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50 Best Wines of 2020

2020. What a year! It seems like the wine industry had it all – raging bushfires affecting many of our key wine regions in January combined with ongoing drought in most parts of Australia. Then in the middle of vintage, we were hit a further blow with Covid 19. 

All these challenges have had a significant effect on Australian winemakers, and whilst wine volumes were down in most regions, quality remains very high and we saw many outstanding wines again in 2020.
It’s what I love about this industry – the resilience of Australian winemakers in the face of enormous adversity.

Grape supply is reduced by up to 50 percent in some regions from the 2020 vintage and cost of production has gone north substantially. Yet we have stayed the course and I’m happy to report that the overall quality 
of the 3,500 wines we have seen this year is fabulous! 

 

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In 2020, we took the opportunity to rotate our Panel of judges and appoint two new co-Chairs. Karl Stockhausen and Phil Ryan, two legends of the industry have retired as Panel Chairs and in their place are PJ Charteris and Adam Walls. Besides PJ’s enormous talent as a winemaker, he is currently the Chairman of the Sydney Royal Wine Show and has judged at capital city and regional wine shows for the last 25 years.

Adam is no stranger to Wine Selectors members – part of our Tasting Panel, he has also judged at many Australian wine shows over the last 10 years and was awarded Dux at the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial in 2019. I think I can say with some confidence that we truly have a world class Panel of judges, ensuring our customers get the very best wines Australia is producing.

 

The highlights

So what stood out in 2020? As per last year, what I noticed was the quality, the value for money and importantly that many wines were showing true varietal character. Chardonnays were classical across many regions, the best ones coming from Tumbarumba, Margaret River, Adelaide Hills and the Yarra Valley. Sauvignon Blanc’s popularity may have spawned from over the ditch, but frankly, the quality of West Australian Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc is far superior. I love the somewhat newish technique of using oak to add texture and a bit more complexity – the 2018 Juniper Estate Aquitane Blanc being a perfect example. Snap this up while you still can!

Semillon is seen by many to be a bit of an ugly duckling, but I wonder if consumers really understand this much maligned variety. More education is required, perhaps. Its spiritual home, of course, is the Hunter Valley and one of the best examples of this idiosyncratic variety is the 2020 Synergy Semillon by Andrew Thomas. It came from a difficult harvest in which only his best parcels of fruit from the famous Braemore vineyard were chosen. The resulting wine displays citrus fruit, purity and perfectly balanced acidity.

I have said previously in this column that the quality of our best Sparkling wines rivals those of Champagne, particularly ones coming from the Apple Isle. So it comes as no surprise that three of our Top 50 wines this year are Tasmanian Sparklings. The Frogmore Creek 2017 is stunning – with stonefruits and complex yeast autolysis, the wine is tense and youthful and will reward a bit more time in the bottle.

 

The red standouts

The quality of our red wines continues to impress. Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon have been workhorse varieties in Australia for many years, and while I love these wines, I am really excited about the shift towards lighter bodied reds with lower alcohols and subdued tannins. I find these wines generally more palatable, especially in this sunburnt country. 

The 2018 Holyman Pinot Noir was quite an epiphany – almost Burgundian in weight, it is muscular and brooding yet supple with quality oak. I think we can expect to see more of these serious Pinots out of Tassie in the years to come – surely the match of anything from Otago.

Sticking with Pinot Noir, of course it’s not just Tasmania that are making word class wines with this variety. On the mainland, I urge you to consider the Pinots from Yarra Valley, in case you haven’t already discovered them. 
We really liked the 2019 Helen & Joey Estate with its attractive cherry and strawberry fruit mix and delicate use of oak. Lots of varietal character, and all for just $25 a bottle!

Grenache is really starting to blossom after many years in the wilderness. It wasn’t that long ago the government was paying winemakers to pull out their Grenache – now we can’t get enough of it! Traditionally used in the ubiquitous GSM, I prefer it as a single variety when it shows little or no oak, confectionery notes and spicy fruit. McLaren Vale and Barossa do it best. I just wish there was more around to satisfy the demand. We could sell five times our allocations. Put them in the fridge for a half hour prior to drinking this summer.

