Top 100 White & Sparkling Wines

 

By Ray Jordan, Wine Editor – © Copyright to Ray Jordan

Whether you only want to spend around $10 or bottle or can fork out $30 or $40 the good news is that there is plenty of superb white and sparkling wines to choose from this summer. The real value is to be found in the sub $20 categories but with the level of discounting at the moment you can also find great value at the higher price points.

To help you choose you best drinking for Christmas, New Year and the summer ahead, we have this year combined the white and sparkling wines into the one special edition.

After tasting through nearly 500 wines I have chosen a Top 100. I have selected 70 white wines all selling for $40 or less while the 30 Australian sparkling wines are across all price points, which means they offer the very best of the best in Aussie fizz. For simplicity I have broken the sparkling wine section down into $20 and under and over $20. (For the best in French champagne, check out the West’s Saturday Magazine this coming weekend).

An interesting feature in this year’s tasting was the high number of pinot grigios and a few pinot gris submitted. This is in keeping with the strong growth in this variety and style in recent years in Australia. To be honest they are not wines that I have particularly liked in the past but with an open mind I tackled them in the tasting and found some surprisingly good wines.

One of the biggest problems with the variety that can turned into the fine and lean pinot grigio style, most famous in Italy, or the bigger and fatter pinot gris style of France. The range of winemaking interpretations has made it pretty difficult for consumers to know what they are getting.

Fortunately there is a consistency now and also a better handling of the variety. The wines that came up well in this year’s tasting are all excellent drinking. In the main they are all of the pinot grigio style which is ideally suited for those afternoon tipples when you just want to sip on a chilled glass of wine at the end of the day.

It was also very pleasing to see the high number of outstanding Rieslings coming through in all price categories. This is a variety that once dominated our drinking in this country, yet for more years than I care to remember it has been largely out of favour.

There has been more talk of the second coming of riesling than probably even of that slightly more famous guys who is about 2000 years overdue.

Unlike pinot grigio, which can sprout up almost anywhere into a halfway decent wine, Riesling does require specific environments to show its best. The wines are South Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys together with those from WA’s Great Southern are quite superb.

Once again that standard of the chardonnays was exceptional. In fact deciding which to leave out was a real challenge.

Australian winemakers have really come to grips with this variety over the past 10 years and now make wines that combine power and elegance with none of those big butter fat overly oak characters that resulted in this great variety losing its way and losing favour with wine drinkers.

Well, chardonnay is well and truly back. Some of the wines are the top end of the tasting in the higher price categories were exceptional and could easily sell for a lot more.

The sparkling wines were very strong in all price points. I expected the higher priced wines to be very good and they were.

But I was amazed at the standard in the sub $20 category with some wines which sell for less than $10 offering very attractive drinking, especially if you are looking at entertaining a big number of people over Christmas and New Year and want to save a few dollars.

Because the white and sparkling wines have been combined into one feature, the pricing is a little different for both.

In the whites I have stuck with the four price ranges – Under $15, $15 to $20, $20 to $25 and $25 to $40. IN the sparkling wines I have just the two – Under $20 and $20 and over, with no upper limit.

The pricing listed is based on all standard taxes with a standard mark-up. Now this might mean that the price you see in the bottle shop is different – either high or lower. IT is the nature of today’s discounting that the prices will vary from store to store and chain to chain. All I can say is that it makes sense to shop around and look for the best deals.

And remember to check out the discounts of buying by the case or half case, as this is a great way to get real value into your summer wine drinking.

 

Best White Wine

Xanadu chardonnay 2014 ($35) – 95 points

Glenn Goodall has been making some of the finest Australian chardonnays for a few years now so it is no surprise that this wonderful wine should come up trumps. Not only that when you consider the price it is also great value. A really pure expression of chardonnay with no malolactic fermentation. It has had some lees stirring to generate complexity and richness and for what is a lightly framed wine it carries plenty. It’s creamy with a balancing savoury character and a precise fine acid taking it to a very long finish. 95/100

 

Best White Wine Runner-Up

Flametree SRS sauvignon blanc 2014 ($33) – 95 points

Outstanding example of taking sauvignon blanc to another plain of complexity and interest with some additional work in the winery. It’s a classy sauvignon blanc. It comes from the Karridale subregion south of Margaret River. Some French oak fermentation brings a high degree of complexity to the refined and pure fruit. The screws have been tightened to introduce a string savoury character which carries through to the long finish. 95/100

 

Best Value White Wine

Houghton Crofters chardonnay 2013 ($19.15) – 93 points

This is a wine that could easily sell for more than $30 such is its quality. IT’S drinking superbly now and you will probably find it on discount. The combination of quality fruit really shows in this bracket. Yes, it’s not super cheap but when you consider how good it is you just can’t go past it. A combination of the power of Margaret River and the fine finesse of Pemberton. It is an excellent chardie that fits the bill for those wanting a little more of that creamy subtle oak treatment in their wines. The oak treatment is well managed and the fruit sustains its intensity through to a long finish. Ideal in the short term. Drinking at its peak right now. 93/100

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Best Value White Wine Runner-Up

