Top 100 Winter Wines
Reviewer Peter Forrestal selects the best 100 for STM.
All wines in STM’s Top 100 Winter Wines have been rated in blind tasting and given a score out of 20. This is the same system as used in wine shows where the wine receives points for colour (3), aroma (7) and flavour (10). Wines that score 18.5 or more are worthy of a gold medal; 17 to 18 a silver medal; 15.5 to 16.5 a bronze medal. All wines in the Top 100 Winter Wines have scored at least a silver medal.
OUTSTANDING LOCAL REDS:
We’re spoilt for choice and quality in this selection of local reds from some of WA’s leading wineries.
1. 2005 Brown Hill Fimiston Shiraz, $25
From Rosa Glen in Margaret River’s south regions comes this densely flavoured, robust shiraz that has velvety texture and substantial tannins. Needs time.
2. 2005 Cape Mentelle Trinders Cabernet Merlot, $29.95
Consecutive outstanding vintages for this brilliant cab merlot: rich, concentrated, powerfully flavoured, yet superbly textured and harmonious.
3. 2004 Houghton Crofters Cabernet Merlot, $35
Contains a great deal of surplus from the great 2004 Jack Mann, and it shows: brooding, brambly, smooth and supple, approachable.
4. 2001 Houghton Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon, $90
One of the West’s most impressive – a single-vineyard cabernet from Frankland River: complex, earthy, savoury, black-cherry, dark-plum flavours, with massive tannins.
5. 2003 Howard Park Cabernet Merlot, $75
Winning the trophy for best red at the 2007 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is some achievement. This is elegant, neatly balanced, with redcurrant and cassis flavours and fine harmonious tannins.
6. 2005 Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Cabernet Merlot, $43
The best yet from the Ribbon Vale vineyard: fragrant, vanilla-bean, mulberry and blackcurrant flavours; formidable tannins are matched by deep-seated fruit.
7. 2004 Plantagenet Shiraz, $40
Consistently one of our best shiraz: allspice, anise, dark-pepper, chocolate, licorice and dark-plum flavours, velvety texture, and ripe, fine tannins.
8. 2004 Vasse Felix Shiraz, $35
The best Vasse Felix shiraz I’ve seen in years. This is juicy, fleshy, balanced with terrific depth of flavour and length – spicy.
9. 2004 Woodlands Rachael Cabernet Sauvignon, $90
The Woodlands vineyard in Wilyabrup has been outstanding in recent years as have the wines, especially the flagship cabernet. A great vintage brings intensity, power and harmony to this classic.
10. 2005 Xabregas Show Reserve Shiraz, $23.95
Winemaker Di Miller rarely misses a beat. Consecutive vintages of this Mt Barker red have been outstanding – and great value: clean, lively, deep, well-integrated flavours, fleshy texture and a gentle grip.
REDS UNDER $15:
Enjoy some top quaffing wines for a seriously good price.
11. 2005 Angove’s Stonegate Petit Verdot, $8.95
A Riverland red punching way above its price: blackberry pastille with some earthy complexity and mouth-coating tannins.
12. 2005 De Bortoli Deen Vat 8 Shiraz, $10
Trophy winner from the Sydney Wine Show that is silky smooth and fleshy, with generous, ripe plummy flavours. Gluggable.
13. 2005 Fishbone Merlot, $14.95
A Blackwood Valley producer who shows that merlot can be soft, round and fruity with just a slight grip to remind us that wines need food to show their best.
14. 2004 Grant Burge Barossa Vines Shiraz, $14.75
This large Barossa producer shows what it can do in an outstanding year: generous, velvety red with heaps of oak and enough blackberry and redcurrant flavours to drink well young.
15. 2005 Long Flat Destinations Shiraz, $14.95
This Barossa shiraz is fresh, clean and juicy with bright plummy flavours, no overt oak influence. Easy drinking.
16. 2005 Red Knot Shiraz, $14.95
Delicious second label for Shingleback from McLaren Vale: rich, concentrated and velvety. Seductive for the price.
17. 2005 Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz, $14.95
This is the best of the new-look Rosemount cheapies: deep, powerful, robust blackberry flavours, silky smooth texture and wonderful approachability.
