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GenXY Recommended Wines From 2014 Reviews

Hello to 2015 and its time to sort through my wine notes and identify the best wines that I have tried over the last 12 months. After the challenging 2011 vintage it was pleasing to taste so many good reds from the excellent 2012 vintage in SE Australia. Both sides of the Tasman had warm vintages in 2013, reflected in slightly riper white and red styles. Local heat stress did lead to some non-releases but the good rains in recent years have helped mature vines avoid the drought year stresses of the previous decade (so far). WA also performed strongly in both vintages, particularly in Cabernet, Chardonnay and Semillon based styles.

I tried 2,025 Australian and New Zealand wines in this period (Dec 2013 - Dec 2014). I have ranked 132 wines as Gold Medal standard, with 812 recommendations (ie Gold, Silver or Bronze Medal standard)

This list is more inclusive of the whole industry than those from most national and regional wine shows as small producers are not entitled to enter these shows (apart from designated seperate small winemaker shows). Also many of the cult artisan producers do not submit their wines to wine shows (or send freebies to us wine writers) as their existing demand considerably outstrips supply. There are a few wines I have carried over from last year's list that I have re-tasted in 2014.

Now looking over the compiled lists I am satisfied that these reflect some of the very best wines from Australian and New Zealand small, medium and big producers, notwithstanding the usual caveat that there are always some outstanding omissions that I couldn't find or get hold of in 2014.

Graham Hastings, St.Kilda, Dec 2014 (that's me on the top right)

Most Recommended Dry/Off-Dry White Wines List 2014

Chardonnay (212 Tasted, 80 Recommendations, 20 Gold Medal Standard)

Chardonnay is grown in nearly every region in New Zealand and Australia. Chardonnay is making a modest come-back in sales as the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc dominance of Australian and New Zealand retails white wine sales hits a plateau. In 2014 Chardonnay accounted for 44% of total Australian white wine crush. Chardonnay is New Zealand’s second most widely grown white variety (static at around 8% of total wine production) but there is there is now ten times as much Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay’s come-back partly reflects the a welcome change in style at all price points away from heavily oaked/malolactic "toasted butter" Chardonnay of the 1990s to fresher, racier styles showing texture, minerality, clean vibrant acids and oak in a supporting rather than main act role. The adoption of screw caps has improved the freshness of the contemporary styles.

Out of the 212 Australasian Chardonnays I tried this year I have generally selected for wines that showed texture, minerality, penetrating flavours and acids, good line and drive and balanced oak. For my summer drinking I am particularly impressed with the focussed, minerally styles coming of Victoria (Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Macedon Ranges) and the generally more intensely flavoured and acidic style from Central Otago and Tasmania. For those who like a fuller, richer style the Australian benchmarks are the Margaret River or Adelaide Hills and for New Zealand look to Hawke’s Bay and Wellington. These are more the wines I pull out in winter.

At the premium end the trend to super-reductive styles with high sulphide expression that have dominated the wine show trophies in recent NZ and Victoria wine shows some signs of abating.  The 2012 and 2013 releases from trendsetters such as Yarra Valley’s Oakridge and Seville Estate have pulled back on the reduction and are showing much more balanced and purer wine

Most of the 132 Chardonnays that did not make the cut showed some of the following traits:  excessive or rawly integrated oak, broad and flabby structure, oxidative handling, obvious tartaric acid adjustments or lack of fruit length. At the premium price end there were more than a few wines have used every wine-making artifact possible but have ended up with wines that come across as stale and lacking drive.

Gold Medal Standard

Balgownie Estate Bendigo Chardonnay 2011 (Bendigo, Vic)

Bay of Fires Chardonnay 2013 (Northern Tas)

Bindi Quartz Chardonnay 2011 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Bird In Hand Nest Egg Chardonnay 2012 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Brookland Valley Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Derwent Estate Chardonnay 2013 (Southern Tas)

Devil’s Lair 9th Chamber Chardonnay 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Epis Chardonnay 2012 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Kooyong Estate Farrago Chardonnay 2011 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Marchand and Burch Porongurup Chardonnay 2011 (Great Southern, WA)

Oakridge 864 Funder and Diamond Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Oakridge 864 Willowlake Block A6 Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Seville Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Ten Minutes By Tractor Wallis Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Yabby Lake Block 1 Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Silver Medal Standard

Bindi Composition Chardonnay 2012 (Macedon Ganges, Vic)

Bindi Kostas Rind Chardonnay 2013 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Coldstream Hills Deer Farm Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Coldstream Hills Rising Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Dexter Chardonnay 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Dry River Chardonnay 2012 (Wellington, NZ)

Evans and Tate Redbrook Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Forest Hill Chardonnay 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Fraser Gallop Parterre Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Freycinet Chardonnay 2012 (East Coast, Tas)

Giaconda Chardonnay 2011 (Beechworth, Vic)

Golden Ball la-bas Chardonnay 2012 (Beechworth, Vic)

Helen’s Hill Breachely Block Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Kooyong Estate Faultline Chardonnay 2011 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Ngeringa Chardonnay 2012 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Oakridge J&J D’Alosio Chardonnay 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Penfolds Reserve Bin 12A Chardonnay 2012 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Ridgemill Estate WYP Chardonnay 2012 (Granite Belt, Qld)

Savaterre Chardonnay 2012 (Beechworth, Vic)

Shadowfax Geelong Chardonnay 2012 (Geelong, Vic)

Shaw and Smith M3 Chardonnay 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Stella Bella Serie Luminosa Chardonnay 2010 (Margaret River, WA)

Stoney Rise Holyman Chardonnay 2012 (Northern Tas)

Te Mata Estate Elston Chardonnay 2012 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Ten Minutes By Tractor McCutcheon Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vi

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylor’s Pass Chardonnay 2010 (Marlborough, NZ)

Voyager Estate Margaret River Chardonnay 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Wantirna Estate Isabella Chardonnay 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Wolf Blass White Label Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2012 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Xanadu Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Bronze Medal Standard

Barratt Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2011 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Barwang 842 Chardonnay 2012 (Tumbarumba, NSW)

Bilancia Chardonnay 2011 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Cable Bay Waiheke Island Chardonnay 2012 (Auckland, NZ)

Caledonia Australis Gippsland Chardonnay 2010 (South Gippsland, Vic)

Caledonia Australis Gippsland Chardonnay 2012 (South Gippsland, Vic)

Church Road Chardonnay 2012 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Cobaw Ridge Chardonnay 2012 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Cumulus Estate Chardonnay 2012 (Orange, NSW)

Fermoy Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Hungerford Hill Chardonnay 2011  (Tumbarumba, NSW)

Cumulus Estate Chardonnay 2011 (Orange, NSW)

Fowles Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Chardonnay 2012 (Strathbogie Ranges, Vic)

Juniper Estate Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Kooyong Estate Chardonnay 2011 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Lawson Dry Hills Chardonnay 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Millton Estate Chardonnay 2013 (Gisborne, NZ)

Moorilla Estate Praxis Chardonnay Musque 2013 (Southern Tas)

Moorooduc Estate Chardonnay 2011 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Moss Wood Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

O’Leary Walker Chardonnay 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Oakdene Liz’s Chardonnay 2012 (Geelong, Vic)

Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2010 (Canterbury, NZ)

Port Phillip Estate Red Hill Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Snob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (Upper Goulburn, Vic)

Stoney Rise Chardonnay 2013 (Northern Tas)

Tempus Two Pewter Chardonnay 2013 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Muddy Water Waipara Chardonnay 2012 (Canterbury, NZ)

Ten Minutes By Tractor Estate Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Tomich Hill Family Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Whispering Hills Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Pinot Gris/Grigio (91 Tasted, 33 Recommendations, 1 Gold Medal Standard)

Since 2010 Pinot Gris (richer Alsatian style)/Grigio (lean Northern Italian style) has officially left the ranks of alternative varieties and joined the mainstream in Australia (ie, has been excluded from the Australian Alternative Varieties Show). In 2014 it overtook the cask filler, Colombard in the national wine crush. The Pinot Grigio style has been mainstream in Victoria for more than a decade as a café quaffer. In Australia there is now much more Pinot Gris grown than Riesling (2014 vintage figures: Pinot G 61,559 tonnes/ Riesling 22, 662 tonnes).  In New Zealand it is the third most common white variety after Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

The variety grows the best in the cooler regions (Port Phillip Bay, King Valley, Henty, Adelaide Hills, Orange, Tasmania, and New Zealand). At the moment it has very little presence in WA where the ubiquitous SSB blends seem to occupy its market niche. I am not a huge fan of the Pinot Grigio if you are looking for a wine with ‘wow factor’ rather than a pleasant afternoon quaffer. The best of the Grigio style comes from Victoria’s King Valley and Mornington Peninsula and has well judged minerally/phenolic complexity and acid raciness that set them above the pack.

