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: Best's

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Best's

www.bestswines.com

111 Best's Rd, Great Western, 3377

Cellar Doors:

Concongella

Mon-Sat/Pub Hol (10 - 5), Sun (11-4)

Ph:(03) 5356 2250

St.Andrews (Lake Boga, Swan Hill)

Mon-Fri (10 -4)

Ph:(03) 5037 2678

Best's wines from the Swan Hill region (NSW/Vic)

cellar door building
'The Stables" Best's Concongella 1860s cellar door (photo:genxywines)
label

Best's is one of the region's two surviving historic winery dating back to the 1860s.

The Best brothers (Joseph and Henry), were born in Surrey and sailed with their parents to Van Dieman's land. In the 1850s they came to Ararat where they were unsuccessful in their gold fossicking activities. They made their money by setting up a meat wholesaling company.

Inspired by the success of the St. Peters winery the brothers decided that wine-making was the way to expand their small fortune. Joseph set up what was to become Seppelt Great Western, while Henry cleared some land on the banks of Concongella Creek to begin Best's.

To find out what would work best in the area, Henry planted every vine variety he could find. To this day the so called 'fruit salad' block of Henry Best's trial plantings (including cuttings from James Busby's Sydney collection) continue to baffle amelographers who are still struggling to classify some of this unique array of obscure or extinct 18th and 19th century vine varieties.

Best settled on making his wine from Frontignac, Burgundy (Pinot), Esparte, Hermitage (Shiraz), Black Prince, Muscatel, Malbec, Sweetwater and Chasselas. His style was for light-bodied, elegant table wines that later became so out of fashion during the fortified wine era.

Best's son continued the wine-making tradition after Henry's death in 1913. In 1920 the winery was sold to the Thompson family. The fourth and fifth generation of wine-making Thompsons are at the helm now and continue to make elegant medium bodied reds.

The orginal 21-hectare Concongella vineyard enjoys a mild climate. The newest, 22-hectare Salvation Hills Vineyard also in the Great Western region, is slightly cooler. A third, 28- hectare, St. Andrew's vineyard, lies 237 km further north near Lake Boga in the Swan Hill region and has a warm, temperate climate.

The dense and lush Bin 0 Shiraz and Thompson Family Shiraz usually competes with Seppelts St Peters Shiraz for the title as the region's best red wine.

Those looking for something lighter and a bit different should try the table-style Pinot Meunier (normally used in sparkling blends) or a Dolcetto sourced from the 1860s vines in the Nursery Block.

If you are visiting the cellar door it is well worth doing the walking tour of the old cellars.

old cellars
Part of the historic Concongella Cellar Walk (photo:genxywines)
inside
Inside the cellar door, contructed from river red gum slabs (photo:genxywines)
clay
Display of the old clay bottles that Best's wines were stored in during the 19th century before the era of glass bottles. (photo:genxywines)
Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

New reviews

Bestís Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2015

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2027+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2016, focussed and firmish red cherry, blackberry and plum with white pepper, eucalypt, liquorice and a touch of sarsaparilla, medium-full bodied with vibrant acidity and chalky tannins (****)

Bestís Foudre Ferment Riesling 2015

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2017 or 2024 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2016, wild fermented in large format foudres, off-dry, plump lime, lemon curd and apricot nectar with honey, brown oak spices and cut hay notes rounded and textural (****)

Bestís Bin 0 Shiraz 2013

Purchased: Not ($75)

Drink: 2033

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2015, intensely perfumed and focussed, blackberry and blueberry with anise, pepper and dried herb notes, very long and medium-full bodied with a powdery spine, firm tightly wound tannins (*****)

Bestís Foudre Ferment Riesling 2014

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2015, viscous and rounded lime cordial, hay and apricot nectar with spice and honeysuckle notes, off-dry at 13 gms/l residual sugar and fresh grapefruit acidity, would have like to seem more succulent freshness (****)

Bestís Bin 0 Shiraz 2012

Purchased: Not ($80)

Drink: 2030+

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2015, perfumed and tightly wound backbone of blackberry, cherry and plum with anise and dried herb notes, the palate is juicy, peppery and medium bodied with a savoury finish, lingering powdery tannins and cedar/chocolate/cinnamon oak, elegant and balanced wine with long cellaring potential (*****)

Bestís Old Vine Pinot Meunier 2011

Purchased: Prince Wine Store, Essendon ($54)