Jacob’s Creek Classic Riesling 2015 ($10.65) – 92 points

An amazingly good wine at this price. Especially as it will certainly be a lot cheaper. Keep it a few years and see it develop. 92/100

 

Best Sparkling Wine

Arras Grand Vintage 2006 ($70) – 96 points

No surprise that the House of Arras should dominate the sparkling wine tasting and come up with the best wine overall. This is pure deluxe showing just how good Australian sparkling wine can be. Little wonder too. It gets 8 years on tirage – lees – before it’s released. The result is a wine of supreme complexity and depth with a withering finish driving very long in the mouth. 96/100

 

Best Sparkling Wine Runner-Up

Yarrabank Cuvee ($36.30) – 95 points

This is the result of a partnership between Yering Station in the Yarra and the French champagne House Devaux. The wine gets four years on lees and the result is clearly evident in the bottle. A superb wine of classic style.  95/100.

 

Best Value Sparkling Wine

Jacob’s Creek Trilogy Cuvee Brut ($17) – 91 points

I reckon I haven’t tasted a better bubbles under this label. It’s always a favourite. It’s well made from pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meaner. Has some time on lees to bring about further complexity through autolysis. 91/100

 

Best Value Sparkling Wine Runner-Up

De Bortoli Sacred Hill Brut Cuvee ($6.85) – 89 points

Okay we’re not into complex nuances here. We’re into great value with a clean and crisp sparkling wine that would not be out of place at a higher price. 89/100

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White Wines – Under $15

Intro

The standard of wines in the under $15 category was very good. All wines chosen here show exceptional fruit for this price. You don’t get a lot of complexity but you do get good clean and quite flavorsome wines ideal for current drinking.

If you are keen to try some short term cellaring them try the Jacob’s Creek riesling and the Houghton White Classic. Both would be good for five years.

 

Chardonnay

Seppelt The Victorians chardonnay 2014 ($15) – 90 points

Once I got over the name, especially in the wake of the AFL grand final I had to accept that this is a pretty good wine, especially for the price. Itis one of the more sophisticated you will find in this price bracket. Worth holding on to for the next year. 90/100

Deakin Estate chardonnay 2015 ($10) – 87 points

A light bodied and well-balanced chardie exhibiting some nice creamy stone fruit characters. It shows restraint and a neat edge of citrus tang to keep it focused. Delicate fine acid carries the palate to a pleasing finish. 87/100

Blends

Houghton White Classic 2015 ($14.30) – 92 points

As West Australian as a fly in November. Lively fruit based on a Swan Valley staple of chenin blanc with a few other bits and pieces. It’s full of controlled tropical flavours with a crunchy mineral citrus lifted finish. Has slightly more creaminess than some previous vintages but still with the acid to sustain further cellaring. Keep some for a few years. 92/100

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Deep Woods Ivory Semillon sauvignon blanc 2015 ($14.95) – 90 points

Consistently super value for money blend displaying loads of pleasing tropical fruit and an extravagant herbaceousness for balance. There’s a squeeze of lemon to add some zip and it all comes together beautifully as a precise current drink. 90/100

 

Heathridge Gold Range sauvignon blanc Semillon 2014 ($11.50) – 90 points

A most appealing blended white showing that sometimes it better to wait a year to get the best out of the blend. Crunchy and vibrant bled with a load of passionfruit over the other tropical characters and splashed with a citrus tang. 90/100

Wonderwall sauvignon blanc Semillon 2015 ($10.40) – 89 points

A punchy young blended white offering plenty of enjoyment from the first sniff through to the longish palate finish. It’s from Margaret River and has a typical mix of tropical fruit and light herbaceousness. Balanced with good flavour intensity. 89/100

Riesling

Jacob’s Creek Classic Riesling 2015 ($10.65) – 92 points

Consistently one of the best – if not the best – value for money Riesling released. This one gets it perfectly right yet again. Fragrant with a huge hit of lemon zest on the nose. The palate delivers a fine crisp fruit intensity that carries powerfully to a long finish. Keep it a few years and see it develop. 92/100

 

Sauvignon blanc

De Bortoli Deen Vat Series No 2 sauvignon blanc 2015 ($13.20) – 91 points

A surprisingly good savvy – mind you we should never be surprised at the quality of De Bortoli wines. Pungent gooseberry and citrus notes on the nose and a punchy palate of some intensity. Quite textural with a lick of acid and citrus to finish. Nice stuff. 91/100

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Pinot grigio

Azahara pinot grigio 2014 ($15) – 89 points

Hard to go past this excellent value for money pinot grigio. Takes some of the more expensive examples of this variety apart. Crisp and fine with a savoury citrus and slightly spicy character. Loads of spicy pear and a splash of tart ginger. Neat little wine. 89/100

De Bortoli La Bossa pinot grigio 2015 ($9.85) – 88 points

A lightly floral and spicy pinot grigio. Has a zippy palate with a lifted lively freshness. It’s one of those wines you can happily sip on with not a care in the world. 88/100

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Lindeman’s Bin 85 pinot grigio 2015 ($10) – 87 points

Crisp clean and precise. This captures that classic pinot grigio style. Everything is understated yet there is enough flavor to make for and appealing current drinking aperitif. 87/100

 

 

White Wines – $15 to $20

 

Intro

The highlight of this price range was the number of alternative varieties. The quality of the pinot grigios was very good and then there is the fiano which is another variety that should start to find some traction in Australian wineries.