I am more interested in the more off-dry opulent Gris style with Waimea Pinot Gris 2014 and several Silver Medal examples showing balance, liveliness and textural complexity. The style is most common in New Zealand, and to a lesser extent in Tasmania, where conditions often make it difficult to opt for the Pinot Grigio style anyway. Dry River (Wellington) make a particularly opulent 'Alsatian' style. The most common failing with the 58 Pinot G’s that failed to make the cut was simply that they lacked enough complexity or texture to hold my attention rather than showing obvious faults or lack of balance.

Gold Medal Standard

Waimea Estate Pinot Gris 2014 (Nelson, NZ)

Silver Medal Standard

Church Road Pinot Gris 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Dry River Pinot Gris 2013 (Wellington, NZ)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Peregrine Pinot Gris 2013 (Central Otago, NZ)

Rockburn Pinot Gris 2013 (Central Otago, NZ)

Stoneleigh Pinot Gris 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Bronze Medal Standard

Baillieu Vineyard Pinot Gris 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Bilancia Pinot Gris 2011 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Blackenbrook Pinot Gris 2012 (Nelson, NZ)

Clyde Park Pinot Gris 2013 (Geelong, Vic)

Dal Zotto Pinot Grigio 2013 (King Valley, Vic)

Dal Zotto Pinot Grigio 2014 (King Valley, Vic)

Deviation Road Pinot Gris 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Eminence Le Peche Mignon Pinot Grigio 2013 (King Valley, Vic)

Galli Estate Pinot Grigio 2013 (Sunbury, Vic)

Holm Oak Pinot Gris 2014 (Northern Tas)

Pizzini King Valley Pinot Grigio 2013 (King Valley, Vic)

Main Divide Pinot Gris 2013 (Canterbury, NZ)

Man O’ War Exiled Ponui Island Pinot Gris 2013 (Auckland, NZ)

Neudorf Maggie’s Block Pinot Gris 2014 (Nelson, NZ)

Paracombe Pinot Gris 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Pike and Joyce Pinot Gris 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Quealy Musk Creek Pinot Gris 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Quealy Pinot Grigio 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Ros Ritchie Retief’s Vineyard Pinot Gris 2012 (Upper Goulburn, Vic)

Scorpo Estate Pinot Gris 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Stefani Estate The View Pinot Gris 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Pinot Gris 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Tim Adams Pinot Gris 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Whitehaven Pinot Gris 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Wood Park Pinot Gris 2012 (King Valley, Vic)

Riesling (134 Tasted, 73 Recommendations, 12 Gold Medal Standard)

I am a shameless Riesling geek and I regard it as my favourite white variety out of the classical varieties. Riesling is perhaps Australia’s most under-valued and under-appreciated variety that Australia excels at.  I grew up in South Australia so those traditional dry lime/lemon Eden Valley and Clare Valley Rieslings have been a feature of my summer drinking for all of my adult life.

Australian Riesling has gone through an overhaul in the last decade where the traditional minimalist wine-maker intervention approach (pick it and stick it in a stainless steel tank to ferment) is being replaced with subtle wine-maker interventions to bring lees creaminess, minerality, smokiness or even a touch of botrytis (as has long been common in New Zealand Rieslings). There is now a growing band of perfumed, off-dry - sweet (German/Alsatian/Austrian-influenced style) Rieslings coming out from Tasmania, Central Otago, Marlborough and Western Victoria.  The two exciting newer regions for dry Riesling fans are Great Southern (WA) and Canberra (ACT/NSW) with far more producers achieving consistent results across most vintages.

The diversification of local Riesling styles has not been matched by increased production. There was a 4% drop in Riesling production in Australia during 2013, and 23% in 2014 (the latter reflects poor flowering conditions). There was an increase in production in New Zealand in 2013 but this almost certainly reflects the poor flowering conditions in 2012.  The longer term trend is a 30% decline since Riesling’s high point of 2008.

Most of the Rieslings reviewed in this cycle come from the 2013 vintage. The compressed, hot 2013 vintage (on both sides of the Tasman) produced some attractive riper styles but also created issues with excessive banana-oil-like esters (over-ripeness) or conversely delayed primary flavour development (presumably from early picking to avoid the heatwaves or severe rain events). I’m just starting to wade through the 2014 releases. Despite the low yields the signs are promising.

While on the topic of bottle age I think that many Riesling producers are not doing themselves any favours in winning converts to Riesling by rushing their wines out to the retail market in September or October in the same year as vintage before the wines have developed their primary characters.

Gold Medal Standard

Clonakilla Riesling 2013 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Dandelion Vineyards Enchanted Garden of the Eden Valley Riesling 2014 (Eden Valley, SA)

Duke’s Magpie Hill Reserve Riesling 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Dry River Craighall Amaranth Riesling 2013 (Wellington, NZ)

Forrest Estate The Doctors Riesling 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Grant Burge The Vigneron Riesling 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)

Felton Road Block 1 Riesling 2013 (Central Otago, NZ)

Henschke Julius Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling 2009 (Clare Valley, SA)

Printhie MCC Orange Riesling 2013 (Orange, NSW)

Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 2014 (Henty, Vic)

Sinapius Riesling 2012 (Northern Tas)

Silver Medal Standard

Cardinham Estate Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Centennial Vineyards Reserve Riesling (924) 2012 (Southern Highlands, NSW)

Crabtree Watervale Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Crawford River Riesling 2013 (Henty, Vic)

Ferngrove Frankland River Cossack Riesling 2013 (Great Southern, WA)

Flaxman Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Forest Hill Block 1 Mount Barker Riesling 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Fowles Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Riesling 2013 (Strathbogie Ranges, Vic)

Giesen Riesling 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Greenhough Apple Valley Riesling 2014 (Nelson, NZ)

Grosset Alea Off Dry Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Harewood Estate Porongurup Riesling 2013 (Great Southern, WA)

Helm Premium Riesling 2013 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Howard Park Great Southern Riesling 2013 (Great Southern, WA)

Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Jeanerret Single Vineyard Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Mount Trio Porongurup Riesling 2013 (Great Southern, WA)

O’Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling 2014 (Clare Valley, SA)

Paracombe Holland Creek Riesling 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Pike’s Traditionale Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Pike’s The Merle Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Pooley Coal River Riesling 2013 (Southern Tasmania)

St. Hallett Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Stefano Lubiana Estate Riesling 2012 (Southern Tas)

Tim Adams Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, S

Villa Maria Reserve Dry Riesling 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Waimea Classic Riesling 2013 (Nelson, NZ)

Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling 2014 (Canterbury, NZ)

Willoughby Park Kalgan River Ironrock Albany Riesling 2013 (Great Southern, WA)

Bronze Medal Standard

Annie’s Lane Quelltaler Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Ashton Hills Riesling 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Boston Bay Riesling 2013 (Peninsulas Zone, SA)

Capel Vale Whisper Hill Mount Barker Riesling 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Crabtree Watervale Hilltop Vineyard Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Eden Road Canberra Riesling 2013 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Escarpment Riesling 2011 (Wellington, NZ)

Galafrey Dry Land Mt. Barker Riesling 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Gatt High Eden Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Greenhough Hope Vineyard Riesling 2012 (Nelson, NZ)

Hawkshead Central Otago Riesling 2013 (Central Otago, NZ)

Heggies Vineyard Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Hewitson Gun Metal Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Hochkirch Riesling 2012 (Henty, Vic)

Jeir Creek Riesling 2012 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Katnook Estate Riesling 2013 (Coonawarra, SA)

Leconfield Old Vines Riesling 2013 (Coonawarra, SA)

Knappstein Hand Picked Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

O’Leary Walker Watervale Riesling 2014 (Clare Valley, SA)

Mount Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2012 (Central Otago, NZ)

O’Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Plantagent Riesling 2013 (Great Southern, WA)

Poonawatta The Eden Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Paulett Polish Hill Riesling 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Peter Lehmann Portrait Dry Riesling 2012 (Eden Valley, SA)

Poonawatta The Eden Riesling 2012 (Eden Valley, SA)

Riley’s of Eden Valley Family Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Rippon Mature Vine Riesling 2011 (Central Otago, NZ)

Ros Ritchie Barwite Vineyard Riesling 2012 (Upper Goulburn, Vic)

Seville Estate Riesling 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Some Young Punks Monsters Attack Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Talisman Riesling 2013 (Geographe, WA)

Tim Gramp Watervale Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Woollaston Riesling 2013 (Nelson, NZ)

Word of Mouth 1K High Riesling 2013 (Orange, NSW)

Yarrh Riesling 2012 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Sauvignon Blanc (105 Tasted, 38 Recommendations, 5 Gold Medal Standard)

Sauvignon Blanc is by far the most widely planted variety in New Zealand with production double all the other wine varieties (red and white) combined (68% of the national wine crush in 2013).  Sauvignon Blanc is the second most widely planted white variety in Australia, representing 5% of the national wine crush and its plantings continue to increase (by 11% in 2013).

