Ray Jordan’s Top 100 red wines under $40
The results of the West Australian’s annual Top 100 Red Wine tasting for wines selling for less than $40 has once again confirmed that the quality and value for money being offered is remarkable.
This year’s tasting was the biggest yet with nearly 650 wines entered from wineries across Australia. IT as a challenging exercise to cull back to the best 100 and obviously, a lot of very good wines missed out. Some of these near-misses will featured in my regular wine columns in The West and the Sunday Times in the coming weeks.
In many ways, the results showed a return to our knitting, with the strongest varieties the traditional staples of the Australian wine Industry, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. These came from many different areas but once again it was the long-established home of reds, the Barossa, which featured strongly.
I was a little disappointed that there were not more wines from some of the relatively new varieties such as sangiovese, tempranillo and others. Yes, there were some but these are now well established varieties in Australia and I would have thought more wines made from them would have sneaked into the final selection.
Pinot noir was another I was hoping to see more of, and while the ones I did choose are very good, as a varietal class the pinots were the weakest,
To give some context to the tasting, 80 wines were in the under $15 category, 140 in the $15 to $20, 188 in the $20 to $25 and a staggering 240 in the $25 to $40. Of these few than 10 wines were sealed with cork, reflecting the commitment of the winemakers to screw cape closures as the logical way to go.
The method for tasting so many wines is simple. I initially run through them and make a first run cut to bring the short list back to a more manageable 140 to 150 wines from which the serious business of the tasting begins.
This is where more detailed analysis takes place to get the list back to the final Top 100. As always I allow a few extra at this stage in case wines have been incorrectly submitted or vintage changed as they run out of stock.
In the end the final 100 wines reflected the number of wines submitted in each category.
The wines are entered in one of the four categories based on their retail price. I asked that the prices were based on the normal landed unit cost plus tastes and with a mark-up of 35 per cent. This is less than the usual full mark-up prices in retail, but with so much discounting especially in these lower priced wines, it makes sense to use that is the final price is more realistic.
And as always I suggest that you shop around because the level of discounting will almost certainly see most of these wines selling for less than the price I have used.
And so, to the overall quality. In short there are wines in each price category that I would be more than happy to drink. And that includes the under $15 bracket which continues to offer wines that punch above their weight.
When you move up in price you do move up in quality and sophistication, which in some cases had me questioning whether they have been mistakenly entered. But to the best of me endeavors to check you will find these all selling for less than $40.
When it came to choosing the best wine of the tasting, this was pretty much a no contest. The new Woodlands Clementine 2015 which sells for about $39 is as good a wine that I have seen in all the years I have been compiling this annual Top 100.
In fact, not long after I finished the tasting I was on the phone to Woodlands Andrew Watson to check on the price. If it had been $50 more it would not have fazed me. The quality of the fruit, the vintage and the oak use is of an extraordinary level for a wine selling for less than $40. This is a wine that if you can part with a few extra dollars should be a mandatory but the next time you are in the local bottle shop.
I know the best wine of the tasting is the most important gong but historically the wine that attracts the most interest is what I consider the best value. This year I had a real dilemma, In the under $15 category the Houghton Classic Red 2014 was superb and clearly the best but then in the $15 to $20 category is the Deep Woods shiraz et al 2015, which continues to amaze me that it can be less than $20.
IT was clearly the better wine, but when I factored in the price, which for the Houghton may well see it selling for less than $10 I had to choose it as the best value wine. But I would certainly endorse the Deep Woods shiraz et al, which is a stunner for the price.