The number of quality blends was also very good with most opting for the clean unoaked styles but some lees and light oak treatment has helped.

The chardonnays offered great value here

 

Chardonnay

 

Houghton Crofters chardonnay 2013 ($19.15) – 93 points

A combination of the power of Margaret River and the fine finesse of Pemberton. It is an excellent chardie that fits the bill for those wanting a little more of that creamy subtle oak treatment in their wines. The oak treatment is well managed and the fruit sustains its intensity through to a long finish. Ideal in the short term. Drinking at its peak right now. 93/100

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Jacob’s Creek Reserve chardonnay 2014 ($17.15) – 91 points

Chardonnay has been one of the big improvers within the Jacob’s Creek range and this Adelaide Hills sourced wine is a classic example. Deep peach and toasty oak characters work together perfectly to deliver a punchy textural palate with a sustained length. In the modern style. 91/100

Rosemount Seven Trick Pony chardonnay 2014 ($19) – 88 points

Nothing tricky about this honest value chardonnay from McLaren Vale. In case you’re wondering the seven trick deal refers to the seven sub-regions of McLaren Vale. Balanced with flavoursome creamy fruit and a touch of toasty oak. Neat wine. 88/100

Ferngrove Frankland River chardonnay 2014 ($19.15) – 91 points

A multi-layered chardonnay from Frankland. One of the best balanced and most complete of these wines. Plenty of roasted nuts, creamy stone fruit and a slash of lemon juiciness. The plate is deep and textural with an impressive long finish. 91/100

 

Pinot grigio

Fowles Wine Are You Game? pinot grigio 2015 ($18.35) – 92 points

This is largely pinot grigio but there is a small addition of arneis. Really attractive and intense palate with the normal per and apple characters augmented with a splash of arneis citrus. All stacks up as a terrific current drinking wine. 92/100

 

Devil’s Corner pinot grigio 2015 ($17) – 92 points

One of the most fragrant and engaging of the pinot grigios tasted. This is just so beautifully perfumed with a mix of spices and subtle stone fruit. There’s a little pear and a little apple and loads of flavor held tightly through to its finish. 92/100

 

Cape Schanck T’Gallant pinot grigio 2015 ($19.30) – 91 points

From the Mornington Peninsula, an area ideally suited to this variety. This is loaded with all those spices and pear characters you look for in this variety. Slightly textural but with a bracingly fresh palate extending to a pleasingly long finish. 91/100

 

Other varieties

Serafino Bellisimo fiano 2014 ($19.95) – 90 points

Fiano, a native variety of southern Italy and Sicily, is a relatively new variety to Australia and the early indications are that it will do very well. This is beautifully made with abundant fruit flavours and a light dusting of herbaceousness and citrus. Clean crisp acid and a long finish. 90/100

 

Blends

Tyrrell’s Part & Parcel 2015 ($19.50) – 92 points

This is a new special release from Tyrrell’s. It’s mostly Semillon with some chardonnay, gewürztraminer and verdelho making up the rest of the blend. A small amount of solids fermentation has added to the texture. Aromatic lift on the nose a tremendously appealing flavorsome though still controlled and tight palate. 92/100

 

Faber Vineyard The Scarp 2014 ($19.95) – 92 points

John Griffiths has sourced the local Verdelho, Semillon and chenin blanc for this excellent blend from the Darling Scarp. Such a beautifully textural and rich wine with a degree of precision that adds to its lively palate lift. Super wine and one of the finds of the tasting. Lovely wine. 92/100

 

Houghton Crofters sauvignon blanc semillon 2014 ($19.15) – 92 points

This has been sourced from Pemberton and Margaret River. The lifted aromatics and delicacy of Pemberton bring a different dimension to the more powerful Margaret River component. Beautifully fragrant and well-presented blend with a tight crisp and very long palate a feature. Like the zesty finish. 92/100

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Hay Shed Hill sauvignon blanc Semillon 2015 ($19.95) – 91 points

This is your classic clean and crisp white blend from Margaret River. Michael Kerrigan has kept this simple here to retain those fresh and vibrant tropical fruit and lightly herbaceous fruit characters. Works for me. 91/100

 

Vasse Felix Classic Dry White 2015 ($19) – 91 points

A classically classic blend of Semillon and sauvignon blanc. Absolutely nails the fresh lively style for this blend with abundant fruit intensity held with a fine persistent acidity. Great length and purity on the palate with an enticing squeeze of lemon to finish. 91/100

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Higher Plane Semillon sauvignon blanc 2015 ($20) – 90 points

Comes from vineyards to the south of Margaret River town. This is a finer and quite delicate style but with a creamy middle palate texture. Fine acid and citrus tang complete the finish. Lovely wine. 90/100