Pungent and grassy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has been the quintessential GenXY women’s drink for the past decade with Oyster Bay SB becoming the top selling white wine in Australia.  Like most in the industry I have become jaded with style. Each year there seems to a dozen new brands, with each moving incrementally to a sweeter, less vegetal mass retail style. Life is too short to track all the new brands but I do track some of the best performers (Cloudy Bay, Saint Clair’s single vineyard releases, Lawson’s Dry River, Delta, Dog Point, and more textural barrel fermented examples such as Seresin and Giesen's The August). Nelson is also producing intensely flavoured styles. There are a few Australian producers from cold spots in the Granite Belt, Southern Tasmania and Adelaide Hills who try to match the intensity of the main Marlborough style, albeit with a touch more blackcurrant showing than their Kiwi rivals.

Fortunately there is more to Sauvignon Blanc than Marlborough and its imitators. The best producers in regions such as the Adelaide Hills, Geelong, Wellington and Yarra Valley have stopped trying to compete with Marlborough and instead are going for restrained food friendly style with textural and barrel ferment complexity. There are also a tiny handful of producers of the Californian inspired oaked/malo Fume Blanc style. A lot of Sauvignon ends up in blends with Semillon but these will be covered below.

Gold Medal Standard

Chapman Grove Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Margaret River, WA)

Clos Henri Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Geoff Weaver Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Tohu Mugwi Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Silver Medal Standard

Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Giesen The August 1888 Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Longview Whippet Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 3 43 Degrees Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

St. Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Te Mata Estate Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Waimea Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Nelson, NZ)

Bronze Medal Standard

Barratt Piccadilly Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Bream Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Southern Tasmania)

Bird In Hand Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Chain of Ponds Black Thursday Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Del Rios of Mt. Anakie Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Geelong,

Helen’s Hill Evolution Fume Blanc 2011 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Lawson Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Mount Avoca Fume Blanc 2012 (Pyrenees, Vic)

Mud House Single Vineyard The Woolshed Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough, NZ)

Nepenthe Altitude  Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

O’Leary Walker Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

O’Leary Walker Wyebo Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Oakdene Jessica Sauvignon 2013 (Geelong, Vic)

Paracombe Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Patrick of Coonawarra Fume Blanc 2013 (Coonawarra, SA)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

St. Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

St. Clair Pioneer Block 3 43 Degrees Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Seville Estate The Barber Fume Blanc 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Villa Maria Wairau Valley Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Sunset Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Kangaroo Island, SA)

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Te Whare Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Willow Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Woolaston Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Nelson, NZ)

Semillon and SSB blends (58 Tasted, 23 Recommendations, 6 Gold Medal Standard)

Many would be surprised that there is almost as much Semillon grown in Australia as Sauvignon Blanc (In 2014 Semillon was 4.2% of the national wine crush compared to 3.6% for Pinot G). Semillon is now most commonly consumed as part of a blend with Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.  It is hard to find more than one or two brands of stand alone Semillon in most bottleshops.  The SSB blends this year are included in this section.

As usual the best stand alone Semillons are the long-lived Hunter Valley and Shoalhaven examples. Fortunately Semillon has proven to be a remarkably hardy variety when coping with the drought-flood cycles that near coast regions in NSW such as Hunter and Shoalhaven have suffered in the last decade. The Barossa and Clare Valleys again produced more short-lived but commendable Semillons.

The Margaret River is also a top producer of Semillon and SSB blends. Similar to recent years there is a big quality gap between the handful of top SSB blends and the pervasive dumbed down soft, sweet version aimed at the mass retail market.  I suspect this has something to do with the excessive number of wineries in the Margaret River and the scramble to break into the big retail chains.

Gold Medal Standard

Chapman Grove Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Margaret River, WA)

Coolangatta Estate Grown Aged Release Semillon 2007 (Shoalhaven Coast, NSW)

First Creek Reserve Semillon 2013 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Fraser Gallop Parterre Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Harewood Estate Reserve Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Great Southern, WA)

Keith Tulloch Field of Mars Block 2A Semillon 2012 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Silver Medal Standard

Bimbadgen Estate Signature Semillon 2014 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Fraser Gallop Parterre Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Margaret River, WA)

Grosset Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Clare Valley/Adelaide Hills, SA)

Juniper Estate Aquitaine Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Moss Wood Semillon 2013 (Margaret River,

Mount Horrocks Semillon 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Peter Lehmann Margaret Semillon 2009 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Pierro Ltc Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Margaret River, WA)

Sorrenberg Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013 (Beechworth, Vic)

Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 (Margaret River, WA)

The Islander Estate Wally White Semillon 2011 (Kangaroo Island, SA)

Thomas Braemore Individual Vineyard Semillon 2012 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013 (Margaret River, WA)

Voyager Estate Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Margaret River, WA)

Bronze Medal Standard

Brokenwood Semillon 2013 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

De Iulius Hunter Valley Semillon 2012 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Krinklewood Semillon 2012 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Two Rivers Stone Throw Semillon 2013 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

White Rhones (Viognier/Marsanne/Roussanne and blends) (52 Tasted, 17 Recommendations, 0 Gold Medal Standard)

While many have tried, only a few have succeeded with these fickle varieties. Nevertheless when it works I find them some of the most beguiling varieties with rich spice complexity, apricot/orange rind flavours, a full, viscous body and in the case of Viognier a tannic/phenolic structure missing from most whites.

Citrussy/nutty Marsanne and Roussanne have had a long history in Australia, particularly the Yarra Valley in the 19th century and with Tahbilk in the Goulburn Valley.  The varieties also have a foothold in the Heathcote, Canberra, Beechworth, Mudgee, Margaret River and the Barossa Valley.  The production of Marsannne in Australia is expanding with an 8% increase in 2013.

After facing near global extinction in the 1960s Viognier was only introduced couple of decades ago in Australia. It is even newer in New Zealand. Indeed I use it to break the convictions of some red wine drinkers that all white are boring, lean, high acid affairs. It is starting to become clearer what regions are suited to Viognier: Eden Valley (SA), Geelong (Vic), Heathcote (Vic), Canberra (NSW/ACT), Hawke’s Bay (NZ), Gisborne (NZ), and Perth Hills (WA). Excessive oiliness, bitter phenolics or over-cooked fruit are the most common issues.  Viognier production in Australia increased by 29% during 2013 and it now makes up 1% of the national grape crush.  In 2014 its vulnerability at flowering caused much of the 83% decline. Viognier production in New Zealand has plateaued since 2007 at around 0.02% of the national grape crush.

Gold Medal Standard


Silver Medal Standard

Del Rios of Mt.Anakie Marsanne 2011 (Geelong, Vic)

Bronze Medal Standard

Cable Bay Waiheke Island Viognier 2012 (Auckland, NZ)

Campbells Limited Release Viognier 2012 (Rutherglen, Vic)

Elephant Hill Viognier 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Gatt Accent Viognier 2012 (Eden Valley, SA)

McIvor Estate Marsanne Viognier Roussanne 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Millbrook Perth Hills Viognier 2013 (Perth Hills, WA)

Murray Street MSV Viognier Marsanne 2013 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Ngeringa Viognier 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Shelmerdine Merindoc Viognier 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Stefani Estate Marsanne Roussanne 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Sutton Grange Estate Viognier 2011 (Bendigo, Vic)

Tarrawarra Estate Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Torbreck The Steading Blanc 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Turner’s Crossing Viognier 2012 (Bendigo, Vic)

Vinea Marson Viognier 2011 (Heathcote, Vic)

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Yangarra Viognier 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Other Alternative White Varieties and Blends (103 Tasted, 47 Recommendations, 5 Gold Medal Standard)

This rather broad category includes Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Verdelho, Pinot Blanc, the plethora of new Italian, German and Spanish white varietals, non fortified Muscats, and Savagnin Blanc (mistakenly imported as Albarino).

It has proven rather difficult to translate the heady rose petal/lychee/talc opulence of Alsatian Gewurztraminer to Australasia. Growers with younger vines have almost invariably relied on heavy extraction to find varietal expression but at the price of excessively bitter phenolics. Others have succumbed to the excessively ripe oiliness the variety so easily slides into at the expense of texture. Many more New Zealand producers are having a go with this variety with Gisborne’s Gewurztraminer specialist, Vinoptima, leading the way. There are a handful of convincing varietal expressions in Australian higher altitude regions (New England, Adelaide Hills, Perth Hills) and Spring Vale on the east coast of Tasmania, although not all were covered in this review cycle. The biodynamic Millton are leading the way with Chenin Banc.

Australia is virtually unique for its widespread use of Verdelho as an unoaked dry table wine (it is more famously used in fortified Madeira wines). It typically has a vibrant up front palate that unleashes a cocktail of tropical fruits but falls down on the finish. It is most commonly seen in warmer regions such as northern NSW, Queensland’s Granite Belt and Perth’s Swan Valley. In 2014 it made up 0.5% of the national wine crush.

The best of the northern Italian varietals come from the alpine regions of Victoria (King Valley, Alpine Valleys). Arneis is also on the way up with a 13% increase in its share of the Australian wine crush in 2014. There is also a flurry of promising Fiano coming out of the Heathcote, Clare Valley, Bendigo and Langhorne Creek.  Expect to see a lot more of the Southern Italian variety, Vermentino, in coming years as there are now substantial plantings of this drought-resistant variety in inland Australia.