Drink: 2023+

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2013, Pinot Meunier is normally used in sparkling wine production but this is in the unusual dry table wine format, there is about a 10% Pinot Noir input as the Pinot Noir vines are mixed in the vineyard with the Pinot Meunier, remarkably both Pinots are from 1868 plantings and so are the oldest pinot vines in the world for both varieties, the Old Vine only comes out in the best years, very aromatic showing glycerolly sour red cherries, blueberries and plums with foresty and savoury complexity, bright violet florals, medium bodied palate opens up down the line to some charcuterie meatiness, the varietal dusty tannins then cut in, vibrant sappy acid spine, a touch of cinnamon/clove oak on the finish, despite the challenging rain events the cool vintage has lifted the aromatics and elegance (*****)

Bestís Bin 0 Shiraz 2010

Purchased: Not ($60)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2013, Trophy for Best Shiraz at National Wine Show 2012, highly perfumed, silky and brightly lit mulberry, blackcurrant and blueberry with violet, mint and musky spice notes, medium bodied, long and peppery with a spine of slaty minerals, open knit gravelly tannins, creamy dark chocolate/cedar/cinnamon/clove oak is fairly assertive at moment and needs time to integrate, lively, sappy acidity (*****)

Bestís Bin 1 Shiraz 2012

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2013, juicy and lithe black cherry, blueberry and dark plums with white pepper, eucalypt and savoury meat notes, medium bodied and linear palate with some fine, dusty tannic grip and some cedar/chocolate oak, well balanced medium term cellaring prospect (****)

Bestís Great Western Riesling 2013

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2013, marginally off-dry at 9 gms/l residual sugar, brightly flavoured lime, melon and passionfruit with white flower and rose petal florals, some musky spices, chalky texture, fine phenolics and a touch of wet slate on the finish, has good length in a fairly open style reflecting the warm, early vintage (****)

Bestís Great Western Pinot Gris 2011

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2013, first release, from a local grower south of Concingella vineyard, this shows bright and fresh lemon sherbert fruit alongside the varietal apples and pears, lightly creamy with powdery phenolics and good natural acidity (****)

Bestís Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2013, perfumed and firmish cassis and boysenberry with violet, sage and eucalypt notes, medium bodied with good length and sappy, slightly green edged acidity, slaty minerals with chewy, grainy tannins and toasty vanilla/cinnamon oak (***1/2)

Bestís Chardonnay 2011

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2018+

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2013, Trophy for Best Current Vintage Chardonnay at Sydney Royal Wine Show 2013, no malo, partial stainless ferment, early picked style from a cold vintage so it is taut and minerally but unlike many others from this vintage it also has enough concentration and length, lemon rind, melon and nectarine with quinine-like phenolics and well integrated toasty cashew/vanilla oak, crunchy grapefruit acidity (****1/2)

Bestís Great Western Riesling 2012

Purchased: Blackhearts and Sparrow, Brunswick ($28)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2013, already developing a golden edged hue, seems a little fuller, forward and more developed than usual with plump green apple and lime with rose petal and brown spice notes, fairly developed honeysuckle aspects, there is a touch of residual sugar on the finish that is largely masked by the fresh lemon acids, ready to drink now (***1/2)

Bestís Bin 0 Shiraz 2009

Purchased: Not ($60)

Drink: 2021+

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2011, Gold Medal at Adelaide Wine Show 2011, a January heatwave severely reduced the yield and led to a more concentrated wine than the 2008, some whole bunch ferment, aromatic and medium-full bodied mulberry, blackcurrant and blackberry with blueberry and violet notes, long and peppery with a slaty mineral undercarriage, open knit gravelly tannins mingle alongside the dark chocolate/cedar/cinnamon oak and the lively and slightly stalky acidity (****1/2)

Bestís Thompson Family Reserve Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($145)

Drink: 2022

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2011, predominantly from 140 year old vines from the vineyardís historic Concongella clone, heady and concentrated core of blackberry, blueberry and blood plum with roast meat, violet and black pepper notes, minerally and medium-full bodied, unfolds seamlessly to the toasty cedar/clove/chocolate oak and web of fine grained tannin, a touch of pruney over-ripeness on the finish (a product of the late vintage heatwave) drops this below the very best vintages (****1/2)

