The 50 Best Wines of 2018
Australia’s 50 best wines as judged by Wine Selectors’ expert Tasting Panel is a pretty good overview of Australian wine. It’s an independent assessment of what we believe are the best of the best. We’ve blind sampled 4000+ wines over the last 12 months and the results, as always, are compelling. While quality is the determining factor, it’s interesting to see that price can be largely irrelevant and the spread of regions indicates almost all our Geographic Indicators (GI) are producing seriously good wines. This is what impressed us.
Congratulations to all the producers of the 2018 Top 50 wines.
Josef Chromy Zdar Chardonnay 2012
Tasmania, RRP $75
This Tasmanian Chardonnay was fermented then matured for 12 months in French oak. The resulting wine exudes peaches and cream, sweet fruit and oak aromas with touches of honeyed development, nougat and flinty reduction. Mealy and textural, it’s deliciously nutty, dry and savoury. Youthful yet so complex, it has oyster shell minerality and vibrant acidity.
Kirrihill Clarevale Shiraz 2016
Clare Valley, RRP $22
Every single wine from Kirrihill we’ve seen this year has delighted us. They should be high on the list for anyone who loves Clare Valley wines. This Shiraz impresses with aromas of pot pourri, black olive, blackcurrant, earth and mocha. Plush and generous, it has a massive core of black fruit with hints of raspberry, cedar and black pepper. The tannins are deep and long, yet remain graceful with a touch of elegance through to the long finish.
Watershed Awakening Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Margaret River, RRP $89.95
Unlike many other regions in Australia, the 2011 vintage was a cracker in Margaret River and this Cabernet reaped the benefits, winning Gold medals at the 2013 Royal Melbourne Wine Show and 2014 Mundus Vini International Wine Show. A distinguished aged red, its acidity is still fresh with a lovely tannin foundation driving the integrated core of dark fruit and quality oak.
Simon Lang Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Limestone Coast, RRP $28
You rarely get the chance to taste an aged Sauvignon Blanc, as it’s not a variety that usually cellars well, but here is an amazingly vibrant and fresh 10-year-old example that absolutely wowed the Panel! Featuring lifted fresh, bright white melon and pear aromas, it’s bold and rich with delicious balance of ripe, satiny fruit characters on the palate, which is lifted and long, flowing to a creamy and harmonious finish. Amazingly fresh and bright.
Drayton’s Family Wines Susanne Semillon 2014
Hunter Valley, RRP $60
In years when growing conditions and rainfall have been perfect, Drayton’s oldest vines (100+ years) produce fruit of such intensity and quality that the family bottles and labels these as ultra premium iconic wines. The 2014 Susanne is such a wine. Youthful, light and lithe yet with excellent intensity of flavour, it shows lemongrass, lime zest and nashi pear with intriguing oyster shell.
All Saints Estate Marsanne 2016
Rutherglen, RRP $26
This is a superb example of why you need to stop thinking that Rutherglen is just a region for fortified wine. A gorgeous expression of Marsanne, this 2016 vintage is pale lemon in the glass and displays citrus, fennel and toast aromas. On the palate it’s smooth and juicy with lovely soft acidity and a savoury, almost salty umami throughout. Stonefruit, lemon and oyster shell create a mouth-watering, absolutely delicious wine that’s all about texture.
Richard Hamilton Centurion Shiraz 2017
McLaren Vale, RRP $80
Richard Hamilton has a long history dating back to 1872 and his was one of the first families to establish vineyards in McLaren Vale. An iron fist in a velvet glove, this Shiraz presents lifted currant, cassis, cola and spice aromas. Full-bodied, velvety and round, it has a deep core of black and blue fruit, fine velvety tannins and a long plum pudding-like finish. Lovely now but will cellar well.
Kaesler The Bogan Shiraz 2016
Barossa Valley, RRP $55
Winner of two Trophies at the 2018 Great Australian Shiraz Challenge, this is a classic Barossa Valley expression with power and intensity yet so much polish. Brooding plum, black cherry, mulberry and black pepper aromas lead to a palate that’s concentrated and powerful yet retains a touch of elegance with a fine tannin foundation driving the bright core of dark fruit. Shows attractive savoury spice throughout and a long, generous finish.
Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 2016
Margaret River, RRP $45
One of the biggest names in Margaret River has produced a classic regional Chardonnay full of power and presence. Striking mid-lemon green in the glass, it features aromas of fresh citrus, struck match, sourdough crust and grilled nuts. It’s full-bodied and massively flavoursome with a beautiful mix of finger lime, lemongrass, Spanish melon and cream biscuit, oyster shell minerality and cashew oak.
