Top 50 wines of 2015
The Wine Selectors Tasting Panel, made up of nine highly tuned palates belonging to iconic winemakers and wineshow judges, meet almost every Friday at Wine Selectors HQ to taste and rate wines. Each and every wine that is submitted to Wine Selectors is reviewed in a blind tasting format, meaning their label is masked from the Panel, so as to remove any bias. Therefore, each and every wine is tasted purely on its merit in the glass. On average, the Panel tastes around 60+ wines a week. For 50 weeks a year, that equates to...well, a lot of wines!
Up until now, this regimented tasting ritual has had the sole purpose of ensuring that the wines we send out to our Members are top quality, every time. The rule is, if the wine doesn’t score 15.5 out of 20 or above, Wine Selectors won’t buy it. In real terms, this means that every wine that we sell is of medal-winning standard. It has been the golden rule that Wine Selectors has operated on for 40 successful years.
As an editor, and as a wine lover, I saw the Panel’s arduous tasting schedule as an opportunity to generate a ‘best wines of the year’ list.
More than meets the eye
Examining the results makes for some pretty interesting reading. The Top 50 is a mixture of old favourites, recent acquaintances and brand new friends, which is all very exciting. The most popular varietal in the Top 50? Shiraz with 11. To be expected really, with it being our most widely planted and produced grape. Chardonnay with nine listings was next, not totally unexpected, but a pleasant result given the fact it has taken a battering in the white wine world over the past decade or so from other young dames. It must also be noted that two of these were Hunter Valley Chardonnay! Then followed: Cabernet Sauvignon (6), Pinot Noir (4) and three blends involving Shiraz.
What is very promising is the fact that there are a number of alternative varietals on the list: Roussanne, Malbec, Grenache, Tempranillo and even a Gewürztraminer! This bodes extremely well for the wide variety available to the Australian wine drinker. There were also two Semillons (but only one from the Hunter), two Fortifieds, but perhaps disappointingly, only one Sparkling and a lone Riesling.
It appears that the last few vintages have been pretty good for winemakers in the Hunter Valley, Margaret River and the emerging giant, Great Southern, who each topped the pile with six wines represented. Adelaide Hills (5), Barossa (4), McLaren Vale (4) and Coonawarra (3 – but only one of them Cab Sauv) also performed well. Regions that surprised many included: Heathcote, Goulburn Valley and Great Western, while Rutherglen proved that it is still producing world-class Fortifieds, including the top scoring wine from All Saints Estate.
Speaking of producers, there were only two who had multiple entries in the Top 50 – Howard Park with their Marchand & Burch Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay; and Brown Brothers with a Tempranillo and a Pinot Noir. So hats off to those guys, they are obviously getting their sites and winemaking spot-on.
Overall, this Top 50 list is great news for wine lovers. The results show that we can rely on wines we have admired for decades, some faithful styles are being produced better than ever before, while at the same time, there is a rich range of top quality emerging varietals on the market.
Top 50 Wines of 2015
1. All Saints Estate Grand Rutherglen Muscat (Rutherglen, $72)
2. Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Coonawarra, $35)
3. Driftwood Estate The Collection Shiraz Cabernet 2012 (Margaret River, $21)
4. Best’s Great Western Bin No 0 Shiraz 2013 (Great Western, $75)
5. Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2014 (Mount Barker, $50)
6. Eppalock Ridge Shiraz 2013 (Heathcote, $20)
7. Ballabourneen ‘The Three Amigos’ Cabernet Petit Verdot Merlot 2013 (McLaren Vale/Orange/Hunter Valley, $35)
8. Thistledown The Vagabond Grenache 2014 (McLaren Vale, $40)
9. Murray Street Vineyards Black Label Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, $25)
10. Rymill gt Gewürztraminer 2015 (Coonawarra, $20)
11. Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Frankland River, $38)
12. Tyrrell’s Wines Vat 47 Chardonnay 2011 (Hunter Valley, $70)
13. Howard Park Western Australia Chardonnay 2014 (Great Southern/Marg River, $54)
14. Shaw & Smith Incognito Chardonnay 2013 (Adelaide Hills, $19)
15. Innocent Bystander Mea Culpa Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley, $60)
16. Brown Brothers 18 Eighty Nine Tempranillo 2013 (Victoria, $19)
17. Rutherglen Estates Classic Muscat NV (Rutherglen, $15)
18. Mr Riggs Generation Series The Magnet Grenache 2013 (McLaren Vale, $27)
19. X by Xabregas Figtree Riesling 2014 (Mount Barker, $40)
20. Château Tanunda Terroirs of the Barossa Lyndoch Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, $49.50)
21. Ferngrove ‘Dragon’ Shiraz 2012 (Frankland River, $32)
22. Brown Brothers Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2014 (Tamar River Tasmania, $25)
23. Henry’s Drive Shiraz Cabernet 2010 (Padthaway, $35)
24. Jansz Single Vineyard Sparkling Chardonnay 2009 (Pipers River Tasmania, $64.95)
25. First Creek Semillon 2013 (Hunter Valley, $25)
26. Mitchell Wines McNicol Shiraz 2006 (Clare Valley, $40)
27. Serafino ‘Sharktooth’ Shiraz 2009 (McLaren Vale, $70)
28. De Iuliis Steven Vineyard Shiraz 2014 (Hunter Valley, $40)
29. Bird in Hand Two in the Bush Shiraz 2013 (Adelaide Hills, $20)
30. Peos Estate Four Aces Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Margaret River, $36)
31. Tomich ‘T’ Woodside Vineyard 1777 Pinot Noir 2013 (Adelaide Hills, $30)
32. Brokenwood Maxwell Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (Hunter Valley, $55)
33. Alkoomi Wandoo Semillon 2005 (Frankland River, $35)
34. Draytons Family Wines Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Hunter Valley, $20)
35. Pindarie Western Ridge Shiraz 2015 (Barossa Valley, $28)
36. Yering Station ‘Little Yering’ Cabernet Shiraz 2010 (Yarra Valley, $18)
37. Geoff Hardy Wines K1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Adelaide Hills, $35)
38. Box Grove Vineyard Roussanne 2009 (Goulburn Valley, $28)
39. Bleasdale Second Innings Malbec 2013 (Langhorne Creek, $20)
40. Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Quartage Cabernet/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot/Merlot 2013 (Barossa, $25)
41. Redgate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Margaret River, $38)
42. Harewood Estate Chardonnay 2014 (Denmark, $27.50)
43. Millbrook Winery Limited Edition Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River, $45)
44. Hungerford Hill Classic Range Chardonnay 2014 (Tumbarumba, $33)
45. Tower Estate Coombe Rise Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 (Hunter Valley, $38)
46. Seville Estate ‘Old Vine Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2013 (Yarra Valley, $90)
47. Thompson Estate Four Chambers Shiraz 2013 (Margaret River, $22)
48. Penny’s Hill Footprint Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale, $65)
49. Bremerton ‘Tamblyn’ Cabernet Shiraz Malbec Merlot 2012 (Langhorne Creek, $19.90)
50. Rockcliffe Third Reef Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Great Southern, $26)
Further reading: the of Best wines of 2016