The best wines from a great year
In my previous post on Chateau Chunder Beating Burgundy at it’s own game, I talked about the lucky country we live in.
Lucky in that we can buy wines of real quality for twenty dollars give or take
a couple, wines that are virtually hand-made made by some of our best
winemakers from individual vineyards. Hard to believe, I know.
A few of my followers wrote to me
suggesting I do piece summarizing these bargains. Given that it’s November, I
thought a Best Wines of the Year post was the best way of doing that. I’ve
included the latest updates, and have stuck to our $25 ceiling but
haven’t divided the wines into 10/15 or 20 dollar subgroups. You can access those lists via the Most Popular Posts in the sidebar on the right.
Where wines are no longer available, I’ve made that very clear. I’ve also flagged those that are in short supply.
9 – an outstanding wine, a great example of its style and origin
8 – a fine wine that delivers more than you'd exepct
7 – a good, enjoyable wine punching above its price
6 – a solid wine you can rely on at any time
5 – a decent, well-made wine with some authentic flavour
The Short List
Best Sauvignon Blanc: Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Best Riesling: O'Leary Walker Watervale Riesling 2012
Best Chardonnay: Mountadam High Eden Chardonnay 2010
Best Semillon: Tyrrells HVD Semillon 2006
Best Gewuerztraminer: Huia Gewuerztraminer 2009
Best Pinot Noir: TarraWarra Pinot Noir 2010
Best Cabernet Sauvignon: Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Best Cabernet Merlot: Amberley Secret Lane Cabernet Merlot 2010
Best Shiraz: Teusner The Riebke Shiraz 2010
Best GSM: Teusner Avatar 2010
Best Rose: Turkey Flat
Best Bubbly: Pelorus NV
Best Sticky: Westend 3 Bridges Golden Mist Botrytis 2010
Best Fortified: Bethany Old Quarry Fronti
The full List
Best Whites of 2012
Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – $13, Kemenys – score: 7
Herbaceous, flinty gooseberry style. Flavour, depth and length. The 2011 is now perfect drinking. Summer drinking, serious bargain.
Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2010 - $23.50, WineSnob – score: 8+
An object lesson to all those winemakers in Marlborough who've lost it. It’s expensive but worth the money, it’s a 2010 but still going strong
A radical departure from the sweet & sour bastard Marlborough style, lean and acid, herbaceous and complex. Still evolving. Bargain.
Huia Gewuerztraminer 2009 - $23 at 1st Choice - score 8+
I like Gewurz, and the Kiwis make great examples. This is one of the best. 3 years old and ready to drink. Bath powder and hair oil on the nose, lychees and Turkish Delight on the palate, all held together by a long finish. Big and rich savoury style
Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 2012 – $14.20, Dan M – score: 9
A vibrant Riesling from a great vintage, floral, delicate, wonderful length. Like most 2012 Rieslings from Clare, it’s enjoyable already but will improve for 5-8 years. Bargain
Mitchell Watervale Riesling 2011/2012 - $18, Dan M, score: 9
favourite. The style is a little fuller and more flavorsome than most Clare Rieslings, which I really
like. The 2012 is about to hit the shelves. It will be as good or better. Buying direct from the winery is an option.
O'Leary Walker Watervale Riesling 2012 - $17, Dan M – score: 9 +
Perhaps the finest of the 2012 Rieslings from Watervale I’ve tasted so far. Typical floral, delicate fruit plus a touch of extra finesse and length.
Pewsey Vale Riesling 2012 - $15, Kemenys - score: 9
Another great 2012 Riesling at a bargain price, proving that it was a great year in Eden Valley as well. Almost Germanic delicacy to the fruit, lovely length typical of the area. Ridiculous value.
Pewsey Vale Riesling 2006, Eden Valley
- $19, Dan M Cellar Release – score: 9 +
Dan M now does what Lindemans used to do long ago. Brilliant wine with more years to go, very fair price if you like old Rieslings. Dan M still has some left online
It's rare to find a six-year
old Chardy, and this one's affordable as well. More nutty and oaky than fruity and crisp, as you'd expect at this age. Still availble on line.
Hoddles Creek Chardonnay 2011 - $19, Winestar, MyCellars – score: 9 -
As good as
some Chardys twice its price, oak a little obvious right now but the fruit is there to add plenty of life. Give it another year or two.
Mountadam High Eden Chardonnay 2010, $25, Winestar score: 9 +
Stunning, complex, classy, rich and full, no grapefruit here, just white peaches and cashews and classy oak that's well integrated. Punches way above its price. Beat the best Australian Chardonnays in a tasting run by Andrew Jefford, Anthony Rose and Jancis Robinson (The World of Fine Wine). Back up the ute. I can’t believe this is still available.
I’m not a great fan of modern Hunter Valley Semillon, but to show my generosity I've included a wine everyone else thinks is a corker. Six years old but still needs years in the cellar.