18. 2005 Rutherglen Estates The Reunion Mourvedre Shiraz Grenache, $14.95
It’s easy to love this blend from Nicole Esdaile: fragrant, ripe, succulent, sweet, plummy fruit. Incredible value.
19. 2006 Schild Grenache Mataro Shiraz, $14.95
A Barossa blend that has ultra-smooth texture and vibrant raspberry and mulberry flavours that linger.
20. 2005 Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier, $12
The Quaff 2007 Wine of the Year is a brilliant red that is drinking better than ever: elegant, full-flavoured and seductive texture.
REDS UNDER $25:
Enjoy consistent quality at a reasonable price with this selection of reds from home and further afield.
21. 2003 Brand’s Shiraz, $22
This Coonawarra red is pleasant drinking with spicy, peppery characters enlivening its smooth, fleshy texture.
22. 2005 Brown Hill Chaffers Shiraz, $16
A Margaret River red from Rosa Glen that has plenty of ripe tannins but deep, dark, brooding berry flavours to provide balance and drinkability.
23. 2004 Campbells Bobbie Burns Shiraz, $21.50
Here is quintessential Rutherglen shiraz: deep, richly concentrated, with ripe, sweet plummy fruit and a smoothness that underlines approachability.
24. 2006 De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir, $19.50
Australia’s best pinot under $20: restrained, fine redcurrant and dark-cherry flavours with some savoury hints, silky texture, good weight and tannins to balance.
25. 2006 Faber Petit Verdot, $19.50
One of Australia’s best warm-climate petit verdot comes from this family winery in the Swan Valley. Ripe, sweet fruit, fresh raspberry and bitter chocolate tannins.
26. 2005 Fonty’s Pool Merlot, $21.95
Winemaker Ely Jarvis is finding consistency with merlot from this Manjimup vineyard. Here it’s fine, savoury and textural and finishes dry and long.
27. 2005 Heartland Shiraz, $17
Great value from winemaker Ben Glaetzer and Langhorne Creek: deep, flavoursome and succulent, silky smooth and approachable.
28. 2004 Gemtree Tatty Road Red, $18
A fruit-driven blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and cabernet franc, which shows off this McLaren Vale vineyard: lush, blackcurrant pastille flavours.
29. 2005 Mitchelton Shiraz, $21
The warmth of Central Victoria spawns this aromatic, lively shiraz with spicy, dark-plum and black-cherry flavours and smooth approachability.
30. 2004 Mt Langi Ghiran Robinson Shiraz, $25
My favourite of four different $25 shiraz released by Mt Langi. Spicy, black-pepper fragrances, powerfully flavoured with supple tannins and black pepper lingering.
31. 2005 Mt Trio Gravel Pit Shiraz Viognier, $19.95
A highly successful Porongurups label and, with wines like this, it’s easy to see why. Deeply flavoured with ripe plummy fruit and heaps of oak, fleshy, viscous and very drinkable.
32. 2005 Oyster Bay Merlot, $18.95
One of New Zealand’s most successful labels: this is fresh, clean, ripe, generous and as soft and silky as merlot is supposed to be.
33. 2005 Penley Estate Condor Shiraz Cabernet, $18.95
Excellent Coonawarra producer with four terrific reds at this price. Condor is silky smooth, pleasantly concentrated, absurdly approachable, then gone.
34. 2004 Pepperjack Shiraz, $22
It was a great year for shiraz in the Barossa. This is spicy, with ripe red-berry flavours, fleshy texture and substantial though fine, manageable tannins.
35. 2004 Peter Lehmann Cabernet Merlot, $18
In the good years, Barossa cabernet can be a very good drink: deep, rich and concentrated, viscous almost slippery. Satisfying.
36. 2004 Schild Estate Merlot, $24
Good merlot in Australia is much rarer than you’d expect so this Barossa example is a find: vibrant, fleshy and succulent, soft, round and warmly attractive.
37. 2004 Rosily Cabernet Sauvignon, $23
This beautifully textured Margaret River cabernet has a juiciness and vibrance that balances ripe plummy fruit with substantial tannins.
38. 2004 Rufus Stone Cabernet Malbec, $20
A McLaren Vale blend from this Tyrrell’s label that is soft, round and silky smooth crammed with redcurrant and mulberry flavours. Easy drinking.