Lisa McGuigan Chardonnay 2017
Hunter Valley, RRP $30
Crafted with fruit from one of the Hunter Valley’s finest vineyards and made by Liz Jackson, one of Australia’s most awarded winemakers, this Chardonnay is a savoury delight with lifted aromas of white peach, melon and citrus. Mouth-watering with amazingly long flavour extension, it features beautiful texture and a luscious core of fruit framed by lemon zest-like acidity. Bright and vital, it has fabulous generosity of flavour.
Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard 1.5m Chardonnay 2016
Adelaide Hills, RRP $55
The Tiers is one of Australia’s most famous Chardonnay vineyards, the first planted in the Adelaide Hills, pioneering South Australia’s cool climate wine industry. Apple, peach, sourdough and struck match aromas lead to a powerful yet refined and elegant palate with an array of citrus and stonefruit flavours, toasty barrel complexity, fine acidity and a long, poised and vibrant finish.
Helen & Joey Layla Pinot Noir 2017
Yarra Valley, RRP $35
Layla is an ancient Middle Eastern name meaning ‘dark beauty’, relating to the ‘ecstasy of the wine’, that feeling that comes over your body when drinking a beautiful drop. Speaking of which, this Pinot presents strawberry, forest floor and earth aromas. Lovely and textural in a medium weight frame, it has loads of bright red fruits and velvety tannins. Delicate yet rich with an incredibly long and persistent finish.
Morris Classic Liqueur Muscat NV
Rutherglen, RRP $25
Simply one of the country’s most famous names when it comes to fortified wine production and an icon of the Rutherglen region. Deep tawny with an olive green hue, this Liqueur Muscat allures with aromas of sweet raisin, apricot, toffee and butterscotch. The palate is very sweet yet fresh and bright with classic Muscat fruit power and flavours of sweet, dried fruits, chocolate and burnt toffee.
Henschke Peggy’s Hill Riesling 2017
Eden Valley, RRP $25
Henschke showed their prowess by picking up a Trophy and Gold medal for this Riesling at the 2017 Canberra National Wine Show and Gold at the 2017 Royal Adelaide Wine Show. Its attraction starts with its lime, lemon and light floral perfume leading to a pure, pristine palate with a vibrant lemon and lime core, mouth-watering acidity, terrific mouth-feel, poise and purity through to the seamless finish.
Seppelt Salinger Vintage Cuvée 2013
Henty, RRP $30
This Seppelt stunner is the proud winner of a Trophy and four Gold medals from the 2018 Ballarat Wine Show. Pale gold with green freshness in the glass, it has a lightly nutty nose with primary aromas of sourdough and lemon. Tight and dry with lemony flavour depth, mineral intensity and layers of nutty complexity. Showing some developing honeyed oats, but kept fresh by citrussy acidity.
Cofield Reserve Release Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2006
Tumbarumba, RRP $45
There were only 600 individually numbered bottles of this sensational Sparkling made, which spent nine years on yeast lees in the bottle An aged release drinking at its peak, it beguiles with a sweetly honeyed nose with notes of baked apple and brioche. Rich, soft and creamy with almond meal and bread shop complexity, it has stewed apple richness and leesy persistence.
James Haselgrove Futures Shiraz 2016
McLaren Vale, RRP $50
The James Haselgrove Futures Shiraz was first released in 1981 and it’s been impressing ever since. Thirty-five vintages later, it’s a terrifically structured and beautifully drinkable release with lovely plum, beetroot, briar, herb and spice aromas. Plummy and rich, it has a deep core of savoury dark fruit, oyster shell minerality, fine yet intense tannins, stalky energy and savoury oak spice.
Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No 3 2016
Yarra Valley, RRP $110
This is a Portuguese-style Touriga-based blend featuring 45% Touriga Naçional, 28% Tinta Cão, 9% Tinta Roriz, 7% Tinta Amarela, 7% Alvarelhão & 4% Sousão. The result is a Gold Medal winning wine exuding aromas of violets, clove, plum and mulberry. Understated and elegant yet generous, it has a deep yet refined core of black, blue and red fruit flavours, tobacco, clove and spice complexity and fine yet long tannins.
Head Wines Old Vine Grenache 2017
Barossa Valley, RRP $35
Alex Head is one of a small number of winemakers in the Barossa showcasing how the region can do elegance as well as fruit power. His 2017 Grenache is a textbook example of the variety with its currant, cherry and cedar perfume. Generous in style, it has a deep core of cherry and plum fruit, soft, almost creamy texture and beautifully ripe tannins. So well balanced and long.
