot Noir 2014

One of four special wine releases to celebrates Best’s Wines’ 150th birthday in 2016, this wine is off 148-year-old vines on the Pig Sty Vineyard (PSV), believed to be the oldest pinot vines in the world. It is indeed something special to behold in the glass, so effortlessly harmonious and composed. Scented with exuberant spice, black and red berries, nicely matched with vanilla oak, it offers a fine-grained finish. Still so much yet to give.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2030 Alc: 12%


Eldridge Estate PTG Pinot Noir/Gamay 2016

A bow to Burgundy’s Passe-Tout-Grains appellation, Eldridge’s PTG exudes total irresistibility. The purple/cherry colour catches the eye, the bouquet reinforces the wine’s approachability with a fruit-bomb of raspberries, cherries, plums, confection. The palate, however, is all seriousness with warm, cherry-chocolate flavours and smooth tannins.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2023 Alc: 12.5%


Riposte The Sabre Pinot Noir 2014

The Knappsteins moved from the Clare Valley to the Adelaide Hills some years ago in order to work with cooler climate grape varieties such as pinot noir. However, the 2014 vintage wasn’t cool in the least, the year starting with 40 C. degree days and fires, and the warm conditions are reflected in this sweet, ripe pinot noir. Juicy raspberries, stewed plums and lifted spice. Generous, forward palate, round and textural with an interesting – and attractive – dried cranberry thread. Drink sooner rather than later.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 13.5%


Zuccaro’s Six Acres White Label Pinot Noir 2015

Not all pinots sit in a dark corner brooding and reading Nietzsche, some are far sunnier in disposition. This wine is one of them: cloudy in appearance, tobacco, fresh cherry, aniseed on the bouquet with a big mouthful of ripe, sweet fruit to follow. Drops away on the finish but it’s awfully tasty while it is there.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13.5%


A. Retief Winbirra Vineyard Gundagai Shiraz 2015

Grown biodynamically in Gundagai and made in Alex Retief’s Sydney urban winery, this young, sweet-fruited shiraz is one big, mouthful of flavour. However, it remains a work in progress with the vanilla oak sitting separate to the ripe, chocolate, plum, red and blue fruits. The all-Aussie peppery characters will appeal to most but, probably not all, drinkers. A little disjointed at this stage.

Score: 85/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13.5%


Best’s FHT Shiraz 1999

One of four special wine releases to celebrate Best’s Wines’ 150th birthday in 2016, this wine is an aged re-release from what was considered one of the great vintages and named in honour of Viv Thomson’s father, Frederick Hamill Thomson. Age has served it well, retaining a bright hue and exhibiting a lively, earthy savouriness when tasted in 2016. At the peak of its charm but it’s worth noting that at this age, some bottles will undoubtedly be better than others.

Score: 93/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 14.5%


Best’s Sparky’s Block Shiraz 2014

One of four special wine releases to celebrate Best’s Wines’ 150th birthday in 2016, this wine is named after Marcus “Sparky” Thomson, the youngest son of owners, Viv and Christine Thomson, who planted the Sparky’s Block in his birth year, 1970. Immediately youthful yet approachable, solid purple in colour, saturated black berry fruits, clove, white pepper. An intriguing wine, made doubly so by the enduring violet and rose petal aromatics.

Score: 97/100 TO: 2040 Alc: 13.5%


Best’s The Concongella 1868 Vines Shiraz 2013

One of four special wine releases to celebrate Best’s Wines’ 150th birthday in 2016, the blending of old vine pinot meunier, shiraz and dolcetto is a hark back to early Best’s red styles. The maturity of the vines brings a deeply concentrated flavour experience: sour cherries, pronounced red fruit, licorice, dried herbs and a savoury gameyness.

Score: 96/100 TO: 2033 Alc: 12.5%


Penfolds Bin 95 Grange 2012

On the back of a lesser Grange from 2011, comes the return of a notable Grange displaying a perfectly poised power. Toasted coconut, coffee, mocha, licorice block, smoked meats and there, above the ripe black and blue berried fruits, a lingering, lively floral-violet scent. A dense wine, a full-blooded, tannic Grange expression as ever, casting an enticing charm already. The only sour note? Another price rise.