Best Reds of 2012
TarraWarra Pinot Noir 2010 - $19, 1st Choice Liquor – score: 8 +
current release Pinot Noir under $25 in my view. There's good colour, a Burgundian nose, authentic flavour and lfine length. Unlike most Pinots in this price range, it will improve for another year or two.
42° South Pinot Noir 2008 - $22, Dan M's - score: 8 +
From Frogmore Creek in Tassie this is Burgundian from its nose to its toes. Lovely drinking now but no longer available. The 2009 is not quite in the same class.
Hidden Label Margaret River Cabernet 2009 - $11, Kemenys – score: 7 +
This is Capel Vale's $18 Regional Selection Margaret River Cabernet under a Hidden label. Gets 94 from JH and Andrew Graham at ozwinereview. I’m not quite that keen but it's terrific value for money. Medium bodied, elegant, great bargain for everyday drinking.
Seppelt Grampians Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - $15, Dan M Cellar Release - score: 8
A real sleeper: medium bodied, soft and gentle, mature Cabernet, easy on the gums. Still available online at Dan M's. Silly price.
Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - no longer available.
The best Wynns black label in a long time, a classic example of the elegant, restrained Coonawarra style, with less overt ripness and more refinement than usual. At one point you could buy this wine for as little as $19.
Leconfield Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 - $25, Kemenys - score: 9 -
Not exactly old style Coonawarra Cabernet - richer, riper, more voluptuous. 14.5%. If you like that style, this is a great red. If you're
not fussed about labels, buy the Hidden Label Coonawarra Cabernet 2010 for $18 instead.
This was the red bargain of the year - classy, tasty, elegant, well-made Margaret River Cabernet Merlot for $13 a bottle. Hard to believe.
Woodlands Margaret River Cabernet
Merlot 2009 - no longer available
Great style, brooding complexity with depth and length - Pomerol at a bargain price. 13.5% No longer available, and the 2010 isn’t quite at the same level in my view.
Thorn Clarke Quartage 2009 – no longer available
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot from Eden Valley. Spends over 12 months in French and American oak, offers opulent cassis and blackberry fruit in a medium body. Great depth and length with a long finish that holds it all together. The 2010 offers similar fruit without the same length and depth.14%.
Nugan Estate Alcira Vineyard Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 - $18, Kemenys - score: 8 +
An impressive Cabernet with lovely cassis fruit and fine French oak, 4 years old and lovely drinking but will develop for a few more years. 95 from JH
Devils Lair Hidden Cave Cabernet Shiraz 2010 - $19, 1St Choice – score: 8 +
As good as
it gets - pristine fruit, gentle oak, perfect balance, polished, medium bodied,
lots of goodies in perfect harmony. You just want to drink more of it. Very
classy for a commercial red made in fair volumes. 14%. Be quick - the 2011 is rolling in.
A Shiraz Grenache at the elegant end of the spectrum, great balance, real sleeper. Give it time to breathe and open up. 13.5%
Teusner The Independent Shiraz Mataro 2010 - $18, MyCellars – score: 9 -
A 50/50 blend sourced from ancient vines in the Northern Barossa - Ebenezer, Kalimna and Moppa. A top example of this style, full of red fruits and spices – how does Kym Teusner do it for the money? 14.5% but hides it well. Don’t keep this too long.
Teusner The Riebke Shiraz 2010 - $19, Winestar – score: 9
Sourced from ancient vines off a single vineyard owned by the Riebke brothers. Enormous concentration, depth and richness. 14.5%. Same comment and question as above. Will last many years. Unbelievable value.
Teusner Avatar 2010 - $24.95, Kemenys or MyCellars – score: 9 +
As good as Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre gets, and not over-the-top big but with plenty of goodies. Rich fruit in the plum spectrum with hints of raspberries. Complexity, balance, silky tannins, lovely mouthfeel. Ridiculous value. 14.5%
Please note: There are 3 Teusner wines on this list because they deserve to be here. These are exceptional wines at ridiculous prices and, if haven’t already, it’s time to back up the ute and grab the last of the exceptional 2010 vintage.
Turkey Flat Grenache Rose 2011 - $17, Kemenys – score: 7+
A standard bearer for quality Rose. Not my cup of tea but the young ones love it.
Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV - $25, Winestar – score: 9 –
At last a bubbly that isn’t carbonated lemon and apple juice. This is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes sourced from the Wairau Valley in Marlborough, NZ. Full-bodied, rich and creamy, nutty and yeasty, mature and complex. You just want to drink more of it. Terrific bargain, better than many cheap champagnes.
Seriously rich dessert wine offering apricot and orange marmalade flavours. Decadent stuff, better wine than recent Noble Ones and better value.
Bethany Old Quarry Fronti - $20 at Dan M's – score: 8+
A lovely old Frontignac / Muscat and Pedro Ximines from the Barossa. Quite clean and elegant. Very morish. Somehwere between an Oloroso Sherry and a Muscat.