In terms of blends the Mt. Mary Triolet and Te Whare Ra’s Alsatian blend lead the way but there is surprisingly little white blending experimentation outside of the Bordeaux and Rhone styles given the range of varieties now in Australia.

Gold Medal Standard

Millton Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2013 (Gisborne, NZ)

Mount Mary Triolet (Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Muscadelle) 2011 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Symphony Hill Gewurztraminer 2013 (New England, NSW)

Vigna Bottin Vermentino 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Vinoptima Reserve Gerwurztraminer 2008 (Gisborne, NZ)

Silver Medal Standard

ArtWine Fiano 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Kangarilla Road Dueto (Vermentino Fiano) 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

919 Petit Manseng 2013 (Riverland, SA)

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Fumare (Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Pinot Gris) 2012

Paradise IV Blanche 2013 (Geelong, Vic)

Penfolds Cellar Reserve Woodbury Vineyard Traminer 2011 (Eden Valley, SA)

Ros Ritchie Deadman’s Hill Gewurztraminer 2012 (Upper Goulburn, Vic)

Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Sutton Grange Fiano 2013 (Bendigo, NZ)

Te Whare Ra Toru Gentil Blend 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Vinoptima Bond Road Gerwurztraminer 2009 (Gisborne, NZ)

Waimea Estate Gruner Veltliner  2014 (Nelson, NZ)

Bronze Medal Standard

Bremerton Special Release Fiano 2013 (Langhorne Creek, SA)

Brookwood Estate Chenin Blanc 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Burke and Wills Mia Mia Gewurztraminer 2014 (Heathcote, Vic)

Chalmers Fiano 2011 (Heathcote, Vic)

Coriole Fiano 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Flynns Verdelho 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Flynns Vermentino 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Forrest Estate Gewurztraminer 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Foster e Rocco Fiano 2011 (Heathcote, Vic)

Golden Grove Vermentino 2013 (Granite Belt, Qld)

Hastwell & Lightfoot Vermentino 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Helen’s Hill The Nemesis Arneis 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Huia Gewurztraminer 2009 (Marlborough, NZ)

Kay Brothers Muscat Blanc 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Knappstein Three Gewurztraminer Pinot Gris Riesling 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Lawson Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Mitolo Jester Vermentino 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Murramong Arneis 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Paul Conti Tuart Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2013 (Swan Valley, WA)

Pike and Joyce Gruner Veltliner 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Rippon Gewurztraminer 2012 (Central Otago, NZ)

Pizzini Verduzzo 2012 (King Valley, Vic)

Salena Estate Ink Series Bianco d ‘Alessano 2012 (Riverland, SA)

Salena Estate Ink Series Vermentino 2012 (Riverland, SA)

Sam Miranda Arneis 2012 (King Valley, Vic)

Stonecroft Gewurztraminer 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Symphonia Museum Release Petit Manseng 2008 (King Valley, Vic)

Tellurian Fiano 2014 (Heathcote, Vic)

Two Rivers Hidden Hive Verdelho 2012 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Vinea Marson Grazia (Pinot Blanc Friulano Malvasia d’Istria) 2011 (Heathcote, Vic)

Waimea Gewurztraminer 2013 (Nelson, NZ)

Whispering Hills Arneis 2010 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Most Recommended Dry Red Wines List 2014

Cabernet Merlot and Bordeaux-style Blends (67 Tasted, 23  Recommendations, 3 Gold Medal Standard)

These blends are an insurance by wineries against vintage variation as the ratio of the up to six or seven Bordeaux varieties can be varied to maintain a consistent estate style. No surprise that this category is dominated by the regions where Cabernet is very good but susceptible to plenty of vintage variation (Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Hawke’s Bay). Two of the standouts are from Hawke’s Bay which is proving to be the sweet spot for Australasian Merlot and the two Cabernet varieties.  Generally the 45 wines that missed the cut showed excessive greenness, astringency or heavy extraction.

Gold Medal Standard

Cullen Diana Madeline 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Evans and Tate Metricup Road Cabernet Merlot 2011 (Margaret River, WA

Paradise IV Chaumont 2013 (Geelong, Vic)

Silver Medal Standard

Balnaves The Blend 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Brookland Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Church Road Merlot Cabernet Malbec 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Heathcote II Myola 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Helen’s Hill Cabernets 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Petaluma Evans Vineyard Coonawarra 2010 (Coonawarra, SA)

Stefani Estate The Gate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Te Mata Estate Awatea Cabernet Sauvignon (Merlot) 2011 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Trinity Hill The Gimblett Merlot Cabernet Franc 2012 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Blend 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Yeringberg Yeringberg Cabernets2011 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Bronze Medal Standard

Church Road Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

DiGiorgio Emporio 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Giant Steps Harry’s Monster 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Gioiello Cabernet Merlot 2010 (Upper Goulburn, Vic)

Sally’s Hill Cabernets 2010 (Pyrenees, Vic)

Voyager Estate Girt By Sea Cabernet Merlot 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Warramate Black Label Cabernets 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Tappanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc 2008 (Wrattonbully, SA)

Wendouree Cabernet Malbec 2011 (Clare Valley, SA)

West Cape Howe Cabernet Merlot 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Cabernet Sauvignon (116 Tasted, 45 Recommendations, 8 Gold Medal Standard)

After the difficulties with the 2011 vintage (except for Western Australia) it was a pleasure to return to evenly ripened Cabernet from many areas from the 2012 vintage, particularly the Coonawarra.

In Australia Cabernet has been holding its ground at around 13% of the national grape crush.  The situation is different in New Zealand, despite the international accolades for Hawke’s Bay Cabernet, the variety’s share of the national wine crush has fallen from 3,018 tonnes in 2005 to 1,742 tonnes in 2014.

Gold Medal Standard

Brookland Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Craggy Range The Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Flaxman Shhh Cabernet 2012 (Eden Valley, SA)

Houghton Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Great Southern, WA)

Woodlands Heather Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Margaret River, WA)

Woodlands Alex Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Coonawarra, SA)

Xanadu Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Silver Medal Standard

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Coonawarra, SA)

Bird In Hand Adelaide Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Brand’s Laira Blocker’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Churchview Bartondale Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Margaret River, WA)

Fermoy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Fraser Gallop Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Hayshed Hill Block 2 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Margaret River, WA)

Howard Park Abercrombie 2011 (Great Southern/Margaret River, WA)

Juniper Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Margaret River, WA)

Lake Breeze Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Langhorne Creek, SA)

Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Margaret River, WA)

Lindeman’s St. George Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Parker Coonawarra Estate Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Stella Bella Serie Luminosa Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Margaret River, WA)

Suckfizzle Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Margaret River, WA)

Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2009 (Margaret River, WA)

Wynn’s Alex 88 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Coonawarra, SA)

Wynn’s Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Yering Station Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Bronze Medal Standard

Banks Thargo Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Bianchet Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Cape Jaffa Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Mount Benson, SA)

Crabtree Watervale Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

DiGiorgio Francesca Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Limestone Coast Zone, SA)

Gatt High Eden Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)

Henschke Cyril Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Eden Valley, SA)

Hentley Farm von Kasper Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Milvine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Penley Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Coonawarra, SA)

Sandhurst Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Bendigo, Vic)

Shingleback D Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Tidswell Jennifer Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Limestone Coast Zone, SA)

Whispering Hills Cabernet 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River, WA)


Grenache, Mourvedre and Red Rhone Blends (63 Tasted, 35 Recommendations, 4 Gold Medal Standard)

Rhone-inspired GMS blends are one of my favourite red wine styles and the best in this category are mainly from the very old vine plantings from South Australia (Clare Valley, Barossa Valley, Eden Valley and McLaren Vale).  Some of the ancient 150 year old Grenache and Mourvedre vines are world vine treasures as stand alones. At the slightly lower tier, but still at a worthwhile level there are a few interlopers are from a handful of little known central Victorian old vines that were bypassed by the phylloxera-related demise of the old Victorian wine industry. There are some younger but now mature vines now in Queensland’s Granite Belt and South Burnett, Geographe and in Canberra.

The 2012 releases from South Australia are some of the finest I have tried with more elegance and suppleness than the pre-2011 drought vintages while maintaining the intense flavours.