Score: 98/100 TO: 2040 Alc: 14.5%


Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz 2014

A wine that will always divide drinkers. It’s brash and strident with 100% new French and American oak making its presence felt, not always welcomed by all drinkers. It can often appear reedy. A rush of oak – sandalwood, cedar – greets the drinker. Cranberry, tart goji berries, red fruits and aniseed on the palate finishing with polished tannins.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2033 Alc: 14.5%


Penfolds RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014

Barossa fruit is selected here for its “aromatic qualities and lush texture,” according to chief winemaker, Peter Gago, and the 2014 vintage appears to have helped in this regard contributing some hugely appealing violet, potpourri florals and pepper aromas. The liveliness of fruit is instant: red licorice, cassis, black cherry, dried fruits, musky scented spice, measured French oak, refined tannins. One of the better RWTs released for a while.

Score: 96/100 TO: 2044 Alc: 14.5%


Seppelt St. Peters Grampians Shiraz 2014

First made in 1964 as Great Western Hermitage, St. Peters represents the very essence of what is best about Grampian’s shiraz: medium-bodied never loud, fine in structure (here, due in large part, to moderate vintage conditions) and lively, bright fruit tending towards the dry and savoury. Chocolate, aniseed, smoky spice, violets and an understated power all delivered in the glass.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2040 Alc: 14.1%


Seppeltsfield Barossa Shiraz 2015

This is the archetypal Barossa shiraz, the one everyone imagines the region producing. It’s got a tonne of personality and presence built upon ripe fruit and generous alcohol. Made the old way in the Seppeltsfield 1888 Gravity Cellar, love the way this shiraz builds in the glass. Stewed plums, black berries, clove, cinnamon, earth and leathery savouriness introduce the wine. It glides effortlessly, lovely oak integration and the effect is balanced and together.

Score: 91/100 TO: 2028 Alc: 14.8%


Cabernet d’Soumah Select Vineyard 2015

Long before shiraz or pinot noir, it was cabernet sauvignon that put the Yarra Valley on the Australian wine map. Soumah Wines at Gruyere continues to show drinkers why the grape deserves its reputation in the Valley, producing a super friendly wine at a good price. Sweet, ripe red and black fruits combine with some pretty schmick oak – vanilla, coffee grounds – on the bouquet. There is a gentle savouriness to this wine and its cabernet herbal character is far from pronounced, rather it remains more of a pleasant afterthought.

Score: 89/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 14%


Maygars Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

A handsome cabernet, deep and dark in intensity. How good is this wine from the Strathbogie Ranges, a region more usually celebrated for its shiraz? Medium in body it shows great presence in the glass: blackberry, dark chocolate, earth, menthol. It aspires to and succeeds in achieving elegance, the tannins stirring but never dominant.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 14%


Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

What, no Coonawarra? This Australian benchmark for cabernet contains fruit from the Barossa Valley, Padthaway and Port Lincoln, which slurped up 17 months of 100% new American oak, no problem. Powerful and concentrated blackcurrant/pastille, roast root vegetable with high notes of green leafiness, the ’14 comes across as one of the more reserved 707s. Supple, velvety tannins still meshing.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2034 Alc: 14.5%


Reschke Bos Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

An aged release intended to highlight the natural affinity between cabernet sauvignon and Coonawarra. However, it must be said that the role of the cork – a cork flavour rather than straight out cork taint – has made its presence here uncomfortably felt. Earth, leather, licorice and the undeniable impact of a feral gameyness are the mark of this wine. A good decant is recommended.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13.9%


A. Retief Field Blend 2015

A busy field blend with seven red grapes led by grenache and merlot with support from mataro, malbec, tempranillo, petit verdot and a dash of shiraz. It’s a real mash up of a dry red with flavours running into one another, and unlike many field blends the grapes weren’t co-fermented, which kind of goes against the wine’s raison d’etre. Licorice, earth, beetroot, spice, blueberries, black berries and a pervading savouriness are the main attractions here in a wine that the maker admits is just meant to be fun. Fair enough.

Score: 85/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13%


Billy Button Alpine Valleys The Squid Saperavi 2015

Monstrous tannins are usually a bit of a problem with this Georgian red grape. Not so here. A penetrating aroma of black berries, briar, dried rosemary introduces a wine medium in weight and expansive in flavour. Those tannins, while persistent, are under complete control, leaving a charming wine made from a grape that can be considered no longer a curio.