 

Juniper Crossing semillon sauvignon blanc 2015 ($19) – 90 points

A most approachable SSB blend. Lively citrus and tropical fruits on the nose with a bouncy vibrant palate. Crunchy with distinctive purity and freshness makes for such good current drinking. 90/100

 

Riesling

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Riesling 2013 ($17.15) – 93 points

A classic mix of floral citrusy Riesling with a tight steely minerally thread. This is from the Barossa which n good seasons makes outstanding Riesling. This was a very good season, so the rest as they say, is history. A beautiful wine and worth eight or more years in the cellar. 93/100

 

Leo Buring Clare Valley Riesling 2015 ($19.90) – 93 points

One of the most famous names in Australian Riesling. This is bone dry with such pure precise fruit characters. It’s from Clare so you know its pedigree can’t be questioned. Zingy and intense with a capacity to age for up to 10 years. 93/100

 

Hanging Rock Tarzali Riesling 2015 ($19.95) – 92 points

Comes from excellent Riesling country in Victoria’s Strathbogie Ranges. It’s spicy and minerally with a decent lick of lime on the nose and lip-smacking palate. Crisp and pure with a slaty wet pebble character. 92/100

 

Sauvignon blanc

Tamar Ridge sauvignon blanc 2015 ($17) – 93 points

A minerally and deeply intense savvy from Tasmania that bridges the mainland Aussie style with that of Marlborough in New Zealand. Yes, that’s generalizing but you get my drift. Pungent gooseberry and tropical intensity with a crunchy vibrancy on the mid palate. Lovely current drinking. 93/100

 

Millbrook sauvignon blanc 2015 ($20.75) – 91 points

No mistaking this is sauvignon blanc. You get all those distinctive characters of gooseberry and passionfruit plus a decent hit of lime from the first sniff. Into the palate the flavours release with plenty of intensity supported by a crisp zippy acidity. Ideal in the short term. 91/100

 

White Wines $20 to $25

 

Intro

This was a very strong price category and so it should be.

Winemakers generally have access to some very good fruit and can fiddle around with it just a little in the winery to build further complexity and structure into wines like the chardonnays.

The blended whites and the Rieslings were very good here.

The good thing is that many of these wines will probably be discounted to less than $20, making them phenomenal value so you should check out what you want and shop around.

 

Chardonnay

Mantra chardonnay 2014 ($25) – 94 points

This excellent chardonnay comes from a single site in Wilyabrup. IT gets a bit of wild fermentation for added complexity and a distinct mouth feel appeal. There’s a compelling mix of mineral and savoury influences with a creamy richness. Deep and layered palate with a very long finish. 94/100

 

Howard Park Flint Rock chardonnay 2014 ($24.80) – 93 points

This is developing into one of the best places for chardonnay. Comes from low yielding vines near Mount Barker. A little extended lees work has introduced complexity and texture to the keenly focused fruit. Intense and long in the mouth. Classy expression of chardonnay. 93/100

 

Devil’s Lair Dance with the Devil chardonnay 2014 ($25) – 92 points

Part of an impressive range of chardonnays from Devil’s Lair. Savoury and lightly nutty on the nose with a creamy textural influence on the palate. A complete and complex wine at this price point. A classy wine. 92/100

 

Robert Oatley Margaret River chardonnay 2014 ($22.35) – 92 points

A medium to light bodied style of chardonnay from Margaret River. Has a beautiful texture with a creamy nutty savouriness adding to its complexity. Crafted as a drink now style with the potential to benefit from short term cellaring. 92/100

 

Rob Dolan True Colours chardonnay 2014 ($) – 92 points

One of Australia’s most experienced winemakers produces an excellent range of wines from his own label based on Yarra Valley fruit. This is a savory and very powerfully structure with a deep lingering intensity. Great oak and fruit integration with a smoky character. 92/100

 

Woodlands chardonnay 2014 ($23.50) – 91 points

A keenly acute and precise young chardonnay displaying pristine fruit. Citrus and grapefruit with a touch of minerality. The palate has good texture but retains a lively fresh racy feel through to its long finish. Nice wine for drinking over the next couple of years. 91/100

 

Blends

Evoi sauvignon blanc semillon 2015 ($22.05) – 95 points

Gosh this is a good young SBS. It’s largely tank fermented but a small amount goes into oak for further fermentation. Beautiful aromas of gooseberry and passionfruit with the faintest hint of grassiness. The palate is really intense with a sweet lemony fruit intensity. Just stunning. 95/100

 

Grace Farm sauvignon blanc semillon 2014 ($21) – 95 points

Thoroughly gorgeous example of this blend. Comes from a meticulously managed vineyard and the result is clearly evident in the bottle. Bright and bouncy lively fruit intensity screams “drink me’. Lovely tropical grassy herbaceous blend that extended to a very long precise finish. 95/100 – Cellar: 3 years

 

Domaine Naturaliste Discovery sauvignon blanc Semillon 2015 (22.85) – 94 points

Not hard to see why this won a trophy and the highly competitive Melbourne Wine Show. So intense and deeply powerful for this blend with tremendous fruit weight expressing both vineyard and varieties. Complete in every way. 94/100