Gold Medal Standard

Dandelion Vineyards March Hare of the Barossa Mataro 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

John Duval Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Massena The Moonlight Run Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Spinifex Indigne Shiraz Mataro 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Silver Medal Standard

Dandelion Vineyards Menagerie of the Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Grant Burge Abednego 2009 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Head Wines Old Vine Grenache 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Hewitson Miss Harry Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Landhaus Classics Mourvedre Grenache Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Maverick Twins Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Penny’s Hill The Experiment Grenache 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Samuel’s Gorge Grenache 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Spinifex Espirit Grenache Mataro Cinsault 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Teusner Righteous Grenache 2009 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Teusner Righteous Mataro 2009 (Barossa Valley, SA)

The Islander Estate Old Rowley Shiraz Grenache Viognier 2012 (Kangaroo Island, SA)

Wendouree Shiraz Mataro 2010 (Clare Valley, SA)

Yangarra Old Vine Grenache 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Bronze Medal Standard

Chapel Hill Mourvedre 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

D’Arenberg The Twentyeight Road Mourvedre 2010 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Grant Burge Holy Trinity Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Hardys Tintara Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Hewitson Ned & Henry Shiraz Mourvedre 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Landhaus Classics Grenache 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA))

Kilikanoon The Medley Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Murray Street Black Label Grenache 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Pike’s The Assemblage Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Shelmerdine Willoughby Bridge Syrah Grenache 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Shingleback Local Heroes Shiraz Grenache 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Tellurian Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Teusner Avatar Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2011 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Teusner Joshua Grenache Mataro Shiraz 2013 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Veritas Bull’s Blood 2009 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Yangarra Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Yangarra Mourvedre 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Merlot, Malbec and other non Cab Sav Bordeaux varieties (63 Tasted, 20 Recommendations, 1 Gold Medal Standard)

Merlot’s generally plush tannins means it has a loyal band of followers but Australasian examples often disappoint.  Common faults are lack of palate weight, weak tannic structure or if made in a medium-full bodied style it often becomes a juicy ‘dry red’ lacking in varietal expression.

Merlot seems to be best suited to New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay with three times as much Merlot planted there than Cabernet Sauvignon.  The overall production level of Merlot in New Zealand has increased slightly over the last decade compared to the rapid decline of Cabernet. Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels is the best of the Hawke’s Bay Merlots but wasn’t covered in this review cycle. Merlot production in Australia has fairly static over the last five years.

Malbec is normally used in blends but sometimes is released as a stand alone. Wendouree are almost alone in producing a tannic, seriously structured Malbec (in some ways comparable to some of the best Argentinean Malbecs). Too often in Australia it is a juicy dry red quaffer.

Gold Medal Standard

Wendouree Malbec 2010 (Clare Valley, SA)

Silver Medal Standard

Dandelion Vineyards Damsel of Dandelion Merlot 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Pirramimma White Label Reserve Merlot HN 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Bronze Medal Standard

Belgravia Merlot 2011 (Orange, NSW)

Boston Bay Merlot 2012 (Peninsulas Zone, SA)

Deonte Estate 550 Merlot 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Gibson Reserve Merlot 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Hastwell & Lightfoot Cabernet Franc 2010 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Millbrook Jarrahdale Petit Verdot 2012 (Perth Hills, WA)

Penny’s Hill Malpas Road Merlot 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Petaluma Merlot 2010 (Coonawarra, SA)

St. Mary’s Petit Verdot 2012 (Limestone Coast Zone, SA)

Sally’s Hill Cabernet Franc 2010 (Pyrenees, Vic)

Sandhurst Ridge Merlot 2012 (Bendigo, Vic)

Symphony Hill Reserve Petit Verdot 2009 (Granite Belt, Qld)

The Islander Estate Majestic Plough Malbec 2012 (Kangaroo Island, SA)

Thorn-Clarke St.Kitts Northern Barossa Malbec 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Wise Leaf Series Malbec 2012 (Margaret River, WA)

Pinot Noir (228 Tasted, 74 Recommendations, 16 Gold Medal Standard)

Pinot Noir has the largest acreage of vineyard plantings of New Zealand’s red varieties although the past rapid growth has plateaued due to market saturation.  It makes up 9% of the national grape crush which is large  when you remember that Sauvignon Blanc alone is more than two thirds of the national grape crush.

Pinot Noir is the fourth most widely grown red variety in Australia where it makes up around 2% of the national grape crush. Nothing polarizes wine judges and writers like debates over what constitutes really good New World Pinot Noir.  Once again I have awarded few Golds to Central Otago and Southern Tasmanian fruit-bombs despite the cult followings both now have with many Pinot-philes.

The ones I did pick from my many tastings from these regions had the structure, length and complexity missing from the rest of the pack. Wellington (Martinborough), Yarra Valley, the Mornington Peninsula and to a lesser extent, Canterbury, Geelong and Northern Tasmania have dominated my picks. 2010 and 2012 were very good years for Victoria, particularly the Mornington Peninsula. 2012 was a very cold, difficult vintage in New Zealand although some good, slightly more austere Pinot was made. The 2013 releases on both sides of the Tasman, reflect the warmer vintage and are broader and riper in style. The poor flowering conditions for the 2014 vintage have reduced the Pinot Noir crush in Australia by 22%. Conversely in New Zealand the large 36,499 tonne crush in 2014 is a record.

Gold Medal Standard

Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2012 (Wellington, NZ)

Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Bream Creek Pinot Noir 2012 (Southern Tas)

Clyde Park Block F College Block Pinot Noir 2013 (Geelong, Vic)

Coldstream Hills The Esplanade Pinot Noir 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Freycinet Pinot Noir 2012 (East Coast, Tas)

Garagiste Merricks Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 (Southern Tas)

Provenance Golden Plains Pinot Noir 2013 (Geelong/Henty, Vic)

Scorpo Estate Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Tarrawarra Estate Ltd Release MDB Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Estate Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Yabby Lake Block 2 Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vi

Silver Medal Standard

Akarua Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2013 (Central Otago, NZ)

Ashton Hills Estate Pinot Noir 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Ashton Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2013 (Northern Tas)

Dry River Pinot Noir 2012 (Wellington, NZ)

Helen’s Hill Long Walk Pinot Noir 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2013 (Central Otago, NZ)

Kooyong Estate Ferrous Pinot Noir 2011 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Medhurst Pinot Noir 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2011 (Wellington, NZ)

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2011 (Canterbury, NZ)

Pooley Coal River Valley Pinot Noir 2013 (Southern Tas)

Pooley Butcher’s Hill Pinot Noir 2012 (Southern Tas)

Pyramid Valley Cowley Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 (Marlborough, NZ)

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (Central Otago, NZ)

Stefano Lubiana Estate Pinot Noir 2012 (Southern Tas)

Rippon Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2011 (Central Otago, NZ)

Stoney Rise Project X Pinot Noir 2012 (Northern Tas)

Toolangi Paul’s Lane Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Two Paddocks First Paddock Gibbston Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Otago, NZ)

Wooing Tree Sandstorm Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Otago, NZ)

Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Bronze Medal Standard

Allies Merricks Pinot Noir 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2013 (Wellington, NZ)

Austin’s Barabool Pinot Noir 2012 (Geelong, Vic)

Barratt The Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA

Bellarmine Estate Pinot Noir 2012 (Pemberton, WA)

Bindi Dixon Pinot Noir 2013 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Cobaw Ridge Pinot Noir 2012 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Craggy Range Te Muna Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011 (Wellington, NZ)

De Bortoli Riorret The Abbey Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Delta Pinot Noir 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Delta Hatters Pinot Noir 2009 (Marlborough, NZ)

Dexter Pinot Noir 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Hawkshead Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (Central Otago, NZ)

Giant Steps Applejack Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Giesen SVS Clayvin Pinot Noir 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Gibbston Valley Gold River Pinot Noir 2011 (Central Otago, NZ)

Gibbston Valley China Terrace Pinot Noir 2009 (Central Otago, NZ)

Greenhough Hope Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 (Nelson, NZ)

Greenhough Hope Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 (Nelson, NZ)

Harewood Estate D Block Pinot Noir 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Holm Oak Pinot Noir 2013 (Northern Tas)

Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 (Southern Tas)

Jones Road Nepean Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Judge Rock Pinot Noir 2012 (Central Otago, NZ)

Julicher Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013 (Wellington, NZ)

Kooyong Estate Haven Pinot Noir 2011 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Mount Difficulty Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2013 (Central Otago, NZ)

Mount Difficulty Long Gully Pinot Noir 2012 (Central Otago, NZ)

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Guerin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Pike and Joyce WJJ Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Savaterre Pinot Noir 2012 (Beechworth, Vic)

Shaw and Smith Pinot Noir 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Spy Valley Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Te Whare Ra Pinot Noir 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Ten Minutes By Tractor Estate Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

The Cups Estate Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Tongue In Groove North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2012 (Canterbury, NZ)

Wantirna Estate Lily Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Shiraz/Syrah (369 Tasted, 145 Recommendations, 31 Gold Medal Standard)

Shiraz is Australia’s most planted variety and makes up 24% of national wine crush.  In New Zealand where it is goes by its international name, Syrah, it has a growing presence and is now the third most widely planted red variety (up from 183 ha in 2004 to 423 ha in 2014).  This is a massive list reflecting the pre-eminent role this variety plays in the Australian industry, and increasingly in Hawke’s Bay. At the top end the best producers are better harnessing the potential of the ancient and old vines of South Australia and Hunter Valley by dropping the high alcohol levels and increasing the ratio of French oak to American oak. Heading off on a different Northern Rhone tangent (with various levels of whole bunch funkiness) are a range of exciting Shirazes emerging from Victoria, Canberra, Adelaide Hills and Hawke’s Bay.