Score: 93/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 14.5%


Chalmers Nero d’Avola 2015

The Sicilian red grape can be deceptive on the eye, looking slightly frivolous and fun in its bright cherry tones. The bouquet substantiates the frivolity: sour cherries, aniseed, earth, high spice, sweet fruits. The palate, however, is a different story, one that is structured, almost lean, while embracing layers of flavours and rose petal aromatics. The finish is dry and astringent in the Italian way.

Score: 87/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13.5%


La Linea Mencia 2016

La Linea, a noted Adelaide Hills-based producer of the Spanish red grape, tempranillo, now has another Spanish grape in its sights. Mencia is noted for its floral and red fruits, qualities brought to the fore in this wine. Blue and red berries, high spice with cloves dominant. However, it is striking white pepper and spice playing on the palate together with a firm acid line that gives real substance and length to this wine.

Score: /100 TO: 2024 Alc: 12.5%


La Prova Rosso 2015

Full-on sweet, ripe plum, chocolate and spice is just the beginning to this busy, fruit-led young red that bristles with energy. Sam Scott of La Prova has latched on to a bunch of Italian grapes grown in South Australian soil – sangiovese, nero d’avola, lagrein, primitivo – and let rip their gorgeous primary fruits, reinforced with a subtle layer of oak. This is a wine to enjoy in the full expression of youth.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2018 Alc: 13%


Rutherglen Estates Single Vineyard Sangiovese 2015

A throwback to a time when oak was a dominant flavour force in Australian red winemaking, this sangiovese suffers from a little too much oak love. Vanilla, mocha, ripe black fruits, spice on the bouquet and round and soft on the palate, the effect is more dry reddish than you might want with just a whisper of Italian-esque astringency to close.

Score: 87/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 13.5%


St. John’s Road Barossa LSD Lagrein Shiraz Durif 2015

Can’t say whether the name and fun labelling came first or a deep desire to do a LSD blend. Suspect the former. On paper, each variety should have a role to play: lagrein’s dark berries, shiraz’s juicy sweetness and durif’s tannic presence. However, it is the tannins that rule, especially on the finish. Vanilla, blackberry, spice on the bouquet opens up on the palate with chocolate, dried herbs, sweet blue fruits and plenty of spice leading into that tannic finish. The rustic approach has some appeal.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2023 Alc: 14.5%



Clyde Park Estate Rose 2016

The nose has a summer berry aroma that is immediately inviting: raspberry, wild strawberry, cherry and fresh herbs. It’s built with a little more substance than most, and while the identity of the grape or grapes behind this wine remains a mystery (at least on the label), it shows all the elements of a serious rose with mid palate texture and depth. Jeni Port Reviews for April, 2017

Score: 94/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 12%


MitoloJester Sangiovese Rose 2016

There’s a rash of roses about made out of Italian grape varieties. It’s to be applauded, they bring an attractive savouriness to the style. Love the onion skin colour on this wine from McLaren Vale and the ruby grapefruit, raspberry fruits on the nose and palate.

Score: 91/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 12.5%


West Cape Howe Tempranillo Rose 2016

The vibrant, confectionery-pink colour can’t be missed, neither can tempranillo’s spice and raspberry notes on the nose. This is a delicious, more-ish rose that rests entirely upon ripe, fresh fruit – pomegranate, raspberry, berry pastille – and bright acidity.

Score: 88/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13%


Clyde Park Sauvignon Blanc 2016

An interesting style of sauvignon blanc from the Geelong-based Clyde Park Vineyard that reveals a different side to the grape, a pear-dominant, gris-like savouriness and texture. The colour, too, is more in keeping with gris than sauvignon blanc. Not sure whether too many drinkers would immediately associate this wine with sauvignon blanc, I didn’t, but there you go.

Score: 85/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 13%


Xanadu Margaret River DJL Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2016

The Bordeaux-style white blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon has long been championed by Margaret River winemakers and is well-suited to the region. Here, in a wine dedicated to Xanadu’s founder Dr John Lagan, we see the epitome of the style with vibrant, exuberant savvy herbaceousness and tropical fruits – namely passionfruit – set off nicely by semillon’s more understated mealy, hay and subtle persona.