I’m also enjoying the rise of Australian Cabernet Franc. Australian styles of this variety are not really a world away from the classic wines of the Loire. The 2019 Jackson’s Hill Panoramic is a cracker with crunchy tannins and bright acidity. Again, often used as a blending varietal, I think Cab Franc stands well on its own and has, for me, more appeal and approachability than its more famous older brother, the infinitely more popular Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

A fortified finish

Our solo fortified in the Top 50 this year is the Andrew Peace Muscat – a well made example of this classic Australian dessert wine. Every time I have the opportunity to taste Australian fortifieds, I lament the fact we don’t drink more of these great wines; they’re the perfect finish to any meal and this one is great value.

Of course the Top 50 represents the absolute pinnacle of the wines the judges assessed last year, but the truth is, there are many hundreds of wines that also did very well, scoring Silver and Bronze medals. Australian winemakers had a tough year in 2020, but I can assure you there has been no sacrifice in terms of quality and value for money. I hope you get the opportunity to try some of these outstanding wines from the Wine Selectors 2020 Top 50 – enjoy! 

 

The Selection

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Hungerford Hill Classic Series Chardonnay 2014
Tumbarumba, RRP $60

Hungerford Hill chose Tumbarumba fruit for this Chardonnay because the cool climate acidity bestows excellent ageing capability. Showing a bright mid lemon colour, it displays aromas of white peach, lemon, apple, hazelnut, vanilla and struck match. It has graceful touches of bottle age, yet remains vibrant with citrus and stonefruit core depth, fresh acidity and a beautifully refined finish.  

 

Snake & Herring Corduroy Chardonnay 2018
Margaret River, RRP $45

One of Western Australia’s emerging stars, Snake & Herring have produced this intense yet very refined wine with beautiful poise and minerality. Pale lemon green in the glass with intense aromas of lemon, lime, stonefruit, struck match, white pepper and charry oak. Juicy white peach and tangy grapefruit in a full-bodied style, packed with flavour and complexity from nougat oak and fruit richness. Stunning! 


Shottesbrooke Single Vineyard Series Chardonnay 2018
Adelaide Hills, RRP $33

This was a universal favourite among the Tasting Panel thanks to its complexity and development potential. Delicious now and over the next few years, it presents fresh lemony fruit lift with subtle struck match aromas. On the palate, there’s citrus, stonefruit and ripe pineapple characters with fresh vanillin oak support, and layers of grilled nuts, oyster shell and spice. 

 

Silkman Chardonnay 2019
Hunter Valley, RRP $35

The winemaking team of Liz and Shaun Silkman continue to over deliver every year and this Chardonnay is no exception. With its bright lemon yellow appearance, it allures with vibrant fruit lift on the nose and subtle notes of flint, white pepper and ginger. Elegant yet intense with a deep core of citrus and stonefruit characters, fresh vanillin oak, grilled nuts and fragrant spices and oyster shell minerality on the long finish. 


Tarrawarra Estate Chardonnay 2015
Yarra VAlley, RRP $32

A refined example of TarraWarra’s Estate Range Chardonnay, with the benefit of some secondary development after a few years in the bottle. Clean and bright with subtle and refined fruit, classy oak, stonefruit and winemaking artefact. Super-focussed fig, stonefruit and citrus blossom, beautiful acidity and cedar oak. Youthful, beautifully balanced, pristine and long. 

 

Moss Bros Moses Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Margaret River, RRP $28

This wine clearly demonstrates why Margaret River is considered one of Australia’s best Sauvignon Blanc regions. A very varietal and well made wine, it’s pale lemon yellow in colour. Lemongrass, passionfruit, gooseberry and pea pod aromas lead to a tight and bright, zesty and juicy palate with a punchy mix of varietal fruit, structural balancing acidity, mouth-watering texture and a long, juicy finish.