Bestís House Block Riesling 2010

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2022+

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2011, the wine (along with the Bin 0 Shiraz) that took winemaker Adam Wadewitz to the Young Guns of Wine finals, a confident Kabinett off-dry style with 16 gms/litre residual sugar, floral and highly perfumed with generous lime marmalade, apple and passionfruit with citrus blossom, ginger and cinnamon notes, talcy texture with lingering phenolics and pristine natural balancing acidity bringing racy grapefruit rind notes to the finish, will develop for at least another decade so put at least one away in the cellar (*****)

Bestís Great Western Bin No.0 Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($A55)

Drink: 2020+

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, Trophy for Best Shiraz at Royal Sydney Wine Show 2010, quite fragrant, supple and medium bodied mulberry, black cherry and blackberry with flashes of blueberry and violet, long and focussed palate is peppery with attractive ironstone minerality, open knit gravelly tannins with a touch of dark chocolate/cedar/cinnamon oak, tightly packed and classy cool climate style (****1/2)

Bestís Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Purchased: Not ($A25)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, perfumed and medium bodied blackcurrant, prune and raspberry with menthol, black pepper, herb and liquorice notes, firm palate has good line and length and finishes with fine dusty tannins and not too obtrusive toasty cedar oak, the issue is that it shows some simultaneous under-ripe and over-ripe elements (***1/2)

Bestís Great Western Bin No.1 Shiraz 2009

Purchased: Not ($A22)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, early drinking entry style showing juicy redcurrant and dark plum with white pepper and mint notes, smooth and medium bodied with a touch of underlying rhubarb earthiness, open knit dusty tannins and some cedar-chocolate oak (***)

Bestís Thompson Family Reserve Shiraz 2006

Purchased: Not ($140)

Drink: 2020+

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2010, a heady, dense and seamless wine showing a supple core of black cherry, blood plum and blackberry fruit with savoury roast meat complexity and liquorice and black pepper notes, earthy and medium-full bodied palate with dusty cedar/clove/dark chocolate, the acidity and firm, chewy web of tannins is well judged for long haul cellaring, the strong vintage for the region has lifted this to above some recent releases (*****)

Bestís Great Western Riesling 2010

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2011 or 2018 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2010, a bounce back vintage from the last 3 drought years, perfumed and tangy lime rind, apple and peach with musk and jasmine notes, chalky phenolics with a wet stone and grapefruit acidity, has the focus and drive I havenít seen in their Riesling since at least 2006 (****)

Bestís Great Western Dolcetto 2009

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, partly sourced from the oldest Dolcetto vines in Australia, the 1860s Nursery Block vines, with some more recent 1971 vines grown from cuttings of the original vines, fairly dry (despite Dolcetto meaning sweet) and medium bodied red cherry and plum with some light spice, a streak of regional minerality and fine savoury tannins, low acid and low alcohol (12.5%), the variety almost never leads to a great wine in Australia but this is one of the best balanced, drink soon (****)

Bestís Great Western Liqueur Tokay NV

Purchased: Not ($30)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, intense, viscous, spicy and treacly christmas cake, butterscotch, burnt toffee, cumquat and tea with some smoky cedar and well judged lively acid (****)

Best's Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

Purchased: Safeways, St Kilda ($26)

Drink: 2011

Tasting: (GXY) Tasting: May 2010, long, medium bodied and savoury dark plum and mulberry with dried herb, olive and mint nuances, underpinned with graphite minerality, spicy cedar-vanilla oak is infused through the palate but does not dominate, still has some fresh acids and a rounding tannic structure but should be drunk soon (***1/2)

Bestís No.0 Shiraz 2007

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, Gold Medal at Royal Melbourne Wine Show 2009, top effort despite the frost and drought decimation of vineyards in the region, focussed, briary and peppery redcurrant, mulberry, blackberry and dark plum with violet and mint notes, medium bodied but deep set fruit with pronounced ironstone minerality and lingering savoury gravelly tannins, a dab of spicy dark chocolate-cedar on the finish (****1/2)

Bestís Great Western Riesling 2009

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, from the Concongella and Rhymney vinyeards, a bit broad and early developing as reflecting a drought vintage but has penetrating green apple, lime and pear flavours supported by toasty honeysuckle and brown spices, talcy bath powder texture with a lemon sherbert/acid finish (***1/2)