Score: 89/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 13%


Gee Whiz Tram Driver Gewurztraminer Riesling 2016

First, to that name.It’s Barossa slang for gewürztraminer used as an aide to drinkers to get their tongue around the Germanic sounds. The colour is very pale but right from the get go the unmistakable varietal aroma of gewürztraminer is there: rose petal, florals and spring blossom. This is a super dry, super attractive white wine with gewurz’s often over-the-top characters in check allowing riesling (28%) to also shine. Fine Eden Valley acidity drives the wine which boasts generous flavour of citrus, rose and spice.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2023 Alc: 12%


McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Cellar Aged Elizabeth Semillon 2007

A great Australian wine icon still delivering the goods at a ridiculous price.McWilliam’s long ago made the commitment to the drinker to show them the beauty of semillon as an aged wine. Not many wines will be aged by the maker for nearly a decade before being released under $30 a bottle. Astonishing.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2027 Alc: 11%


Tim Adams Clare Valley Semillon 2014

A most generous semillon beginning to reveal its aged personality. The bouquet has some developed toasty and honey, jasmine and apricot notes. It’s big on flavour as well as texture with grass-hay, dried herbs and lantana and finishes long.

Score: 88/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 12%


Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Beechworth Chardonnay 2016

One of the biggest vineyards in Beechworth, Indigo has proven its ability to produced consistently excellent chardonnay over the years. The 2016 vintage doesn’t disappoint. Nectarine, white peach, apple, thyme and white flowers make the introductions on the bouquet. Oak treatment is thankfully subtle and the region’s mineral-rich soils bring an effortless structure to this most attractive wine.

Score: 93/100 TO: 2026 Alc: 12.5%


Calabria Three Bridges Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2016

Tumbarumba chardonnay was originally sought out by winemakers for sparkling wines, but now I suspect more chardonnay goes into table wines. The cool region is known for its scintillating acidity. It’s a big feature of this wine and an attractive feature along with a zesty, grapefruit, stone fruit intensity on the nose and the palate. The finish is light but persistent.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 13.5%


Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2015

Vanya Cullen is one of the more consistent producers of chardonnay in the country, fashioning deeply refined wines from the Margaret River region. True complexity drives this wine, derived from fermentation in oak, wild yeasts, superb oak handling and pristine fruit. Fig, quince, spiced apple, citrus rind, stone fruits and toasted bread. It’s quite unctuous in the mouth displaying lemon, fig, matchstick, cashew nut and saline qualities and what length!

Score: 96/100 TO: 2027 Alc: 13%


Yering Station Chardonnay 2015

Yering Station built its reputation on chardonnay and is a master of the luscious, elegant interpretation of the Burgundian grape. The nose is led by fig, melon, stone fruits with some subtle barrel input. This is a real crowd pleaser, one that doesn’t rely on super ripe fruit or oak but rather a fine, long palate and beautiful balance.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13%


Yering Station Village Chardonnay 2016

Maybe it was the Yarra Valley vintage conditions, in which crop yields were reportedly higher than in recent years, but this normally consistent second label chardonnay from Yering Station comes across as shy and light-bodied. It’s clean and fresh with delicate stone fruit aromas and flavours. Acidity is bright

Score: 87/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13%


BrokenwoodBeechworth Pinot Gris 2016

Notes of pears, spices, honeysuckle and hay introduce this medium-bodied gris. There’s the sense of a personality still in development. While the bouquet sings, the palate in contrast appears more subdued and elegant with a gentle spiced apple. Texture, the griscalling card, is smooth and refined.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13.5%


Clyde Park Pinot Gris 2016

An unusual gris style that at times takes flight into gewürztraminer territory, especially on the bouquet, with high florals and an intriguing lychee, rose petal, spicy scent. It’s light and fruity in the mouth revealing more gris-like characters with apricot and good texture. Easy drinking .

Score: 85/100 TO: 2020 Alc: 13%


West Cape Howe Pinot Grigio 2016

West Cape Howe specialises in exuberant, slightly over-the-top versions of popular grape varieties. They leap out of the glass and are made to appeal to the widest possible audience upon release. The pinot grigio plays the tropical fruit card led by pear backed up by racy acidity. Drink sooner rather than later.