 

Vasse Felix Semillon sauvignon blanc 2015 ($24) – 93 points

This is a significantly more sophisticated blend than the Classic White. Deep texture with a subtle influence of oak adding to the complexity. Yet it retains its essential fruit characters with a slightly savoury nuance. A complete wine in every way and worth leaving for some cellaring. 93/100

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Voyager Estate sauvignon blanc Semillon 2015 ($24) – 92 points

There is always a refreshing bracing purity about Voyager’s blended whites This is right in there with its subtle expression of these two classic varieties. Slightly savoury with an edge of herbaceousness and subtle tropical fruit. 92/100

 

Cape Mentelle sauvignon blanc Semillon 2015 ($24.65) – 92 points

Such an intense and vibrant blended white. You hear a lot about Cape Mentelle’s reds but they make mighty good whites and this cracking good wine is the perfect example. Precise. Fresh and punchy through to the long finish. 92/100

 

Sauvignon blanc

Katnook sauvignon blanc 2015 ($25) – 93 points

Katnook is best known for its outstanding reds from Coonawarra yet consistently it makes some tremendously good sauvignon blancs with a surprising capacity to age. This is one of those. Tight and bracing but with subtle savory tropical fruit on a controlled focused plate. Keep for 10 years. 93/100

 

Deep Woods sauvignon blanc 2015 ($19.95) – 92 points

Impressive style of savvy from Margaret River. Right now it’s might tight as a result of partial barrel fermentation but you will see it open up in the next 12 months to reveal a first rate sauvignon blanc offering a lot more than the normal fare. 92/100

 

Ashbrook Estate sauvignon blanc 2015 ($24) – 91 points

This is a lovely light and bright young savvy ideal for current drinking. Loads of gooseberry and tropical citrus with distinct herbaceousness. Delicious sweet fruit held with a concise precision. Drink it over the summer. 91/100

 

3 Drops sauvignon blanc 2015 ($21.85) – 90 points

A bracingly tight and crisp savvy from the Great Southern. I like its light herbaceousness and subtle citrusy melon palate complexity. Nice palate weight and texture. Will benefit from a couple of years. 90/100

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Riesling

Castle Rock Estate Porongurup riesling 2015 ($25) – 94 points

Opens on the nose with an incredible wave of lime fruit characters. The palate is intensely fruit driven with a soft delicate acid in support. It’s slightly spicy with a lip smacking crispness that sustains a long finish. Never misses. Bone dry finish. 94/100

 

Annie’s Lane riesling 2015 ($20.90) – 93 points

Wonderful riesling from South Australia’s Clare Valley. Spicy minerally characters with a decent floral and citrus lift on the nose. The palate has a surprisingly deep and rich texture yet it retains those essential tight lines through to the very long finish. That lemon and lime zest hits home on the finish. 93/100

 

Castelli Riesling 2015 ($22.72) – 93 points

Loaded with that distinctive Great Southern spice overlaying traditional lime zest characters of this variety. This I a marvelous example of the variety with such fine linear structure and so much intensity. This should get you drinking Riesling. 93/100

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Richmond Grove Limited Release Watervale Riesling 2015 ($) – 91 points

Typical lemony citrus aromas with a minerally pebbly thread. Deep and intense with a fine delicate acidity sustaining the finish. Worth a few in the cellar for at least five years. 91/100

 

Other varieties

Wills Domain Block 2 semillon 2013 ($25) – 91 points

Beautiful example of Semillon, a variety that is so well suited to Margaret River yet seldom sees the sunlight as a straight varietal. Lemony citrus aromas with strong honeysuckle characters. The palate is deep and intense with a lingering racy finish. Fine delicate acid keeps it on track. 91/100 – Cellar: 5 years

 

Yelland & Papps pinot blanc pinot grigio 2015 (21.55) – 92 points

A really interesting blend of these two varieties from the Barossa Valley. These guys are making some mighty interesting wines and this is another example of where they are going. Has a spicy thread with other richer characters of tart pineapple, a little stone fruit and a slice or two of banana. 92/100

 

White Wines $25 to $40

 Intro

There are some amazing wines in this price range, especially the chardonnays and the Rieslings. IT is so good to see these varieties being handled so well.

The chardonnays are in that modern tight and controlled zone and provide exceptional value for this quality.

A feature was the standard of a couple of the sauvignon blancs, showing both an oaked and unoaked style and providing a point of difference with our friends – until the World Cup – across the ditch.

The good thing here is that while all of these wines are excellent current drinking many will happily benefit from a few years in the cellar – especially the Rieslings.