Shiraz is a much more vintage-hardy variety than Cabernet or Merlot but the compressed development of some the hottest vintages such as 2007 can lead to jamminess or un-even ripeness (mismatch between sugar and flavour development). 2010 was a very good vintage in most regions with evenly ripened wines without excessive alcohol levels. The cold 2011 vintage led to some rather diluted, green edged wines (cut to jokes about Barossa Shiraz tasting like Beaujalois) but smarter wine-makers embraced the chance to produce highly aromatic, if lighter bodied styles. The 2012 Shirazes were extremely strong across many regions, although New Zealand Syrah was affected by the cold, wet vintage (similar to 2011 in SE Australia). 2013 was a hot, drought vintage in NZ so it will be interesting to see more releases from this vintage.

This category also includes the Shiraz Viognier co-ferment wines. I do not believe this style is really suited to warm climate Shiraz and also that producers often put in way too much Viognier (ie my general rule of thumb is that there should not be more than 4% unless a wine is particularly tannic/acidic). However, the style does seem to really work with cool climate Canberra Shiraz and Viognier, and it is not just Clonakilla that is picking up well deserved plaudits. The Hilltops, Hawke's Bay, Mount Benson, Perth Hills, Sunbury and Adelaide Hills are also have some promise of genuinely synergystic Shiraz Viognier rather than orange jaffa or apricot mush wines.

Gold Medal Standard

Bilancia La Collina Syrah 2009 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 2011 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Dalwhinnie Moonambel Shiraz 2012 (Pyrenees, Vic)

Dalwhinnie The Eagle Shiraz 2012 (Pyrenees, Vic)

De Bortoli A8 Syrah 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Dry River Lovat Syrah 2011 (Wellington, NZ)

De Iuliis Limited Release Shiraz 2011 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Grampians Estate Garden Gully Vineyard St. Ethels Shiraz 2010 (Grampians, Vic)

Henschke Hill of Grace 2009 (Eden Valley, SA)

Hugh Hamilton Blood III Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Jamsheed Beechworth Syrah 2012 (Beechworth, Vic)

Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Kangarilla Road Alluvial Clays Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Massena The Eleventh Hour Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Moppity Vineyards Reserve Shiraz 2013 (Hilltops, NSW)

Mount Avoca Old Vine Shiraz 2012 (Pyrenees, Vic)

Mt. Langi Ghiran Shiraz 2012 (Grampians, Vic)

Munari Estate Lady’s Pass Shiraz 2011 (Heathcote, Vic)

Oakdene William Shiraz 2012 (Geelong, Vic)

Paradise IV Dardel Shiraz 2013 (Geelong, Vic)

Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz 2010 (SA, multi-region)

Penfolds Grange 2009 (SA, multi-region)

St. Hallett Old Block Shiraz 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Seppelt St. Peters Shiraz 2012 (Grampians, Vic)

She-Oak Hill Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Spinifex Bete Noir Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Spinifex La Maline Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Standish The Standish Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Syrahmi La La Shiraz 2009 (Heathcote, Vic)

Wendouree Shiraz 2010 (Clare Valley, SA)

Silver Medal Standard

Bilancia Syrah 2011 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Blackjack Block 6 Shiraz 2010 (Bendigo, NZ)

Brand’s Laira Stentiford Shiraz 2011 (Coonawarra, SA)

Buckshot Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Chalmers Le Sorelle Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Chapel Hill The Chosen House Block Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Coldstream Hills Reserve Shiraz 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic

Coriole Willunga 1920 Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2009 (McLaren Vale, SA)

D’Arenberg Tyche’s Mustard Single Vineyard Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Deonte Estate Reserve 710 Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Eden Road Gundagai Shiraz 2012 (Gundagai, NSW)

Elephant Hill Syrah 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Elephant Hill Syrah 2012 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

First Creek Reserve Shiraz 2013 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Flynns MC Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Harcourt Valley Old Vine Shiraz 2012 (Bendigo, Vic)

Hart of the Barossa The Brave Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Head Wines The Blonde Shiraz Viognier 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Head Wines The Brunette Moppa Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Heathcote II Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Hentley Farm The Beauty Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Hewitson The Mother Vine Barossa Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Houghton Thomas Yule Frankland River Shiraz 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Flaxman Shiraz 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)

John Duval Entity Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Kies Klauber Block Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Landhaus Classics Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Longview The Piece Shiraz 2009 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Mt. Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2013 (Grampians, Vic)

Murdoch Hill The Landau Single Vineyard Oakbank Syrah 2012 (Aelaide Hills, SA)

Maygar’s Hill Reserve Shiraz 2010 (Strathbogie Ranges, Vic)

Mia Valley Estate Reserve Shiraz 2010 (Heathcote, Vic)

Mount Avoca Malakoff Shiraz 2012 (Pyrenees, Vic)

Paxton Quandong Farm Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Port Phillip Estate Red Hill Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2011 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Peter Lehmann VSV 1885 Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Plantagenet Mt. Barker Shiraz 2010 (Great Southern, WA)

Poonawatta The Cuttings Shiraz 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)

Sanguine Estate Inception Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Savaterre Shiraz 2012 (Beechworth, Vic)

Scorpo Estate Single Vineyard Shiraz 2008 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz 2012 (Grampians, Vic)

Shingleback Unedited Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Shottesbrooke Blewitt Springs Single Vineyard Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Standish The Relic Shiraz Viognier 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Syrahmi Siren Shiraz 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Tarrawarra Estate Block J Shiraz 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Tempus Two Uno Shiraz 2011 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Thomas Elenay Shiraz 2011 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Wangolina Station Spectrum Syrah 2012 (Mount Benson, SA)

Willow Bridge Gravel Pit Shiraz 2012 (Geographe, WA)

Wirra Wirra Whaite Old Block Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Yangarra Ironheart Shiraz 2010 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Bronze Medal Standard

Babich Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Road Syrah 2012 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Burnbrae Shiraz 2012 (Mudgee, NSW)

Burke and Wills Vat 1 Shiraz 2010 (Heathcote, Vic)

Burnt Acre Shiraz 2012 (Bendigo, NZ)

Chapel Hill The Chosen Road Block Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Chapel Hill The Vicar Shiraz 2011 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Cobaw Ridge Syrah 2010 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Coriole Galaxdia Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

D’Arenberg The Amarinthe Single Vineyard Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

D’Arenberg The Eight Iron Single Vineyard Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Del Rios of Mt.Anakie Shraz 2012 (Geelong, Vic)

Deonte Estate 502 Shiraz 2012 (Coonawarrra/Yarra Valley)

Deviation Road Mary’s Reserve Shiraz 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Eden Road Canberra Shiraz 2012 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Gemtree Stage 7 Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Gemtree Uncut Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Gibson Dirtman Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Gioiello Estate Mt. Concord Syrah 2012 (Upper Goulburn, Vic)

Golden Ball Shiraz 2010 (Beechworth, Vic)

Haselgrove The Ambassador Single Vineyard Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Head Wines The Contrarian Syrah 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Heathcote Winery Mail Coach Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Heathcote Winery Slaughterhouse Paddock Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Henry’s Drive Syrah 2012 (Padthaway, SA)

Hugh Hamilton Blood II Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Hugo Reserve Shiraz 2010 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Katnook Estate Prodigy Shiraz 2009 (Coonawarra, SA)

Kellermeister Wild Witch Shiraz 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Longview Yakka Shiraz 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Luke Lambert Syrah 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Maxwell Eocene Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Mitolo Savitar Shiraz 2010 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Mount Avoca Estate Shiraz 2012 (Pyrenees, Vic)

Mt. Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2012 (Grampians, Vic)

Mount Trio Porongurup Shiraz 2011 (Great Southern, WA)

Newbridge Shiraz 2012 (Bendigo, Vic)

Ngeringa Syrah 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Nick O’Leary Bolaro Shiraz 2012 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Patterson’s Gundagai Vineyard Shiraz 2010 (Gundagai, NSW)

Penny’s Hill Footprint Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Pertaringa Undercover Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Sanguine Estate D’Orsa Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Sanguine Estate Progeny Shiraz 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Sandhurst Ridge Shiraz 2012 (Bendigo, Vic)

Shadowfax Shiraz 2012 (Port Phillip Zone/Heathcote, Vic)

Shaw and Smith Shiraz 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Shottesbrooke Reserve Eliza Shiraz 2010 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Stonecroft Serine Syrah 2012 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Sunset Shiraz 2011 (Kangaroo Island, SA)

Sutton Grange Estate Syrah 2008 (Bendigo, Vic)

Te Mata Estate Syrah 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Teusner Righteous FG Shiraz 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Tellurian Tranter Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Tim Adams Shiraz 2010 (Clare Valley, SA)

Trinity Hill Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Turner’s Crossing Shiraz Viognier 2012 (Bendigo, Vic)

Tyrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz 2011 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Vigna Bottin Shiraz 2010 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Wignalls Shiraz 2012 (Great Southern, WA)

Wirra Wirra RSW Shiraz 2011 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Yering Station Shiraz Viognier 2011 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Spanish and Portuguese Varieties and Blends  (50 Tasted, 17 Recommendations, 1 Gold Medal Standard)

Tempranillo is still a work in progress in Australia, and barely present in New Zealand. This variety should be well suited to many Australian regions and it should not be long before we see more top rung local examples.  Tempranillo has increased it share of the national grape crush from 1,756 tonnes in 2009 to 5,476 tonnes in 2014. The Granite Belt (ie, Golden Grove, Summit Estate) with its continental, high altitude locality has some comparisons with the Rioja (barring the sometimes heavy summer rainstorms), Canberra also seems well suited for similar reasons (Mount Majura is the flag bearer here).  More surprising is the success of Tempranillo in the maritime climes like McLaren Vale (SA), Geographe (WA) and Huon Valley in Southern Tasmania. Commendable examples of another Spanish red variety, Graciano, can be found at Mount Majura, Geoff Hardy (Langhorne Creek) and Artwine (Clare Valley). The Barossa Valley’s Quatro Mano continues to be the flag bearer for Portuguese varieties.