Score: 85/100 TO: 2019 Alc: 12.5%


Brokenwood Beechworth Pinot Noir 2015

A fragrant pinot noir opening with autumnal notes, undergrowth and black berries and plums. The maker has chosen to pursue savouriness over sweetness, highlighting earth, mushroom and spice on the palate which is deep, soft and layered. There’s a lot here to like.

Score: 91/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13.5%


William’s Crossing by Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2015

It’s unfair to present William’s Crossing as some marketing afterthought, a second label, to the main Curly Flat feature. It is a stand-alone wine offering a distinctive view of the pinot noir grape, one that is fresh, lively and floral. The 2015 pinot bristles with energy. The colour is fairly light for an Aussie pinot. The bouquet offers a sweet-scented musk, pot pourri with an arresting aroma thread of cool-climate tomato leaf. The palate offers a repeat with added pepper, warmth and spice.

Score: 93/100 TO: 2023 Alc: 14.1%


Yering Station Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2015

A wine of complexity and finesse, qualities we can come to be associated with pinot from the Yarra Valley, a region that has done so much to put the grape on the Australian wine map.The 2015 Yering Station shows licorice, chocolate and a delicious Cherry Ripe confection note on the bouquet. The mood on the palate is more serious and lightly savoury with sustained length. Very impressive.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13.5%


Blackjack Block 6 Bendigo Shiraz 2014

As their slogan says, “Blackjack Is Red,” making only red wines from the Bendigo region. Ian McKenzie and Ken Pollock are experienced in capturing the region’s full on richness and depth. This is typically characterful, a deep coloured shiraz bursting with sweet spice and ripe red and black berries on the bouquet. It offers a big mouthful of flavour but the French oak tends to be a little intrusive. Pity.

Score: 86/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13.5%


Calabria Three Bridges Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015

A good, mainstream shiraz from the Barossa Valley made to please. Dense in colour it boasts an arresting full attack of blackberry, mocha and spice on the bouquet. It’s a warm welcome, one that is carried through on the palate with full-bodied, layered flavours. The oak plays a strong supporting role without being intrusive.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2023 Alc: 14.5%


Tahbilk Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2015

There is a typical Bordeaux blend led by cabernet sauvignon – structured and disciplined - and then there is the typical Rhone Valley blend led by grenache. The Tahbilk 2015 GSM perfectly captures the blend’s playfulness and spicy nature which makes the style so enjoyable and easy to understand. Serious savoury notes to start: earth, leather, plums, black berries. The palate is warm and inviting, expansive even.

Score: 89/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 14%


Tim Adams Clare Valley The Fergus 2014

Always a delight, The Fergus is usually built around grenache, the first grenache was sourced from Tim Adams’ neighbour, Fergus Mahon in 1993. This year it shares the bottle with tempranillo and malbec and saw American and French oak maturation. A smooth, fruit-dominant wine with a warm, inviting personality, The Fergus plays to the strengths of the three grapes: tempranillo’s dark cherry spice; grenache’s meaty earthiness and malbec’s tannic clout. Lovely balance.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 14%


Brown Brothers Patricia Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Patricia Brown was the patriarch of the Brown family with a deep love and abiding passion for the family business. She died in 2004. The wines named in her honour are among the best produced by the company, this cabernet another strong release from an excellent year. Fruit was sourced from the King and Yea Valleys and Bendigo and, with five years’ bottle age is still gaining in complexity. Marvellous cabernet aromas of blackcurrant, violets, crushed leaves and oak is so well balanced. The palate is smooth and fluent showing an effortless elegance.

Score: 96/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13.5%


Fraser Gallop Estate Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

To be frank, this wine tastes like a 100% cabernet sauvignon. It is interesting, therefore, to note that there are another four grapes included: petit verdot, merlot, malbec and just one per cent cabernet franc. The heady scent is pure cabernet: rosemary and thyme supported by blackberry. It’s a loose-knit kind of cabernet with ripe, plummy earthy fruit. Nice oak complements.