 

Chardonnay

Xanadu chardonnay 2014 ($35) – 95 points

A really pure expression of chardonnay with winemaker Glenn Goodall not using malolactic fermentation It has had some lees stirring to generate complexity and richness and for what is a lightly framed wine it carries plenty. It’s creamy with a balancing savoury character and a precise fine acid taking it to a very long finish. 95/100

 

Hardys HRB chardonnay 2014 ($31.45) – 95 points

This is a blend of fruit sourced from Pemberton, Margaret River and the Adelaide Hills. There is so much happening in here thanks to the different characters each region brings to the mix. Melon with a touch of lemon rind edginess. Lovely fine and refined palate structure with a sublime mouth feel. Beautiful wine. 95/100

 

Vasse Felix chardonnay 2014 ($37) – 95 points

This is one of those wines that just seems right from whichever way you tackle it. The bouquet is interesting, appealing and immediately complex with its subtle white peach and grapefruit nuances plus a little roasted cashew. The palate has such a vibrancy with its lively acid and crisp fruit characters. The delicate minerally acid focused the finish which is long and precise. 95/100

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Castelli Pemberton chardonnay 2014 ($28) – 94 points

Classy chardonnay with fruit sourced from Pemberton. Aromas of light struck match with penetrating grapefruit and mealiness. The palate strikes a nice mix of savouriness and citrus cashew characters. The oak and fruit balance is very good. This already has a high degree of complexity and it will only get better. 94/100

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De Bortoli Estate Grown chardonnay 2014 ($26.80) – 94 points

Good season in the Yarra Valley had produced the basis for this delightfully elegant and delicate Riesling. IT’s been deftly crafted with a light savoury smoky character permeating through the creamy focused palate. A win that is all about subtlety. Love it as an alternative style. 94/100

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Leeuwin Estate Prelude chardonnay 2014 ($34) – 93 points

One of the best Prelude chardonnays. Impressive mix of nougat and nectarine with a cutting edge of grapefruit and lemon zest. The palate is brilliantly integrated to focus it precisely to a very long finish. Such a bright and lively palate with beautiful fruit intensity. Excellent. 93/100

 

Snake + Herring Corduroy chardonnay 2013 ($35) – 93 points

Comes from the southern Margaret River area of Karridale. Impressive chardonnay combining elegance and restraint with essential Margaret River lower Creamy vanilla pod, cereal a grapefruit aromas with a trace of butterscotch. The palate displays wonderful control and focus through to the finish. Keen minerally edge on the finish. 93/100

 

Coldstream Hills chardonnay 2014 ($36) – 93 points

Beautifully refined and expertly crafted chardonnay from the Yarra Valley. Savoury and lightly nutty with a roasted cashew character adding s subtle degree of complexity to the palate. Complete and perfectly integrated palate. Excellent stuff. 93/100

 

Iron Cloud Rock of Solitude chardonnay ($28) – 92 points

This is a new one from Warwick Lavis’s Pepperilly in the Ferguson Valley ad marks a distinct and significant step up in quality. A fine and delicate expression of chardonnay with a savoury citruss tang cutting through the gentle stone fruit and light cereal flavoured fruit. 92/100

 

Riesling

Forest Hill Block 1 riesling 2013 ($38) – 95 points

This is such a lovely Riesling from the original vines planted in 1965. Spicy and aromatic with a lovely precise fruit intensity. A little citrus edge with a powdery bath salts and lemon zest influence. Super wine with great ageing potential. 95/100

 

Grosset Alea Riesling 2015 ($33.85) – 95 points

Comes from the Alea vineyards of Jeff Grosset. Typically beautiful expression of this variety with a spicy minerality and light citrus combination. Fine and delicate palate but one of real persistence and intensity. 95/100

 

Steingarten Riesling 2013 ($29.95) – 94 points

Although the name comes from the original stony vineyard in the Eden Valley, the fruit these days is sourced from further afield. This is a more delicate Riesling than some under this label but still with the structure and fruit intensity to support extended ageing. One of the great names in Aussie Riesling. 94/100

 

Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling 2015 ($31.60) – 94 points

Beautifully delicate riesling with a lifted aromatic. Lime and lemon notes on the nose with a light citrus character on the palate. Such a perfectly balanced and precise Riesling with a beautiful texture and mouth feel. 94/100

 

Blends

Pierro LTC 2015 ($32) – 95 points

Tasted soon after bottling and yet it was tasting absolutely superb. It’s semillon and sauvignon blanc with a “light touch of chardonnay” – hence the LTC. Now here’s the thing. It drinks beautifully when young with that vibrant fruit but it ages easily for 10 years. This is superb. 95/100

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Juniper Estate Aquitaine sauvignon blanc semillon 2013 ($32) – 94 points

A blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon with the whole bunches pressed into oak for fermentation and further maturation. The result is a wine that has excellent depth and fruit concentration with the tropical fruit and citrusy lift of the grapes with the nutty lemon influence of the oak. There’s a nice waxy feel to it as well. A wine for the cellar. 94/100

 

Hay Shed Hill Block 1 semillon sauvignon blanc 2015 ($28.75) – 94 points

This outstanding SSB comes off some pretty old vines in the heart of Margaret River. A small amount of oak has been introduced and it brings complexity and texture into the equation. It’s perfumed with quite delicate characters. Lovely wine with some cellaring potential. 94/100

 

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale sauvignon blanc semillon 2014 ($32) – 93 points