Gold Medal Standard

Golden Grove Tempranillo 2011 (Granite Belt, Qld)

Silver Medal Standard

ArtWine Graciano 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Hardys Tintara Tinta Mole Touriga Grenache 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Quattro Mano La Gracia Tempranillo Touriga Tinta Amarela 2010 (Barossa/Adelaide Hills, SA)

Woodstock OCTOgenarian Grenache Tempranillo 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Bronze Medal Standard

ArtWine Tempranillo 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Cascabel Joven Tempranillo 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Freeman Altura Tempranillo 2012 (Hilltops, NSW)

Grampians Estate Grenache Shiraz Tempranillo 2013 (Grampians Estate, Vic)

Handcrafted By Geoff Hardy Graciano 2012 (Langhorne Creek, SA)

Hastwell & Lightfoot Tempranillo 2011 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Heathcote II Tempranillo 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Paxton Tempranillo 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Ros Ritchie Cowan’s Vineyard Tempranillo 2012 (Upper Goulburn, Vic)

St. Hallett Grenache Shiraz Touriga 2013 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Samuel’s Gorge Tempranillo 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Tim Adams The Fergus Grenache Tempranillo 2009 (Clare Valley, SA)

Italian and other Varieties (64 Tasted, 22 Recommendations, 0 Gold Medal Standard)

This covers Italian varieties such as Aglianico, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Marzemino, Lagrein, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Montepulciano, Negro Amaro and Sagrantino. We are also getting a better idea of where the varieties work in Australia (ie Nebbiolo seems to have an affinity with the Adelaide Hills, Heathcote and Hilltops) although it is still very much a work in progress. Barbera and Sangiovese will be a lot more important to the industry as they can make respectable savoury food friendly wines in a greater diversity of regions. The Italian red varietals have only a tiny presence in New Zealand (Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Dolcetto).

Gold Medal Standard


Silver Medal Standard

Grove Estate Sommita Nebbiolo 2010 (Hilltops, NSW)

Hand Crafted By Geoff Hardy Primitivo 2010 (Langhorne Creek, SA)

Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Nebbiolo 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Kangarilla Road Sangiovese 2012 (McLaren Vale, SA)

McIvor Estate Gianischeddu Sangiovese Cabernet 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Vigna Bottin Barbera 2011 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Vinea Marson Nebbiolo 2009 (Heathcote, Vic)

Bronze Medal Standard

Buckshot Square Peg Zinfandel 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Coriole Sangiovese 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Dal Zotto Barbera 2013 (King Valley, Vic)

Coriole Sangiovese 2011 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Freeman Secco Rondinella Corvina 2010 (Hilltops, NSW)

Hentley Farm Zinfandel 2013 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Kirrihill Nebbiolo 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

McIvor Estate Nebbiolo 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Mount Burrumboot Sangiovese 2009 (Heathcote, Vic)

Pizzini Nebbiolo 2010 (King Valley, Vic)

Pizzini Sangiovese 2012 (King Valley, Vic)

Salena Estate Montepulciano 2012 (Riverland, SA)

Shelmerdine Willoughby Bridge Nebbiolo 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

The Islander Estate The Islander Sangiovese 2012 (Kangaroo Island, SA)

Stefani Estate Boccalupo Sangiovese 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Vigna Bottin Sangiovese 2011 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Yarrh Sangiovese 2012 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Other Red Varieties and Blends (57 Tasted, 24 Recommendations, 0 Gold Medal Standard)

This diverse category includes varieties not included elsewhere (such as Tannat, Gamay, Saperavi and Pinot Meunier), and also other red blends (notably Shiraz Cabernet). 

Gold Medal Standard

None awarded

Silver Medal Standard

Bailey’s of Glenrowan Durif 2012 (Glenrowan, Vic)

Cobaw Ridge Lagrein 2010 (Macedon Ranges, Vic)

Glaetzer Anaperenna Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Katnook Estate The Caledonian Shiraz Cabernet 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Massena Howling Dog Petite Sirah 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Matariki Quintology Merlot Syrah Cabernets Malbec 2007 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Sally’s Paddock (Cabernets Shiraz) 2012 (Pyrenees, Vic)

Wendouree Shiraz Malbec 2010 (Clare Valley, SA)

Bronze Medal Standard

All Saints Durif 2011 (Rutherglen, Vic)

Ballendean Estate Messing About Saperavi 2012 (Granite Belt, Qld)

Coolangatta Estate Grown Tannat 2011 (Shoalhaven Coast, NSW)

Deonte Estate 512 Shiraz Cabernet 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Deonte Estate 553 Merlot Cabernet Shiraz 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)

Jim Barry Brothers Shiraz Cabernet 2013 (Clare Valley, SA)

Lindeman’s Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Coonawarra, SA)

Massena Primitivo 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Massena Saperavi 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Massena Tannat 2012 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Mia Valley Estate Mia Mia Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Heathcote, Vic)

Milvine Estate Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Rutherglen Estates Renaissance Durif 2009 (Rutherglen, Vic)

Sorrenberg Gamay 2013 (Beechworth, Vic)

Te Mata Estate Gamay Noir 2013 (Hawke’s Bay, NZ)

Waimea Trev’s Other Red Wine (Cab Franc Syrah Viognier) 2012 (Nelson, NZ)

Two Hands Never Tear Us Apart Saperavi 2013 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Most Recommended Other Wine Styles 2014

Botrytis Wines (23 Tasted, 11 Recommendations, 4 Gold Medal Standard)

This category is for ‘sticky’ white wines with heavy botrytis (noble rot) rather than a small touch as in off-dry Rieslings. The Riverina in NSW is well suited to making the more lush style with Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer or oddities such as Taminga. The bright lemony acids of the best examples cut through the cloyness that lesser examples often exhibit. The style from cooler regions in Tasmania and New Zealand is less intense and more commonly in a Sauterne (sweet Bordeaux) style. Special mention must be made of extraordinary Dessert Gewurztraminer from Vinoptima.

Gold Medal Standard

Framingham F Series Beerenauslese Riesling 2012 (Marlborough, NZ)

Petaluma Essence Botrytis Semillon 2010 (Coonawarra, SA)

Vinoptima Noble Dessert Gerwurztraminer 2007 (Gisborne, NZ)

Tohu Raiha Reserve Noble Riesling 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Silver Medal Standard

Ciaverella Oxley Estate Noble Aucerot 2010 (King Valley, Vic)

DiGiorgio Lucindale Botrytis Semillon 2011 (Limestone Coast Zone, SA)

Giesen The Brothers Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, NZ)

Lerida Estate Lake George Botrytis Pinot Gris 2012 (Canberra, ACT/NSW)

Josef Chromy SGR Delikat Riesling 2012 (Northern Tas)

Bronze Medal Standard

Oakridge Botrytis Riesling 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Riesling 2011 (Canterbury, NZ)

Ice, Late Harvest, Cordon or Cane Cut, Sun-Dried (20 Tasted, 11 Recommendations, 0 Gold Medal Standard)

This is for the various ways of making a sweet wine without resorting to using botrytised fruit. These are some of the best examples although my scores reflect that they tend to lack enough complexity when compared to the very best botrytis wines.