39. 2005 West Cape Howe Book Ends Cabernet Sauvignon, $24.95
This Great Southern producer sources excellent cabernet from the well-established Landsdale vineyard at Mt Barker. This is generously oaked, fleshy and deeply flavoured.
40. 2005 Windance Shiraz, $18
This wine from near Yallingup is almost as good as its more expensive sibling. Robust and oaky, yet densely flavoured, smooth and drinkable, preferably with a big steak.
REDS OVER $25:
These wines need the time to enjoy, just as they needed time to mature. Savour them with good friends and food.
41. 2004 Majella Cabernet Sauvignon, $30
Perhaps the best value red of the year: heaps of trophies for an opulent, concentrated Coonawarra cabernet with seductive velvety texture. Drinkable now but with a future.
42. 2005 Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, $30
The best Bowen cabernet in years from one of the region’s great family wineries. This is classic Coonawarra:spicy blackcurrant, neatly integrated with classy oak.
43. 2005 Woodlands Cabernet Merlot, $39
Woodlands is one of the big improvers in Margaret River. This wine is silky smooth, with concentrated black-cherry and blackberry flavours.
44. 2005 Shelmerdine Phi Pinot Noir, $40
An impressive new joint venture in the Yarra has produced one of the best pinots I’ve seen in some time: silky smooth, densely flavoured. Classy but needs time.
45. 2005 Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir, $64
Attractive juicy Yarra Valley pinot with savoury overtones, silky texture, impeccable balance and admirable finesse.
46. 2003 Arlewood Cabernet Sauvignon, $35
A small Wilyabrup vineyard making impressive cabernet. This is fragrant, rich and concentrated with the harmony that comes from balancing fruit weight and tannins.
47. 2003 Evans & Tate The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $29.95
This richly concentrated Margaret River cabernet has an imposing show record – not surprising considering its purity of dark-berry flavours and satiny smoothness.
48. 2003 Lenton Brae Cabernet Sauvignon, $40
Another Wilyabrup family winery with second-generation Ed Tomlinson producing a fascinating, textured cabernet. The flavours are restrained. It’s the smoothness that attracts.
49. 2003 Juniper Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, $32
The benefit of 30-year-old vines shines here. Complex, multi-layered, spicy cassis flavours, velvety texture, incredible depth and length.
50. 2005 Kaesler Stonehorse Shiraz, $28
Great value from a revitalised vineyard in an excellent vintage – all the power, opulence and seductive flavours and textures you’d expect from a very good Barossa shiraz.
These are some of the rarest and finest current-release reds on the market, so they may be tricky to find, but are worth the effort.
51. 2005 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, $75
The benchmark for this style in Australia. Floral yet restrained, fine, elegant, complex, it lingers smooth and silky.
52. 2002 Hardys Eileen Hardy Shiraz, $95
The pinnacle of Hardys’ red-wine production – and it shows: dense, powerful ripe blackberry and dark-plum flavours, multi-layered with amazing depth and concentration.
53. 2004 Henschke Euphonium Shiraz Cabernet Merlot, $42
This is my favourite luxury wine of the year, an Eden Valley red blend of outstanding quality: beguiling blackberry-pastille flavours, good concentration, vibrance, balance and harmony.
54. 2002 Jamiesons Run Winemakers Selection Cabernet Shiraz Malbec, $55
An outstanding Coonawarra red with dark-chocolate, blackcurrant and cedary oak flavours. Opulent, complex, fleshy and hard to resist.
55. 2004 O’Leary Walker Claire Shiraz, $90
This is the flagship wine for Clare Valley-based David O’Leary and Nick Walker. Heaps of spicy vanilla-bean oak, powerful flavours, wonderful depth and length, yet approachable. Impressive.
56. 2002 Penfolds Grange, $500
A blockbuster. Amazing density of blackberry, anise, dark-chocolate flavour, complex, multi-layered with monumental ripe, fine tannins. World class.
57. 2004 Penley Estate Special Select Shiraz, $50.50
While I’m not a fan of Coonawarra shiraz, here’s one to satisfy the grumpiest critic: violets and star anise, silky smooth texture, deep, dark spices, heaps of tannin, yet approachable.