Score: 88/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13.5%


Levantine Hill Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Levantine Hill is a multi-million-dollar project of love by Melbourne developer, Elias Jreissati (CORRECT) who has adopted right from the start a money is no object philosophy. He loves Bordeaux reds and it’s obvious the LV cabernet is intended as the flagship. Winemaker, Paul Bridgeman, has done another fine job with the grape from a good vintage. The wine has plenty of blueberry, cassis and toasty influences, well harmonised on the bouquet and palate. It’s a smooth and elegant wine of class.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2026 Alc: 13%


Xanadu DJL Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Dr John Lagan (DJL) was a strong pioneering influences in the early days of Margaret River when he founded Xanadu in 1977. This wine is named in his honour. It’s a fine wine, too, from an excellent vintage, indeed, the eighth successive year of favourable conditions. A solid cabernet, full-bodied and smooth with an easy going nature.Blackberry, black olive savouriness, chocolate and vanilla, too, on the bouquet and palate. It’s not especially complex but mighty drinkable.

Score: 88/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 14%


A. Retief Petit Verdot 2015

A 100% petit verdot is not the easiest wine to warm to. It’s a question of tannic proportion, there’s too much of it, which is generally why it’s considered a blending tool. This petit verdot, sourced from the Hilltops region tries its best. It looks the part featuring an inky black colour – very p.v. - and the savoury tomato leaf, cranberry, earth, licorice and vibrant black berried fruits do make a convincing case but those sharp tannin edges, man, they grate.

Score: 85/100 TO: 2030 Alc: 13.5%


A. Retief Tempranillo 2015

The colour, a dense and dark purple, immediately catches the eye. This is one intriguing, serious tempranillo – generous, too - sourced from the emerging Gundagai region of NSW. Blackcurrant pastille and smoky oak are vibrant on the bouquet. A big mouthful of black fruits awaits on the palate, super-spiced up, drawn together on the finish with a lip-smacking Mediterranean-style dry astringency.

Score: 93/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13.5%


Brokenwood Beechworth Tempranillo 2016

So many Australian winemakers taste the tempranillo grape and see shiraz. And that’s what they make. Nothing wrong with that, there’s always sweet, ripe fruit a-plenty in that kind of winemaking and here it is in the Brokenwood Beechworth tempranillo. Wild strawberry, red licorice strap, chocolate, confection and juicy, black sweet stewed cherries are the introduction on the bouquet. The juicy sweet red and blue berry characters and high spice continue on the palate. Delicious

Score: 90/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13.5%


Calabria Private Bin Aglianico 2015

Such is its high level of acidity and tannin, the Italian aglianico grape is often likened to nebbiolo. We can only hope that it ages as well as the grape of Barolo. This young, savoury wine from the Riverina certainly looks like it could go 10 years or more thanks to firm tannin. Briar, fresh herbs, red currant and funky earthy aromas of great concentration. In the mouth, the flavours are warmer and mouth-filling with spice, black fruits, chocolate built upon a solid foundation of savoury tannins.

Score: 91/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 14%


Calabria Private Bin Montepulciano 2016

Another in the strong line-up of Italian grape varieties from Calabria Wines in the Riverina made by award-winning winemaker, Emma Norbiato.The Montepulciano grape, originally from the Abruzzo region, is showing great promise in this country. The powerfully flavoured red is purple/black in colour. Violets, attractive florals and spicy blue fruits on the nose while the palate kicks in with plenty of alcohol warmth, bitter chocolate, red cherries and powdery tannins. It cries out for something equally rich in the way of food.

Score: 92/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 14.5%


Calabria Private Bin Nero d’Avola 2016

The Calabria family based in the Riverina region is kicking goals with its Private Bin series of well-priced Italian white and red grape varieties. Their Italian heritage is clearly providing them with great insight into grapes like nerod’avola which is expressed here in a fruit-forward, drink now style. Stewed plums, black cherries , violets and florals entice on the bouquet. The palate is all about ripe flavours, good intensity and length. Smooth, too.

Score: 96/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 14.5%


Calabria Three Bridges Durif 2015

Everything about this wine is outsized from the dense, black colour to the voluminous dark fruited flavour, coconut oak and tannin. Durif’s abundant tannins can intimidate some winemakers (with good reason) but winemaker, Emma Norbiato, embraces them, choosing to use them to construct a big, generous red.