 

Wills Domain Mystic Spring Semillon Savignon Blanc 2020
Margaret River, RRP $25

The Haunold family of Wills Domain have a winemaking history dating back to 1383 and their expertise shines in this stunner. A WA Classic Dry White that ticks all the boxes, it’s pale and bright in the glass. Herb, tropical fruit, kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass aromas lead to a lean, bright and focussed tropical fruit palate with crunchy acidity, supple texture and good line and length. 

 

Juniper Aquitaine Blanc 2018
Margaret River, RRP $33

Not the usual fruity style of Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, this is a serious and textural wine that has been whole bunch pressed and wild-yeast fermented in barrel, taming the overt varietal characters. Grapefruit, lemon rind, passionfruit, gooseberry, nougat and wood smoke aromas. Shows latent power in a complex style, with tightly-wound acidity driving the citrus and tropical fruit core, complex barrel ferment notes and a persistent finish.

 

Andrew Thomas Synergy Semillon 2020
Hunter Valley, RRP $25

One of the Hunter’s Semillon masters, Andrew Thomas continues to deliver, and his Synergy range is incredible value for money. Delicious now but will cellar well. Bright pale straw green with a floral nose featuring background stonefruit. Generous tropical and citrus fruit entry with focussed acidity carrying abundant texture that’s both plush and crunchy with excellent persistence. 

 

Pikes Traditionale Riesling 2019
Clare Valley, RRP $25

This delicious Riesling is the 35th release from Pikes. It’s focussed and pristine yet really flavoursome, and although delicious now, will cellar well. Bright straw with excellent green luminescence in the glass, it exudes opulent lifted aromas of lime, with hints of guava, pineapple and grapefruit pith. Tight and bright, delivering pure expression of lime and lemon, along with a satiny texture, excellent balance and mouth-watering acidity. 


Robert Stein Farm Series Riesling 2019
Mudgee, RRP $25

Robert Stein have a reputation for bringing out the best in Riesling, and like all Stein Rieslings, this delicious 2019 example can be enjoyed now, or cellared for a few years. Vibrant pale lemon in colour with complex yet elegant aromas of lime, green apple and sea spray. Pristine and crisp white and yellow fruit driven by pin-point acidity combine to produce a classy Riesling.  

 

Tulloch Cellar Door Release Pinot Gris 2020
Orange, RRP $25T

The Hunter Valley team at Tulloch look elsewhere from time to time to source the best grapes in any given vintage, and this flavoursome Pinto Gris features fruit sourced from nearby Orange. A pale straw colour, it presents white florals and pear on the nose. Plush and generous with layers of nashi pear and white peach, vibrant acidity and a long, mouth-watering finish. Very fresh yet true to the Gris style. 


Peter Drayton Anomaly Vermentino 2020
Hunter Valley, RRP $30

As the name suggests, this range challenges Hunter Valley conventions with great results. A bright and pale colour, it shows fresh and spicy lemony fruit lift on the nose. Clean, dry, tight and citrussy with grapefruit, lemongrass, wet stone and sea spray notes with vibrant and intense acidity, latent depth and power, chalky textural notes and a spicy finish. 

 

Hart & Hunter Dr B’s Fiano 2019
Hunter Valley, RRP $30

Boutique producer, Hart & Hunter, make exceptional wines across their whole range, with fantastic regional specialties, as well as alternatives such as this Fiano. Pale lemon green in the glass, it allures with aromas of lime zest, green apple, lemon and sea spray. Juicy, fresh, vibrant and flavour-packed with lashings of lime and white peach characters, supple yet mouth-watering acidity, delicate minerality and a lovely long, precise finish.

 

 

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The Pawn Austrian Attack Grüner Veltliner 2018
Adelaide Hills, RRP $25 

Crafted with the intention of showing the beauty of Adelaide Hills fruit, this Grüner Veltliner presents a very pale straw colour in the glass with lime, green apple and white peach aromas. A richer, riper style of the variety with a bright mix of stonefruit, apple and lime, fleshy stonefruit-like acidity, hints of white pepper spice, and chalky textural notes that linger.