Tulloch Cellar Door Release Vermentino 2018
Orange, RRP $22
Producing wine for over 120 years, the iconic Tulloch family of the Hunter Valley know a thing or two about how to make a flavour packed white wine. Made from cool climate Orange fruit, this Vermentino shows peach blossom, green apple and sea spray on the nose, while the palate is elegant and pure in a light-bodied frame with mouth-watering, zesty acidity, a refined mix
of white fruit flavours and subtle chalk.
Oakridge Vineyard Series Willowlake Chardonnay 2017
Yarra Valley, RRP $38
David Bicknell is a Chardonnay perfectionist with a passion for terroir and contrasts in the characters of different vineyard sites. Fresh from the Yarra Valley, this classy drop has a pure nose with ripe, complex stonefruit, lees and struck match magic. A complex funky monster that’s satiny soft, it shows tremendous depth and umami with amazingly refined power and balance.
Campbells Marsanne Viognier Roussanne 2017
Rutherglen, RRP $28
Central Victoria continues to excel at this blend of three varieties that hail from France’s Rhône Valley. Combine that with Campbells’ talent and you’ve got a wine with beautifully open aromas of white and yellow flower with honeycomb, yellow melon, orange oil and mandarin. With generous satiny harmony, it’s beautifully long and textural with fine tannin dryness and citrus peel-like lift and length.
Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2013
Eden Valley, RRP $35
This incredible Riesling won a Trophy at the 2013 Barossa Wine Show plus two Gold medals and it’s been awarded ‘Best Riesling in the World’ at the international Wine and Spirit Competition six times. A dry, powerful expression, this remarkable wine has a delicious citrus core, subtle toast and lime curd complexity, wet rock-like minerality and thrilling acidity.
Robert Oatley Great Southern Riesling 2017
Great Southern, RRP $23
This wine set the Tasting Panel alight not to mention the judges at the 2018 National Wine Show, who gave it a Trophy and Gold, and those at the 2018 WA Wine Show, who also gave it Gold. Ripe, fresh, bright and lively, it has an intense core of lime and green apple, fabulous minerality and complexity, and pure, driving acidity. So long and bright - this Riesling is beautiful now but also has a great future.
Andrew Thomas The O.C. Semillon 2018
Hunter Valley, RRP $26
Andrew Thomas is a Hunter Valley loyalist to the core whose love and dedication to the famed Shiraz and Semillon grapes from the region are his true passion. His 2018 vintage Semillon is a perfect example with its fresh lemon, straw and talc aromas. Tight, crisp and lemony, it has hints of fresh herb and cut grass and bright minerally acidity ensuring great ageing potential.
De Bortoli Rosé 2018
King Valley, RRP $20
De Bortoli have crafted a very Euro style Rosé that’s quite complex due to partial barrel fermentation in older oak and extended lees contact. Presenting a pale salmon to onion skin colour, it has subtle cherry and raspberry perfume. Fine, crisp, fresh and fragrant, it presents clean, dry berry fruit with surprising depth and intensity and savoury acidity balancing the palate from start to finish. Considering the beautiful pale colour, it has delicious intensity of flavour.
Swift Cuvée Brut NV
Central Ranges, RRP $40
Without question, Swift are one of the premier Sparkling houses in the country and this Cuveé was voted the best Sparkling in the state at the 2018 NSW Wine Awards. A richer food style, it has a nose of ripe yellow fruit lift with yeast and sourdough notes. Showing rich stonefruit and citrus fruit depth, it has background confectionery and sherbety acidity. Supple and generous with light honeyed notes adding depth.
Mitchell Harris Peerick Vineyard Shiraz 2016
Pyrenees, RRP $35
Pyrenees Shiraz is spice laden and medium bodied style and this Gold medal-winning wine is a classic example. Featuring a touch of Viognier, it exudes a fragrant mix of violet, plum and blueberry aromas with whole bunch stalky spice. Muscular and flavoursome yet refined, the palate is an effortless mix of savoury and sweet fruit elements enhanced with savoury spice. Complex and long with a touch of tannin grip.
McWilliam’s McW Reserve 660 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Hilltops, RRP $25
Winner of Golds at the 2018 Royal Perth and National Wine Shows, this Cabernet comes from McWilliam’s 660 range, named after the metres above sea level in the cool Hilltops region of NSW. Powerful, it displays blackcurrant and blood plum, with terrific freshness, subtle background oak, strong varietal crushed leaf, dried herb and tobacco notes and deep, seamless tannins.