Opens with a lovely lemony essence aroma working with a little nutty vanillin character. The palate is deep and rich with stacks of persistent lively fruit intensity. Carries to a precise long finish. A wine that is good drinking now but will keep for a number of years. 93/100

 

Sauvignon blanc

Flametree SRS sauvignon blanc 2014 ($33) – 95 points

Now, this is a classy sauvignon blanc. It comes from the Karridale subregion south of Margaret River. Some French oak fermentation brings a high degree of complexity to the refined and pure fruit. The screws have been tightened to introduce a string savoury character which carries through to the long finish. 95/100

 

Shaw & Smith sauvignon blanc 2015 ($30) – 95 points

If there is such a thing as the quintessential sauvignon blanc in Australia than this has to be it. This was such a perfect year in the Adelaide Hills and the result is this sublimely easy drinking savvy with plenty of everything and everything in just the right amount. Passionfruit is the dominant fruit character and the rest just rolls off the tongue with such ease. If you don’t like this then you are impossible to please. As good as any yet released. 95/100

 

Domaine A Stoney Vineyard sauvignon blanc 2013 ($30.32) – 93 points

The only wine submitted sealed under cork. It’s a superb wine from Tasmania. Savoury and slightly smoky characters on the nose and a palate that is loaded with such gorgeous flavours. There is power here and there is finesse. A different take on sauvignon blanc and one to be applauded. 93/100

 

Sparkling Wines Under $20

 

Intro

It continues to amaze me that there are so many highly drinkable sparkling wines selling for less than $20. This is just a snap shot of the best of them but from this sample you can take it from me that if your budget won’t permit buying expensive bubbles, you will find plenty to like in this price range.

Each of these wines has a purity and freshness about it and a couple, such as the Trilogy, a degree of complexity that you expect in the higher price wines.

And check out the Sacred Hill if you’re after a ridiculously priced wine. Perfect buying by the case for Chrissie nd New Year.

 

Jacob’s Creek Trilogy Cuvee Brut ($17) – 91 points

I reckon I haven’t tasted a better bubbles under this label. It’s always a favourite. It’s well made from pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meaner. Has some time on lees to bring about further complexity through autolysis. 91/100

 

Yarra Burn Premium Cuvee Brut ($17) – 91 points

IT’s a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay and shows some nice nutty creamy characters on the palate with a little dab of citrusy tang. 91/100

 

Devil’s Corner chardonnay pinot noir NV Sparkling Cuvee ($20) – 90 points

This is such a beautiful sparkling wine for this price. Fresh and crisp with a lively citrus and apple character. Precise and chock full of linear flavours. 90/100

 

Azahara Sparkling chardonnay pinot noir ($12) – 90 points

A remarkably complex and appealing wine for this price. Always shows well with a distinctive spicy minerally thread. Puts a few higher priced wines to shame. 90/10

 

Crittenden Estate Geppetto NV Brut ($18.35) – 90 points

This is a pretty smart sparkling wine in this price category. Complex tight mealy characters with a little fresh toasty roasted character and some nice fresh clean citrus tanginess. 90/100

 

Fowles Are You Game? Chardonnay pinot noir NV ($18.35) – 90 points

The chardonnay and pinot noir is traditional sparkling wine stuff but the addition of the Italian vermentino really adds something different. Brings a spicy fresh fruitiness into the equation and it works wonderfully well. 90/100

 

Yellowglen pinot noir chardonnay 2013 ($20) – 90 points

There is a number of excellent wines in the Yellowglen range and this vintage wine is a reminder of how well they’re made. Well integrated and smoothly complex palate with a rich biscuit character on the finish. 90/100

 

De Bortoli Sacred Hill Brut Cuvee ($6.85) – 89 points

Okay we’re not into complex nuances here. We’re into great value with a clean and crisp sparkling wine that would not be out of place at a higher price. 89/100

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Hardys Sir James Brut de Brut ($10) – 89 points

Consistently a very good sparkling wine at this price. It’s pinot noir and chardonnay which has been well managed to bring plenty of lovely toasty dried fruit characters into the palate. A simple easy drinking sparkle at a great price. 89/100

 

Sparkling Wines Over $20

 

Intro

The quality of Australian sparkling wines is world class. Once you spend more than $20 on a bottle of Aussie fizz you start to see levels of complexity and palate style that you might easily expect in French Champagne.

IN fact I have no hesitation in saying that many of our sparkling wines are better than a lot of the French.

This is generally the domain of the big players and so it was no surprise that Arras from Accolade Wines, Domain Chandon from LVMH and Yellowglen and many others from Treasure Wine Estates should dominate.

There is a lot here to like.

Arras Grand Vintage 2006 ($70) – 96 points

Pure deluxe showing just how good Australian sparkling wine can be. Little wonder too. It gets 8 years on tirage – lees – before it’s released. The result is a wine of supreme complexity and depth with a withering finish driving very long in the mouth. 96/100

Yarrabank Cuvee ($36.30) – 95 points

This is the result of a partnership between Yering Station in the Yarra and the French champagne House Devaux. The wine gets four years on lees and the result is clearly evident in the bottle. A superb wine of classic style.  95/100.