 

Grove Estate Think Outside The Circle Viognier 2018
Hilltops, RRP $20

Grove Estate grow a small amount of Viognier which they co-ferment with Shiraz, and also to make small amounts of this finely balanced and fresh single varietal wine. Pale lemon in the glass, it shows peach, apricot, ginger and lemon zest aromas. A very restrained and fresh example of the variety with a refined mix of orange and white fruit, fine texture, crisp acidity, and subtle chalky notes to finish. 


Tahbilk Marsanne 2013
Goulburn Valley, RRP $27

Tahbilk’s is the most famed example of Marsanne in the country. It drinks well young, but can mature with grace to become a wine with latent power and elegance. A medium gold colour, it presents aromas of barbequed citrus, stonefruit and nuts. Medium to full-bodied with layers of lime, apple and pear, lemon curd and roast nuts from time in bottle. A rich yet saline texture 
is balanced by crisp acidity.

 

Rutherglen Estates Renaissance Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 2018
Rutherglen, RRP $35

This delicious Rhône-style blend absolutely wowed the Panel! So intense, complex and flavoursome yet balanced, it’s a beautifully made wine. White peach, apricot, ginger, honeysuckle and wood smoke aromas introduce a complex and expressive palate with masses of stonefruit and crystallised ginger, deliciously savoury oak, silken texture and vibrant balancing acidity.


Range Life Garganega 2017
King Valley, RRP $25

There is not a lot of Garganega grown in Australia, but this wine raises the argument that there should be more. 
Pale straw in colour with green freshness, it features a complex nose of melon, delicious apple, white peach and fig aromas. Drinking beautifully with lovely balance of citrus and stonefruit characters, attractive pear-like softness, slatey minerality and a delicious, savoury finish.

 

Yarra Burn Vintage Sparkling 2017
Victoria, RRP $25

It’s the high altitude and style of the Yarra Valley that define Yarra Burn Wines made by Ed Carr, Australia’s most awarded Sparkling winemaker. This vintage beauty has a pale lemon appearance with aromas of sourdough, cherry, lemon zest and apple. Bright and flavoursome with citrus and apple core depth, silken mousse and mouthfeel, and understated touches of grilled cashew and sourdough extending the finish.

 

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Bay of Fires Tasmanian Cuvée Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV
Tasmania, RRP $46

Bay of Fires’ philosophy is to ensure the varietal characteristics of their Tasmanian fruit are revealed in every wine. This is a great example with its bright citrus, stonefruit, brioche and vanilla bean aromas. Rich and mealy with sweet melon and peach core depth, hints of grilled nut, honey and toast, creamy texture, fresh acidity and a long finish.

 

Frogmore Creek Sparkling Cuvée 2017
Tasmania, RRP $49 

The highly acclaimed Frogmore Creek wines are from southern Tasmania, where the grapes benefit from a long growing season amongst the pristine natural environment. Lemony fruit lift on the nose with deeper stonefruit and bread shop. Ripe yellow fruits, cherry and strawberry, clean bready autolysis notes, lovely creamy texture and fine acid frame. Tense, youthful and fresh with excellent flavour persistence. 

 

Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvée Rosé NV
Tasmania, RRP $34

Clover Hill prides itself on creating wines of vitality and intensity and this Sparkling is a great example. The appeal begins with its bright pale salmon bronze colour. Aromas of strawberry, watermelon rind, toast and bakers spice. Elegant yet powerful with a fine, mousse, layers of exotic spice, sourdough and ruby grapefruit. Shows distinct minerally complexity on the long finish.

 

Days of Rosé Dry Rosé 2019
Barossa Valley, RRP $20

Crafted by specialty Rosé producers, and made in the modern style, this blend of Nero d’Avola, Mataro and Cabernet Franc is pale, dry and mouth-watering, making it a versatile choice with a delicious range of foods. Pale salmon in the glass it exudes aromas of white tea, cherry and cranberry. Right in the dry, savoury style, it features a bright mix of bright red fruit characters, lovely peppery spice notes, fresh acidity and savoury tannin drive.