Gold Medal Standard

None awarded

Silver Medal Standard

Cable Bay Waiheke Island Late Harvest Viognier 2012 (Auckland, NZ)

Clovely Estate Polyphemus Passito Shiraz 2012 (South Burnett, Qld)

Hobbs of Barossa Ranges Gregor Shiraz 2010 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Bronze Medal Standard

Ballendean Estate Late Harvest Sylvaner 2012 (Granite Belt, Qld)

Bianchet Verduzzo Dolce 2009 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Flaxman Semillon (Cordon Cut) Dessert 2013 (Eden Valley, SA)

Hugo Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Juniper Estate Cane Cut Riesling 2011 (Margaret River, WA)

Medhurst Frances Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 2012 (Clare Valley, SA)

Wild Dog Ice Riesling 2012 (West Gippsland, Vic)

Rose (51 Tasted, 17 Recommendations, 1 Gold Medal Standard)

Rose is making a come-back with savoury, dry and textural styles I prefer replacing the sweeties that put so many of us off the style. I still think that too many wine-makers are trying to make dry Rose in the style and mouth feel of a white wine (with some blush colour).  The great French Roses of Bandol or Taval have their own distictive plush Rose mouthfeel. Fortunately there are a few winemakers (such as Hunter Valley's Krinkewood and Hawke's Bay's Craggy Range) who are evoking serious Provenance-style Rose. I tried a lot of Pinot Rose but most lack enough complexity.

Gold Medal Standard

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Rose 2014 (Hawke's Bay, NZ)

Silver Medal Standard

Dominique Portet Fontaine Rose 2014 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Golden Ball a la provencale Rose 2012 (Beechworth, Vic)

Krinklewood Biodynamic Francesca Rose 2013 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Spinifex Rose 2014 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Wooing Tree Rose 2014 (Central Otago, NZ)

Bronze Medal Standard

Bird In Hand Pinot Rose 2014 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Cape Jaffa La Lune Rose de Syrah 2013 (Mount Benson, SA)

Chapel Hill Il Vescovo Sangiovese Rose 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Eastern Peake Pinot Tache 2013 (Ballarat, Western Victorian Zone)

Eminence Le Peche Mignon Pinot Meunier Rose 2013 (King Valley, Vic)

Foster e Rocco Rose 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Ngeringa Rose 2013 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Sanguine Estate Rose 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Shelmerdine Willoughby Bridge Rose 2013 (Heathcote, Vic)

Sutton Grange Fairbank Rose 2013 (Bendigo, Vic)

Vigna Bottin Rosato 2013 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Vinea Marson Rose 2012 (Heathcote, Vic)

Willow Bridge Estate Dragonfly Rose 2013 (Geographe, WA)

Fortifieds (35 Tasted, 16 Recommendations, 7 Gold Medal Standard)

The market for fortifieds, once the mainstream of both the Australian and New Zealand wine industry has shrunk massively. However, there are some fantastic world class old vine relics such as the Rutherglen Muscats and Topaques (the new name for Tokay), Hunter Valley Madeira-style, Barossa sherries (now called Apera) and ports (now called fortified plus the name of the variety). The exceptional John Kosovich Rare Muscat is the flag bearer for WA fortifieds although not tasted this review cycle.

Gold Medal Standard

Bailey’s of Glenrowan Rare Old Muscat NV (Glenrowan, Vic)

Bailey’s of Glenrowan Rare Old Topaque NV (Glenrowan, Vic)

Campbells Grand Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Vic)

Campbells Grand Topaque NV (Rutherglen, Vic)

Chambers Rosewood Rare Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Vic)

Morris Rare Liqueur Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Vic)

Penfolds Grandfather Old Liqueur Tawny NV (Barossa Valley, SA)

Silver Medal Standard

Ballendean Estate Josephine Liqueur Muscat 1986 (Granite Belt, Qld)

Crabtree Watervale Liqueur Grand Muscat NV (Clare Valley, SA)

Seppeltsfield 21 Year Old Para 1993 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Bronze Medal Standard

Bleasdale The Wise One Grand Fortified Verdelho NV (Langhorne Creek, SA)

Burnbrae Liqueur Muscat NV (Mudgee, NSW)

Campbells Classic Rutherglen Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Vic)

Kalleske JMK Shiraz VP 2013 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Kay Brothers Grand Liqueur Muscat NV (McLaren Vale, SA)

Woodstock MV Very Old Fortified (McLaren Vale, SA)

Red, Pink and White Sparklings (73 Tasted, 32 Recommendations, 2 Gold Medal Standard)

Northern Tasmania, Adelaide Hills (plus an outstanding sparkling from Fleurieu Peninsula) and southern Victoria continue to be the sources of the best Australian white sparklings, with the list rounded out with some good sparkling reds from the Barossa and Bendigo and fresh Prosecco from the King Valley. There are some dry sparklings coming out of New Zealand that avoid the excessive tropical fruit flavours. The very best wines have had extended lees contact over several years to build complexity and also avoided excess dosage (but enough to balance the acids).

Gold Medal Standard

Jansz Late Disgorged 2005 (Northern Tas)

Mosquito Hill Blanc de Blancs 2010 (Southern Fleurieu, SA)

Silver Medal Standard

Akarua Vintage Brut 2010 (Central Otago, NZ)

Castagna Sparking Genesis (Syrah) 2008 (Beechworth, Vic)

Clover Hill Cuvee Exceptionalle Blanc de Blancs 2008 (Northern Tas)

Deviation Road Loftia Vintage Brut 2011 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Domaine Chandon Vintage Blanc de Blancs 2009 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Elgee Park Cuvee Brut 2010 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Eminence Assemblage 2010 (King Valley, Vic)

Grampians Estate Rutherford Sparkling Shiraz 2010 (Grampians, Vic)

House of Arras Sparkling Rose 2004 (Northern Tas)

Jansz Blanc de Blanc Vintage 2008 (Northern Tas)

Peter Lehman Black Queen Sparking 2009 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Rockford Black Shiraz NV (Barossa Valley, SA)

Tohu Rewa Traditionelle Blanc de Blanc 2011 (Marlborough, NZ)

Yarrabank Cuvee 2010 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Bronze Medal Standard

Ashton Hills Blanc de Blanc 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Ashton Hills Salmon Brut 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Balgownie Estate Sparkling Shiraz 2013 (Bendigo, Vic)

Brown Brothers Limited Release Prosecco 2013 (King Valley, Vic)

Clover Hill Exceptionalle Rose 2008 (Northern Tasmania)

Clover Hill Vintage Brut 2008 (Northern Tasmania)

Dal Zotto Puccino Prosecco 2014 (King Valley, Vic)

Delamere Blanc de Blancs 2008 (Northern Tas)

Johnson Oakbank Christina Sparkling 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Luke Lambert Sparkling Chardonnay 2011 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

O’Leary Walker Hurtle Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Pizzini Prosecco 2013 (King Valley, Vic)

Seville Estate Blanc de Blancs Sparkling 2011 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Stefano Lubiana Estate Sparkling NV (Southern Tas)

Whispering Hills Premium Cuvee NV (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Supplement: Under $20 Commercial Wine Bargains

After many requests I have added a supplement to my varietal/style listing of recommendations. This is for the many wine lovers with a limited budget, don't who have easy access to an independent, fine wine store to get hold wines from small, boutique wineries, or just want to have some reliable, any day wines on hand when friends drop around spontaneously. My rules for this section is that they are wines I'm happy to drink with friends informally (ie not wine dinners), that I have bought them recently for under $20 (even if the official recommended price might be just over), and that they are widely available in the major Australian retail chains. All the listed wines have a track record of being consistent performers across vintages.

All Saints Rutherglen Tokay NV (Rutherglen, Vic)

Barwang Cabernet Sauvignon (Hilltops, NSW)

Bleasdale Bremerview Shiraz (Langhorne Creek, SA)

Brown Brothers Sparkling Prosecco NV (King Valley, Vic)

Brown Brothers Tempranillo (King Valley, Vic)

Charles Cimicky Trumps Shiraz (Barossa Valley, SA)

D'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz (McLaren Vale, SA)

De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley, Vic)

De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Grigio (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Hayshed Hill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (Margaret River, WA)

Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Morris Liqueur Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Vic)

O’Leary Walker Cabernet Sauvignon (Clare Valley, SA)

Pewsey Vale Riesling (Eden Valley, SA)

Pizzini Sparkling Prosecco NV (King Valley, Vic)

Plantagenet Mount Barker Riesling (Great Southern, WA)

Quattro Mano Pinta Duende (blend of Portuguese varieties and Cinsault) (Barossa Valley, SA)

Schild Estate Old Bush Vine Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz (Barossa Valley, SA)

Tahbilk Marsanne (Goulburn Valley, Vic)

Tim Adams Riesling (Clare Valley, SA)

Thorn-Clarke Barossa Quartage (Bordeaux variety blend) (Barossa Valley, SA)

Turkey Flat Rose (Barossa Valley, SA)

Verse One Cabernet Merlot (Margaret River, WA)

Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ)

Yalumba Running With Bulls Vermentino (Riverland, SA)

Yalumba Y Series Viognier (Eden Valley, SA)

Yalumba Y Series Pinot Grigio (Eden Valley, SA)







golden grove


























tin pot












murray stret



















































del rios












robert channon



























howard park



























jim barry






lethbridge barrel









sallys paddock






hahndorf hill


















burke wills









summitt lisa






wirra bottle



melisa at karina









eastern peake












plunkett vines












plunkett vines