58. 2005 Philip Shaw No. 89 Shiraz Viognier, $44.95
One of our great winemakers shows that Orange can do reds too: briary, succulent, even vibrant, almost lush and velvety, complex, intriguing and harmonious.
59. 2004 Torbreck Run Rig Shiraz, $250
The Torbreck flagship showcases old-vine Barossa shiraz: fragrant, dried herbs, chocolate and dark-berry flavours, succulent and fleshy.
60. 2005 Torbreck The Gask Shiraz, $75
A captivating single-vineyard shiraz from the Eden Valley: opulent, ripe, sweet fruit, almost syrupy fleshy texture, generous and harmonious. It lingers forever.
EXCELLENT FOOD WINES:
Food and wine are natural partners and show each other off to their best advantage.
61. 2006 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling, $23
Transform this lean, austere dry riesling into a plump, juicy white with some grilled whiting with citrus aioli and a squeeze of lemon.
62. 2005 Tarrawarra Tin Cows Pinot Noir, $25
The Tarrawarra pinot is superb value: savoury, earthy, yet vibrant and persistent. Ideal with crisp duck confit and lentils.
63. 1999 Dom Perignon, $250
Surprisingly forward for a 1999 champers. Soft, subtle, delicate, very fine, with a sublime, creamy texture, especially with oysters, and a gentle lingering aftertaste that persists.
64. 2005 Voyager Estate Shiraz, $32
Crammed with ripe black-cherry and dark-plum flavours, smooth and powerful with substantial tannins that need to be tamed by a hearty beef and red wine casserole.
65. 2005 Kooyong Pinot Noir, $43
A top-class Mornington Peninsula pinot made for the long haul with immense weight, body and power. Try with peking duck.
66. 2005 Penley Estate Gryphon Merlot, $18.95
Coonawarra merlot is Australia’s best and it need not be expensive. Enjoy with roasted veal shoulder with roasted vegetables and a red wine jus.
67. 2004 Petaluma Shiraz, $45
Brilliant Adelaide Hills shiraz that is powerful, fleshy, balanced and very dry. Try with a traditional slow-cooked oxtail stew.
68. 2005 John Duval Entity Shiraz, $42
A classy Barossa shiraz with more restraint and harmony than most. Try it with a roasted leg of lamb, all the trimmings and a red-wine reduction sauce.
69. 2005 Bella Ridge Tempranillo, $21
A new Swan Valley producer that impresses with this robust Spanish varietal. Try with a stir-fry of beef and black-bean sauce.
70. 2005 Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz, $55
This Barossa red has weight, concentration, power, but is elegantly balanced with velvety texture. Try with sirloin steak, chips, a shiraz jus and a salad.
ROSES AND WINTER WHITES:
Not to be overlooked in the cooler months, rosés and whites refresh the palate and satisfy the soul.
71. 2006 Catching Thieves Rosé, $15.95
A Margaret River quaffer with floral aromas, ripe strawberry characters, surprisingly creamy texture and a soft, gentle finish with a touch of sweetness.
72. 2007 Charles Melton Rose of Virginia, $20
The quintessential Aussie rosé is fresh and vibrant as a new-born vintage: pure, sweet, red-berry flavours, finishes dry and crisp.
73. 2006 Yering Station Pinot Noir Rosé ED, $17.95
The ED is for “extra dry” and that’s what it is: delicate, savoury characters, textured, lingering long and dry.
74. 2006 Cullen Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, $35
A standout from Rick Cullen and Bettina Mangan’s vineyard across the road from Cullens: intense, bright, pure, zesty with crisp, dry acidity.
75. 2006 Heggies Riesling, $18.95
A consistently fine riesling from Yalumba in the Eden Valley – more austere and minerally than their Pewsey Vale example. Lemon-blossom, talc fragrances, juicy and vibrant with cleansing, racy acidity.
76. 2006 Hesketh Hidden Garden Sauvignon Blanc, $25
One of the better Kiwi SBs balancing ripe tropical fruits and some minerally notes, thanks to good intensity and a crisp finish.