 

Grenache Wizardry Grenache Rosé 2019
Heathcote, RRP $23

This interesting and deliciously textural Rosé is part of De Bortoli’s Grenache Wizardry range – a homage to the Grenache variety, grown in Victoria’s Heathcote. Orange rind, white cherry, raspberry and white pepper aromas in a dry, modern style. Energetic and crisp, light and pure yet with a powerful mix of red fruit and citrus, touches of savoury dried herb and mouth-watering acidity. 

 

Colab and Bloom Tempranillo Rosé 2020
FLEURIEU, RRP $27

Mediterranean varieties such as Tempranillo tend to make some of the best dry, savoury styles, which seem to be favoured by many Rosé drinkers these days. This gorgeous expression is pale salmon coloured with lifted aromas of strawberry and rose petal. Plush yet crisp and juicy with a bright mix of strawberry and pomegranate, ruby grapefruit-like acidity and a mouth-watering, savoury finish.

 

Schild Estate Shiraz 2018
Barossa Valley, RRP $25

Schild Estate have some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world at their disposal and are able to consistently produce examples of the variety that are classic Barossa. This 2018 vintage is vibrant red purple in colour with a pretty, perfumed mix of black cherry and violet aromas with fine oak spice. Shows a rich and deep core of black fruits with velvety yet immense tannins and perfectly matched deluxe barrel. 

 

Blue Pyrenees Estate Section One Shiraz 2017
Pyrenees, RRP $44

Section One is made from the oldest Shiraz vines on the Estate Vineyard, and the fruit produces stunning wines like this 2017 Shiraz. Deep red in the glass with a nose resplendent in blueberry, raspberry, bay leaf and cedar oak aromas. Medium to full-bodied with a juicy array of red, black and blue fruit, well-integrated deluxe oak and spicy tannin harmony on the long, dry finish. Quite powerful yet with elegance and class. 


Mount Pleasant Maurice O’shea shiraz 2003
Hunter Valley, RRP $250

Mount Pleasant’s flagship wine is an apt tribute to its legendary founder whose Shiraz was revered the world over. From its bright, deep garnet colour to its aromas of plum, dark cherry, tilled earth, leather and spice, the appeal is obvious. Medium-bodied with a youthful mix of red and purple fruit, lovely aged notes of spice, tobacco and charcuterie, long savoury tannins and still-fresh acidity.

 

Henschke Keyneton Euphonium Shiraz Blend 2015
Barossa Valley, RRP $60

Combining Shiraz from vines up to 50 years old with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this triumphant blend is deep purple red in the glass. Opening with blackcurrant, black tea, bracken herb and espresso aromas, it’s powerful yet with a light touch showing a Cabernet-driven palate of cassis and leather, mocha complexity, fine satiny tannins, cedar oak and a very dry finish.

 

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Shaw Vineyard Estate Reserve Merriman Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Canberra District, RRP $65

This Cabernet is a great example of the exciting wines coming from the cool climate Canberra region. It presents blackcurrant, plum, cassis, new leather and charry oak aromas. Showing complex secondary notes of Chesterfield, black olive and cigar box, yet still with primary black fruit, seamless tannins, oak and mouth-watering acidity. 

 

Oates Ends Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Margaret River, RRP $50

Oates Ends’ Wilagri vineyard was planted in 1999, growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Sauvignon Blanc on complex loam soils over deep well draining gravels. In this Cabernet, complex aromas of blackberry, mulberry, cassis, leather and charcuterie lead to a palate with a deep mix of blue and black fruits, black olive, bay leaf, earth and cedar, dark chocolate tannins and a touch of liquorice to finish.

 

Sorby Adams Jellicoe Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Barossa Valley, RRP $20

Sorby Adams’ Jellicoe collection is a tribute to the 1st Earl Jellicoe, an Admiral of the Fleet of the British Navy. Full, deep red, this Cabernet has lifted currant, cassis and charry oak aromas. Full-bodied, dense and concentrated with layers of dark chocolate, black plum, liquorice and wood smoke, ripe yet robust tannins and bright acidity extending the finish.