Score: 87/100 TO: 2030 Alc: 14.5%


La Linea Tempranillo 2015

Winemaker, Peter Leske, helped pioneer the tempranillo grape in the Adelaide Hills back in 2001 and has a deep understanding on how to bring out its best. He looks to a fleshy, medium-weight wine with savoury tannins, but really the first impression of his 2015 is all about a heady floral fragrance. Gorgeous. Red berries, red licorice, pomegranate molasses, spice and vanilla all combine to impress on the palate.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13.5%


Devil’s Corner Tasmanian Riesling 2016

The success of Tassie chardonnay and pinot gris has overtaken drinker interest in cool climate riesling from the island state. This is a mistake as a glass of Devil’s Corner riesling, sourced from the East Coast, reveals. White flowers, green apple and lifted spice are heady in scent. Everything about this time is bright and lively from the cool climate acidity to preserved lemon, ruby grapefruit and lingering spice flavours on the palate.

Score: 89/100 TO: 2026 Alc: 12%


Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Riesling 2016

Fowles Wines had a massive hit on their hands with Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch shiraz, and it has now extended the brand to include other varieties like riesling. With plantings in decline, it can only be good for riesling. The Strathbogie Ranges already has a good reputation with riesling drinkers, its granite outcrops giving the grape purity of flavour and structure. Light florals, lemon and musk on the nose opens on the palate with citrus, crunchy apple intensity. So bright!

Score: 90/100 TO: 2027 Alc: 13%


McHenry Hohnen Calgardup Brook Vineyard Chardonnay 2015

David Hohnen helped pioneer chardonnay in the Margaret River at Cape Mentelle and his family’s label continues the legacy. The style is far from shy. Fruit off the Calgardup Vineyard is so robust it easily takes to oak, slurping it up, and allowing the winemaker to introduce some complexing buttery richness, vanillin and nutty notes combining with lush tropical fruit. This wine offers power rather than finesse.

Score: 88/100 TO: 2022 Alc: 13.5%


Tyrrell’s Wines Hunter Valley Moon Mountain Chardonnay 2015

One of the great Hunter Valley “hero” grape varieties, as Tyrrells acknowledges on the back label, chardonnay in this part of the world is rarely, if ever, shy in personality. Moon Mountain, sourced from a number of vineyards, is in keeping with that style. It sports a deep yellow colour for a two-year-old with a developed sense of self: mealy, roasted nuts, ripe melon/peach fruit. Love the creamy texture and the relatively low-key oak and the sustained flavours on the palate. A wine to get your teeth into.

Score: 91/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13%


TarraWarra Estate B & G Block, Reserve Chardonnay 2015

TarraWarra Estate enjoys a fine reputation as a top chardonnay maker not only in the Yarra Valley but Australia. The age of vines and the long-term commitment of chief winemaker, Clare Halloran, produces some formidable wines. Add a terrific vintage like 2015 and you’re talking some seriously good chardonnay, such as this. The bouquet is nicely nuanced with citrus, apple and nougat. The palate steps up, concentrated and multi-faceted and full of intrigue.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 13.2%


TarraWarra Estate Limited Release MDB Block B Chardonnay 2015

This is only the third time a limited release MDB chardonnay has been made to honour TarraWarra founders, Marc and Daniel Besen. Previous wines were made in 2006 and 2010. The level of finesse and poise is raised considerably in this beautifully crafted chardonnay from the Yarra Valley, with hand-selected fruit from what winemaker, Clare Halloran, calls “minute parcels” of super-premium fruit. The palate is tight, succulent with stylish fruit and smart oak with layered fruit flavour and complexity. And so very long on the finish.

Score: 96/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 12.8%


Paracombe Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc continues to sell well because it leaves those super herbaceous styles to the Kiwis, and is content offering a more subtle style with greater textural appeal. Paracombe’s latest release continues in that vein with a sprinkling of garden herbs and tropical fruit scents across the bouquet. The palate starts quietly – lemon, lantana, ruby grapefruit - and builds in warm herbal flavour and texture. Drink now and enjoy the moment.