Bestís No.1 Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($27)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, rather ripe mulberry, glazed black cherry and stewed plum with white pepper, glycerolly palate is reliant on charry mocha-chocolate for length, didnít get the frost damage of the 2007 vintage but the heat stress in 2008 is all too evident (***)

Best's Bin No. 0 Great Western Shiraz 2006

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2009, sourced from Concongella vineyards with the oldest vines dating back to 1964, fairly closed and brooding at the moment, medium bodied but deep set with a tight core of blackberry, mulberry and dark plum with violet and mint notes, an assertive backbone of loosely knit gravelly tannins, dark chocolate and clove oak, needs plenty of time to show its best (****)

Best's Great Western Riesling 2008

Purchased: Not ($18)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting:Mar 2009, tangy lime and green apple, slightly confectionary, not particularly intense, good length with some zesty acids, chalky phenolic finish with lemon rind acids (***1/2)

Best's Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2007

Purchased: Not ($27)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2009, rather closed mulberry, plum and redcurrant, medium bodied and white pepper and dried herbs, seems stressed and lacking real depth and finishes a bit hollow, the charry mocha-chocolate oak dominates the back half, fine tannins (***)

Best's Thompson Family Great Western Shiraz 2005

Purchased: Not ($120)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: May 2008, powerful traditional style showing brambly blackberry, mulberry and cassis with clove and iodide notes, meaty and medium-full bodied, handsome toasty oak brings clove, dark chocolate and vanilla flavours, focussed and savoury finish with firm but dusty tannins, long cellaring style (****1/2)

Best's Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz 2004

Purchased: Not ($43)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: July 2007, ripe and dense core of blackcurrant and plum with some sweet red cherry, liquorice, and dried herb, full bodied palate has terrific depth with assertive cedar-vanilla oak to match the power, savoury edge to the firm tannic backbone, needs at least a decade (****1/2)

Best's Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz 2003

Purchased: Not ($49)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: July 2007, very ripe blackcurrant, prune with some sweet liqueur cherry, liquorice, leather and dried herb, medium-full bodied savoury palate is a bit stewed but still is appealing, assertive vanilla oak (****)

Best's Great Western Young Vine Pinot Meunier 2004

Purchased: Not ($39)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2007, strawberry and red cherry overlie herbal and menthol notes, silky light-medium palate with subtle chocolate notes, dusty tannins (***1/2)

Best's Great Western No.1 Shiraz 2004

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2007, black cherry and blackberry with liquorice and leather notes, earthy medium-full bodied palate, sweet choc-vanilla oak, dusty tannins (***1/2)

Best's Great Western Chardonnay 2001

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2006, ripe peach and melon aromas with hint of lemon sherbert and oatmeal, forward palate shows other citrus flavours, vanilla oak, needs some time to settle (***1/2)

Best's Great Western Pinot Noir 2001

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2006

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2006, sweet raspberry and red cherry with a hint of musc and spice, assertive acids, drink now style (***)

Best's Victoria Late Harvest Muscat 2004

Purchased: Not ($13)

Drink: 2006

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2006, floral nose leads to sweet grapey and rose petal with honey and musc, balanced acid finish (***)

Best's Great Western Riesling 2005

Purchased: Not ($21)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2006, subtle floral and minerally nose also showing green apple and lime, some fruit intensity and acid is quite soft, crisp finish, just enough mineral backbone to hold interest but Best's have done better (***1/2)

Best's Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Purchased: Not ($15)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2006, nose shows ripe cherries and cassis, fruity palate is well integrated with French oak, lingering finish, an uncomplicated food wine suitable for kangaroo or lamb dishes (***)

Best's Great Western Pinot Noir 1998

Purchased: Safeways, St. Kilda ($23)

Drink: 2003

(GXY) Tasting: May 2003, slightly candied due to sweet red cherry, has prominent plum presence as well, has some interesting musky spices, earthy, and bright acidity on the finish (***)

Best's Pinot Meunier 1998

Purchased: Yes

Drink: 2004

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2001, referred to as "Millers Burgundy" in Henry Best's daily journal, these original Concongella vines are considered amongst the oldest vines in Australia, spicy and peppery with cherry and plum aroma with hint of fresh basil, firmish and juicy palate reflects same with additional hint of eucalypt, finishes a tad too sweet for me (***1/2)

Best's Great Western Riesling 2001

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2005

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2001, tight with limey and tropical fruit aromas, refreshing on the palate with flavours of pear, apple, and lime and crisp lemon acid finish (***)