 

Holyman Pinot Noir 2018
Tasmania, RRP $50

This Pinot comes from Stoney Rise, which is located on the hill overlooking the vineyard and the Tamar River in Northern Tasmania and was purchased by Joe Holyman and his wife Lou in 2004. Bright ruby with purple flecks, it allures with aromas of struck match, flint, black cherry, plum and toasted vanilla bean. Muscular, brooding and fleshy with great flavour depth, a mix 
of black fruit, supple yet deep tannins and quality oak.


Josef Chromy Pinot Noir 2018sl
Tamar Valley, RRP $38

Gun Tasmanian winemaker Jeremy Dineen has produced yet another silken and textural Pinot with just the right amount of whole bunch spice – absolutely delicious. It opens with perfumed and fresh aromas of mulled strawberries and fine oak spice. Glossy velvety field strawberry and raspberry coulis giving length and softness. Fine and very long with lovely silken tannin harmony from start to finish.

 

Helen & Joey Inara Pinot Noir 2019
yarra Valley, RRP $25

Made for everyday enjoyment, Helen & Joey’s Inara range represents the ‘joyful, youthful, luminous’ meaning of the name. This Pinot Noir is a perfect expression, with its full Pinot ruby colour and beautiful varietal characters of strawberry, musk, rose petal and forest floor. Gorgeous harmony and balance delivering terrific fullness and softness over powder-soft tannins and delicious charry oak.


Silent Way Pinot Noir 2017
Central Victoria, RRP $25

This hard-to-find wine is the personal label of Curly Flat winemaker Matt Harrop. It’s medium density garnet in the glass with a brick hue. Whole bunch spice, amaro, sour cherry and blood plum aromas lead to a palate showing stalky astringency under forest floor characters and mushroom notes, red berry fruit depth, mocha complexity, hints of development and an earthy, savoury finish. 

 

McWilliam’s Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
Tumbarumba, RRP $40

A seductive wine from McWilliam’s Single Vineyard range, with excellent structure and all its elements in harmony, showing the charm of Tumbarumba Pinot at its best. Red plum, dark cherry, tobacco, anise and charry oak aromas. Fleshy and bold, flushed with refined red fruit, with touches of clove, Italian bitters and cigar box, fine and savoury tannin foundation and plenty of quality charry oak.

 

Trimboli’s Family Reserve Saverio Grenache 2019
Mount Lofty ranges, RRP $26

Trimboli Family Wines have crafted a delicious Grenache using premium fruit from South Australia’s Mount Lofty Ranges. A lovely vibrant red purple colour, it features sweet red and purple fruit aromas with hints of vanilla and chocolate. Dense and jubey, youthful and flavoursome with juicy dark cherry and blueberry in a rich and chocolatey style with fresh, balancing acidity.

 

Robert Oatley G19 Grenache 2019
McLaren Vale, RRP $28

The Robert Oatley Signature Series draws on a diverse portfolio of vineyards, showcasing Australia’s most successful wine styles and regions. This McLaren Valey Grenache is bright pale ruby coloured. On the nose are aromas of raspberry, blueberry, dark cherry and white pepper. A modern, fruit-driven and unoaked example of the variety with a bright mix of red and blue fruits, deliciously silken tannins and mouth-watering acidity. 

 

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Yangarra Estate Vineyard Noir 2018
McLaren Vale, RRP $25

Led by Grenache, this blend includes six different varieties that mirror those grown in the southern Rhône Valley of France. Many would say a trail blazing wine. Raspberry, lavender, dried herb and black tea on the nose. Medium bodied with harmony of acid and tannins. Mouth-watering brightness creates a complex yet easy-drinking wine with touches of Amaro and florals.