Arras E. J. Carr Late Disgorged 2002 ($150) – 95 points

Stays on lees a long long time before disgorging. All this adds so much of that autolysis complexity while keeping it in a bit of a time warp. Layered and complex and takes Australian bubbles to another level of class and quality. 95/100

Hanging Rock Rose Brut NV ($35) – 94 points

This is a relatively new addition to the Hanging Rock range. It is very good. Such a complex rose style with the combination of savouriness and sweet strawberry fruit. There is power here delivered with a high degree of finesse and subtlety. Great food wine. 94/100

Arras Methode Traditionelle Rose 2005 ($80) – 94 points

Such a sophisticated and complex rose style sparkling wine. It gets six years on lees to build further complexity and subtlety. A trace of savoury cherry characters with a delicious splash of fruit sweetness to balance. 94/100

Chandon Vintage Brut 2011 ($41) – 94 points

Made from the three champagne varieties. Complex and sophisticated with a most complete palate a feature. This is one of the country’s best and biggest selling sparkling wines and it’s not hard to understand why. 94/100

 Bay of Fires Tasmanian Cuvee Brut ($30) – 94 points

So much happening in this outstanding sparkling wine. Has a creamy and lightly honeyed palate with a little edge of minerals and mushroom. Really interesting things happening in here to make for such beautiful drinking. 94/100

Howard Park Jete Grand Vintage 2009 ($40) – 94 points

This is a cracking good wine. Showing some serious autolysis yeast conversion characters especially on the deep and complete mid palate. Creamy with lots of citrus rind brioche and roasted cashew. Complex and powerful with tremendous length. 94/100

Brown Brothers Brut ($25) – 93 points

This is the non-vintage Brown Brothers sparkling wine made from chardonnay pinot noir and pinot meaner. Consistently such a marvelous example of the style with the cool climate fruit so expertly handled. Has a soft and supple creaminess in the middle palate. Very long and precise with that edge of lemony citrus characters. 93/100

Deviation Road Loftia Vintage Brut 2012 ($47) – 93 points

Jus gorgeous expression of Aussie sparkling wine. The dominant pinot noir brings those sweet strawberry characters to the wine while the chardonnay adds further toasty creaminess. Crisp and long through to the finish. 93/100

Seppelt Salinger Henty Cuvee Vintage 2011 ($30.35) – 93 points

Sourced from the very cool vintages of Henty in Victoria. Linear and steely with a crisp lemon rind and minerally thread running through the very long palate. Balanced and most stylish. 93/100

Pirie Non Vintage ($35) – 93 points

Wow this is drinking superbly. Has a toasty nutty rich honey character on the nose which flows effortlessly through into the lavish palate. Multi-layered and very complex. 93/100

Yellowglen Perle Vintage 2009 ($24.85) – 93 points

Very tidy vintage sparkling wine. IT’s made from the three champagne varieties and with four years on yeast lees has plenty happening. Nutty brioche and bready characters with a savory long palate structure. 93/100

Arras Brut Elite ($50) – 93 points

Sourced from excellent cool climate Tasmanian vineyards. Beautiful perfumed  aromas with a palate displaying lemony biscuit complexity and a long keen edgy finish. Lovely drinking. 93/100

Chandon Brut Methode Tradionelle ($32) – 92 points

This is the NV wine from Chandon made from pinot noir and chardonnay. Lovely textured palate with a rich creaminess, but with a precise citrus crisp apple lift. 92/100

 

Jansz Vintage Cuvee 2010 ($53.30) – 92 points

Really drinking so beautifully now with the extra bottle age. It’s made from pinot noir and chardonnay and reveals from the first sniff the virtues of cool climate Tasmanian fruit sourcing. So well balanced and with such a deep and penetrating palate profile. 92/100

 

Ninth Island NV Tasmania ($30) – 92 points

Quite a delicate bubbles from the three champagne varieties. Loaded with pear and brioche with a subtle creamy middle palate balanced with a citrus lemon rind on the finish. 92/100

Croser NV Rose ($25) – 92 points

Lovely rose style with those strawberry and roses characters bringing a beautiful perfume to the nose. The palate has a sweet fruit savouriness balancing act happening and the finish is very long. Cracking wine. 92/100

 

Peacock Lane By Samantha Wills Premium Cuvee ($22.75) – 92 points

Comes from the Yellowglen stable. IT has a degree of prettiness and subtle finesse which appeals to me. Lovely long palate which is balanced and so well integrated. 92/100

 

Sir James Vintage 2009 ($28) – 91 points

This is from the massive stable of sparkling wines from Accolade wines and it’s always one of the best and best value releases. This is a Pinot nori and chardonnay combination with terrific depth and layers plus that fine minerally line that carries the long finish. 91/100

 

De Bortoli Rococo Yarra Valley Premium NV Cuvee ($22.50) – 91 points

Another masterful wine in this price category from De Borts. The blending of vintages and extended time n lees all adds up to a wine of complexity and true sparkling wine style. The old oak used in the ferment sees to add a nice touch to the finished wine. 91/100

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© Copyright to Ray Jordan

RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017