Robert Oatley Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Margaret River, RRP $23
This bold Shiraz has picked up Gold medals at the Sydney International Top 100, as well as the 2018 Brisbane, Adelaide and Cowra Wine Shows. An aromatic nose of cassis, mulberry and bay leaf leads to a rich, bold palate with a deep core of black fruit, subtle varietal mint and herb notes, fine yet assertive tannins, bright acidity and a powerful finish. A sleeping giant with liquorice-like concentration.
Tar & Roses Tempranillo 2017
Heathcote, RRP $24
Given they specialise in Mediterranean varieties, it’s no wonder Tar & Roses have won so many awards, including Top Gold and two Trophies at the 2017 Victorian Wine Show. Strikingly dense red in appearance, it’s an inky powerhouse of black cherry, cola, anise and liquorice. It has a deluxe palate with super-ripe, inky black fruits delivering velvety power and immense tannin depth. An iron fist in a velvet glove.
First Ridge Barbera 2016
Mudgee, RRP $30
First Ridge are dedicated to showcasing Italian varieties grown in their Mudgee vineyard and we think their Barbera is a benchmark for the region. Medium to deep red in the glass, their 2016 vintage features a beautiful nose displaying cherry and currant perfume. The palate is generous, dark and brooding, as you’d expect from a classic expression of the variety, with a massive core of dark fruit, prune and black olive and rich, assertive tannins.
Irvine Spring Hill Merlot 2016
Barossa Valley, RRP $24
Irvine have long been masters of Merlot and this is a perfect example having won a Gold Medal at the China Wine and Spirits Awards. Medium to deep red black in colour, it’s a huge wine with lashings of inky liquorice-like concentration of black cherry, cola and aniseed on the nose. The palate is immense with super-ripe expression of black fruits supported by solid but beautifully polished tannins.
Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2017
Great Southern, RRP $60
Biodynamic and organic vineyard management are practiced with all Marchand & Burch wines, including this beautiful Pinot Noir. Showing a medium density red colour, it has a vibrant and lifted nose of red berry fruit, stalk and forest floor. Juicy and textural, it has gorgeous structure underpinning the red fruit core, long, seamless acidity, charry oak and a seamless finish. Stunning!
Mount Majura Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
Canberra District, RRP $29
Mount Majura Vineyard lies near the top of the Majura Valley, just outside the city of Canberra and has been producing fantastic wines like this 2016 Pinot Noir since 1990. Opening with lovely aromatic detail of red and white strawberry with tangerine lift and charm, it’s a classy wine with ripe yet fine fruits, long and velvety strawberry and cream, and creamy oak support.
Storm Bay Pinot Noir 2018
Tasmania, RRP $25
From a range developed to showcase the best fruit from the best blocks on Nocton Vineyard’s Coal River Valley property, this Pinot Noir also shows the best of a cracking vintage. Bright medium garnet in the glass, it has a nose of raspberry, dark cherry and black pepper aromas. The palate is sweetly fruited with strong cherry and strawberry core depth. Beautifully bright, fragrant and vibrant, it has juicy acidity and velvety texture.
Wicks Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Adelaide Hills, RRP $21
Every year, Wicks Estate produces one of the Tasting Panel’s favourite Sauvignon Blancs of the vintage. They have an amazing vineyard, and winemaker Leigh Ratzmer is a whiz with the variety. Lemon zest and cut grass lead to a bright palate with classic capsicum, gooseberry and lemon pith, sherbety acidity and a long and distinctive finish. Tropical with excellent fruit purity.
Howard Vineyard Rosé 2018
Adelaide Hills, RRP $20
Winemaker Tom Northcott is crazy about Rosé – it’s his favourite wine in the Howard Vineyard porfolio and he spends his free time searching for the world’s best Rosé and dumpling combination! This is a pretty little example with subtle lifted red berry fruit aromas and background lavender. Light and fresh, crisp, dry and savoury, it has clean cherry and blueberry fruit, great depth, crunchy red berry acidity and hints of spice on a long finish.
Nocton Vineyard Sparkling Rosé NV
Tasmania, RRP $34
Made from 100% single clone Pinot Noir, the wines spent 16 months on lees before disgorgement. Colour was added by blending a small portion of dry Pinot Noir before secondary fermentation. The result is an elegant aperitif style with light but savoury red berry aromas, with a twist of lemon. Delicate yet intense with fresh cherry and cranberry fruit flavours and vibrant, minerally acidity.
Woods Crampton Mataro 2016
Barossa Valley, RRP $28
For a long time, Mataro has not enjoyed the limelight it deserves, being blended away, mostly with Grenache. But nowadays, we’re seeing more winemakers like Woods Crampton putting it front and centre. Their 2016 vintage allures with a fragrant mix of plum, dark cherry, tobacco and vanillin oak aromas. Powerful, yet retaining elegance, it has a deep mix of black and purple fruit, sweet and savoury spice and vanillin oak in good balance.