 

Franca’s Vineyard Tempranillo 2020
Riverland, RRP $22

A master of alternate varietals, Alex Russell has crafted another fantastic Joven-style red. It’s energetic and varietal, making for a cracking young-drinker. Bright garnet in the glass, it has clean and lifted dark berry fruit aromas with graphite, clove and earth complexity. A wonderful red with juicy dark fruit characters, lovely texture and vibrant acidity in a defined fruit-driven style. 


Gilbert Rouge Shiraz Sangiovese Petit Verdot 2018
Mudgee, RRP $25

Fifth generation winemaker Simon Gilbert, joined by his son Will, form a dynamic team and have produced this beautifully appealing Shiraz Sangiovese Petit Verdot. Deep, dark ruby coloured with a nose of pot pourri, cedar, bay leaf, plum and mulberry. Fresh and vibrant yet rich and juicy with ripe, crunchy red fruit, fine yet deep tannins, creamy mouthfeel and a savoury finish.

 

Jackson’s Hill Panoramic Cabernet Franc 2019
Hunter Valley, RRP $28

Jackson’s Hill is located high on a hill in the Hunter sub-region of Mount View, and they focus on sourcing ideal region-variety combinations for the best result. This approach is on show in this Hunter Cab Franc with its clean, bright and focussed aromatics of leafy berry and subtle graphite lift. It has a generous leafy red berry fruit profile with ripe and supple tannins. It’s an open-knit style with a generously textural exit.

 

Cloak & Dagger The Cloak Sangiovese 2019
King Valley, RRP $25

Promoting itself as an unconventional wine brand with an emphasis on wines without pretence, Wines Unplugged are behind this medium to deep ruby Sangiovese. It opens with aromas of cherry, cranberry and pot pourri while the medium-bodied palate shows earthy, savoury fruits, vibrant acidity, medium-weight tannins, mouth-watering texture and a dry, earthy finish.

 

Forest Hill Vineyard Highbury Fields Merlot 2018
Great Southern, RRP $24

While Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet are Great Southern’s most well-known varieties, they also make excellent Merlot as this wine demonstrates. 
Deep red purple with aromas of blackcurrant, plum, bay leaf, olive and tobacco. Intensely deep showing black fruit saturation throughout with delicious tapenade and cigar box complexity, impressive tannin richness and a persistent finish.


Vinaceous Voodoo Moon Malbec 2018
Margaret River, RRP $22

Although Margaret River is a hotbed for Cabernet, the Malbecs being produced are vying with the country’s best, as this beautifully made example shows. With dark cherry plum and violet perfume, it’s full-bodied, dense and luscious with lashings of dark berry, plum and currant, beautiful spice, chocolate and espresso notes, firm tannins and well-judged savoury oak.  

 

Nericon Reserve Durif 2018
Riverina, RRP $20

Simply put, this is one of the best Durif wines the Panel had the pleasure of tasting in 2020. If you’re looking for a varietal benchmark, then this is it. Deep red purple in the glass, it has aromas of blackberry, plum, raspberry, mocha and vanillin oak. Very youthful and powerful with excellent varietal expression showing as black fruit compote, concentrated and layered tannins, supple acidity and a long and persistent finish. 


De Iuliis Special Release Nebbiolo 2017
Hilltops, RRP $25

Along with many Hunter producers, Mike De Iuliis sources fruit from nearby regions to create ideal region-variety synergy, as this Hilltops Nebbiolo shows. Cherry, red plum, black olive and rose petal aromas. Light-bodied yet firm with a silken core of blood plum and raspberry, touches of citrus rind and pot pourri, grippy varietal tannins, mouth-watering acidity and a silken finish.

 

Andrew Peace Masterpeace Cellar Release Muscat NV
Swan HIll, RRP $22

This ‘Masterpeace’ is crafted from reserve wines that have been gently ageing in the winery cellars – only bottled when they reach the required level of maturity and intensity. The result is a pale amber coloured wine with fresh honey and spice lift. Lighter bodied yet fresh with intense flavours of caramel, butterscotch, honey, vanilla, five spice and fresh leather, finishing with savoury acid freshness.

 

 

 

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