Score: 89/100 TO: 2021 Alc: 13%


Redman Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Redman offers an expression of cabernet sauvignon that is timeless in its appeal. In the Redman family winemaking book it’s all about the soil, terra rossa, and cabernet sauvignon. It’s a match made in heaven and the Redman boys try to keep winemaking old school and relatively low tech. What you get to taste is earth, dense fruit and concentrated blackberry layered between cinnamon, clove, ripe plums, sweet spice, leafy dried herbs, chocolate and cedar. The gentle savouriness fills the senses.

Score: 88/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 13.4%


Paracombe Adelaide Hills Cabernet Franc 2011

Australian winemakers still see cabernet franc principally as a blending tool. Paracombe not only sees the grape’s role as a stand-alone wine but as a stand-alone, aged wine. It’s a daring move in this country and it’s paid off. This limited release, seven years old at tasting, has developed a charming, mellow complexity. No edges to speak of but rather a surprisingly deeply-flavoured franc with good mouthfeel and weight, balanced oak and vibrant red fruits, spice and pretty florals with violets headlining. The price belies the quality and the time aged in the cellar before release.

Score: 93/100 TO: 2023 Alc: 14.5%


Meerea Park Hunter Valley XYZ Shiraz 2015

XYZ? Why they are the new generation wine drinkers and Garth Eather, the man behind Meerea Park has produced a style he says is a modern interpretation of the grape for a new audience. The grapes were fermented in a 3500 litre foudre barrel and matured in 500 litre puncheons, the result is a silky richness and texture. Black fruits, earth and an immediate savouriness light up the bouquet. The wine opens with dark fruit, licorice, spice and a gamey, leather edge.

Score: 87/100 TO: 2022 Alc: %


Penny’s Hill Estate Single Vineyard The Experiment Grenache 2015

For the second year running, Penny’s Hill has won Best of Show (Australian Red) at the international Mundus Vini Grand International Wine Awards in Germany, highlighting the outstanding red winemaking talents of winemaker, Alexia Roberts. Here, she puts her hand to grenache. The “experiment” refers to a re-training of century-old grenache vines to a new trellising system. Her winning ways with the grape involve highlighting floral, spice and medium body rather than brute power and alcohol. It’s a welcome change.

Score: 94/100 TO: 2025 Alc: 14.5%


Pipan Steel Nebbiolo 2013

Pipan Steel is a relatively new name in wine obsessed with nebbiolo, the grape behind Italian Barolo and Barbaresco. It’s the only grape grown and produced on the property in the Alpine Valleys and there’s clearly a great depth of understanding about style. Potpourri, violets, roses rise from the glass, while the palate is deceptively complex and dark. It builds and builds in the mouth with loads of cherry, truffle earthiness. A very fine wine from a passionate, new maker. Decant before enjoying.

Score: 95/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 13.8%


Giant Steps Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2016

Love the aroma on this wine, it immediately signals pinot noir: exuberant sweet, ripe cherry fruit in abundance. A blend of Yarra Valley fruit it shows its provenance with a lusciousness that the Valley delivers in spades in warm years like 2016. It’s nicely concentrated, tannins are supple, oak is in the background but there is no great persistence or aftertaste. It’s well made and smart and should be enjoyed sooner rather than later. Or, that’s what I’m planning.

Score: 92/100 TO: 2023 Alc: 13.5%


M.ChapoutierTournon Pyrenees Sangiovese 2016

Rhone Valley winemaker, Michael Chapoutier, has long had a foot in Victorian soil. Headquartered in Heathcote, a favourite source of fruit over the years has been at Shays Flat Vineyard in the Western Pyrenees. The 2016 sangiovese is full of personality, bold and forward. Vibrant berry-fruit aroma on the nose opens on the palate with gentle force: red licorice, spice, raspberry-chocolate, sour cherry and a touch of savouriness. Finishes tight and in balance.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 13.5%


Oliver’s Taranga McLaren Vale Tempranillo 2015

Australian tempranillo is still finding its way. Some are too dry red-like, some are too alcoholic, some way too astringent and mean. Oliver’s Taranga chooses to highlight the gape’s generous fruit while maintaining some of the style’s firm structure. This is an enjoyable wine with chocolate and tempranillo’s trademark dark cherries, plums and spice leading to a generous palate. It’s a big wine, it fills the mouth and stays there.

Score: 90/100 TO: 2024 Alc: 14.5%