Ferngrove King Malbec 2017
Great Southern, RRP $32
No longer in the shadow of its Bordeaux cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec is shining as a single varietal. Ferngrove have crafted a Gold medal-winner with heady aromas of violets, cola, cherry, juniper and beautifully perfumed oak in support. An iron fist in a velvet glove with powerful black fruit dominance and full tannic extract. Superb barrel work gives delicious texture, depth and harmony on to the long finish.
Delatite Deadman’s Hill Gewürztraminer 2017
Central Victoria, RRP $27
Gewürztraminer thrives in a cool climate and it makes some of the most distinctive and aromatically powerful wines in the world. In keeping, this elegant expression exudes aromas of musk, lychee, apple and nectarine. Flavour-packed and generous, it features loads of varietal depth showing as lychee, apple, musk and ginger with smooth acidity throughout. Intense yet it remains refined.
Yarra Burn Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier 2015
Yarra Valley, RRP $25
This Sparkling is the result of the superb 2015 Yarra Valley vintage and was made by the best Sparkling winemaker in the country, Ed Carr - the man behind the esteemed House of Arras. Generous, quite rich and mealy, it has a mix of stonefruit, grapefruit and sourdough along with complex touches of strawberry, plus toast and musk on the generous finish.
Massena The Moonlight Run Mataro Grenache Shiraz 2017
Barossa Valley, RRP $32
Massena’s wines have all been standouts this year with their unique savouriness. They have that signature Barossa power, but they also use tannin and acidity so well they leave you wanting more! Following plum, blackberry, tobacco and black pepper aromas comes a powerful and expressive palate featuring a lovely mix of fruit and savoury elements, dark fruit and clove and fine, lingering tannins.
Vinrock Grenache 2017
McLaren Vale, RRP $25
Grenache is one of the most adaptable reds, but really thrives in the McLaren Vale region, as this beauty from Vinrock illustrates. Its attraction starts with its deep garnet colour, while the nose presents fragrant dark cherry and raspberry fruit lift. Supple, juicy and ripe, the palate is deliciously soft and savoury yet has terrific vibrancy and freshness, subtle spicy lift and clean acidity throughout.
Risky Business Pinot Gris 2018
King Valley, RRP $25
Winner of a Trophy at the 2018 Australian Cool Cimate Wine Show and a Gold medal at the 2018 Perth Wine Show, this is a Pinot Gris that’s set to impress. Presenting as very pale straw in the glass, it has a perfumed nose of jasmine, apple, lemon and pear aromas. Vibrant and energetic, the palate features lovely lemon and white fruit drive, along with hints of musk, fresh acidity and a silken mouth-feel. A solid Gris style!
Table of Plenty Sangiovese Rosé 2018
Gundagai, RRP $21
This Rosé is in the dry and savoury spectrum thanks to the Sangiovese’s naturally high tannins and acidity. Pretty in pale salmon pink, it shows white strawberry and nectarine aromas. Savoury yet juicy with a pristine core of strawberry and ruby grapefruit flavours, it has vibrant acidity and mouth-watering persistence. Pure, light and fresh yet with stacks of flavour.
See Saw Pinot Gris 2017
Orange, RRP $25
See Saw’s owner Justin Jarrett is one of the most respected and progressive vignerons in the Orange region. The fruit for this wine is off two blocks grown at 730m and 900m elevation. Cool climate brightness comes through on the nose with its tightly wound green melon, pear juice and pink lady apple. A classic refined and satiny style showing perfectly weighted fruit, mouth-feel and length. Finishes with cashew-like creaminess and oyster shell persistence.
Eddystone Point Pinot Gris 2017
Tumbarumba, RRP $26
This is the fifth vintage of this wine, made by Penny Jones and the team at Bay of Fires. A silken and seductive wine, which when tasted blind you could confuse with the best of Alsace. Pale lemon in the glass, it displays aromas of pear, apple and honeysuckle with a touch of ginger. It has a smooth and velvety texture with a ripe core of white fruit, subtle floral notes and racy acid balance. Refined yet generous.
Josef Chromy Fumé Blanc 2017
Tasmania, RRP $28
Not happy with making Sauvignon Blanc like everyone else, winemaker Jeremy Dineen has given this wine the same treatment as he would do for their famed Chardonnay. The result is a riot of spicy Fumé power with gooseberry and passionfruit, fresh herbaceousness and oak spice. Bold and satiny-soft with lovely ripe gooseberry and melon, juicy mouth-feel, savoury barrel complexity and gentle yet tangy and lip-smacking acidity. Delicious!