77. 2006 Houghton Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc, $23.95
This shows Pemberton’s potential: restrained, complex, viscous, with a tangy finish with taut, refreshing acidity.
78. 2002 Mt Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, $16.95
One of Australia’s great white wines showing a hint of toasty character, lemon-lime citrus, bold, concentrated flavours, yet juicy, soft and creamy when sampled with oysters.
79. 2001 Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling, $25.95
A world-class riesling to grace any dinner party. It is fine, delicate, complex, intense with pure lime. Remarkably youthful.
80. 2006 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc, $27
A superb Kiwi sauvignon worth the extra dollars: ripe passionfruit, gooseberry and lychee flavours balancing its lean, savoury, dry finish.
81. 2005 Ad Hoc Hen & Chicken Chardonnay, $20
Sourced from Pemberton, here’s great value from Larry Cherubino: restrained, elegant, cool melony flavours, tight structure and fine, gentle acid.
82. 2005 Hardys Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, $55
A follow up to the successful 2004: powerful grapefruit and minerally flavours, tight even steely, and firm to finish. Needs time but will be magnificent.
83. 2005 Houghton Pemberton Chardonnay, $25
Underlines the promise of Pemberton for whites: complex, melony, grapefruit flavours with some leesy notes and an excellent mouthfeel.
84. 2006 Laurance Chardonnay, $30
A surprise packet from Bruce Dukes and the most arresting new cellar door in Margaret River: intense, vibrant and focused, fine, elegant and minerally.
85. 2004 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, $91
Australia’s benchmark chardonnay in an outstanding year: pristine, fine, complex, beautifully integrated, multi-layered. Stunning.
86. 2004 Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay, $120
An outstanding performer on a regular basis: grapefruit citrus, minerally, fine and tight with powerful flavours and taut, racy acidity.
87. 2005 Philip Shaw No. 11 Chardonnay, $30
Excellent single-vineyard white from ultra-cool Orange: pear, apple, white stone fruit, great mouthfeel. It’s bright, focused, tight and long.
88. 2005 Voyager Estate Chardonnay, $38
Among Margaret River’s best thanks to refinement from Cliff Royle: pure, fresh, direct, ripe and peachy, with well-integrated oak and delicate, cleansing acidity.
89. 2006 Woodlands Chloe Chardonnay, $55
Two outstanding vintages pull Woodlands into the upper echelons of Margaret River’s chardonnay set. This is floral, opulent and intense with attractive creamy texture and finesse.
90. 2005 Xanadu Chardonnay, $25
Glenn Goodall points the way back as the Rathbone revival continues at Xanadu. This is fragrant, cedary and leesy with cool flavours, a good mouthfeel and cleansing acidity.
They’re the perfect closure to a satisfying meal and are particularly succulent in front of an open fire.
91. All Saints Rutherglen Tokay, $19.50
An excellent entry-level fortified: gently syrupy, sweet malt, honey and toffee, some depth, yet bright, fresh and light.
92. Campbells Classic Muscat, $39.10
A serious Rutherglen muscat at a fair price: fragrant, deeply raisiny flavours, velvety almost lush texture, vibrant and bright to finish.
93. Chambers Rare Tokay/Muscadelle (375ml), $250
The perfect fortified. Its texture is satiny, slippery, the flavours seamless, opulent beyond description. Hunt it down.
94. Chambers Tokay/ Muscadelle (Rutherglen), $15
A wonderful entry-level tokay. Golden, sweet honeycomb flavours, vibrant and vital, it has a lightness of touch, yet with depth. Amazing finesse. For stockists, firstname.lastname@example.org
95. Houghton White Liqueur (375ml), $50
Based on a 1957 Jack Mann verdelho (2 per cent of the blend) with a contribution from each Houghton winemaker since. It has deep toffee and treacle flavours, fine, lush, fresh, clean and long. From cellar door.
96. John Kosovich Liqueur Muscat (375ml), $65
The ultimate West Australian fortified: deep, opulent and lush, with concentrated raisin, molasses and treacle flavours; powerful, gentle and harmonious. From cellar door.
97. Morris Black Label Muscat, $12
A budget-priced fortified that has intriguing aromas of toffee and butterscotch with some raisiny notes and luscious flavours that linger.
98. Morris Old Premium Liqueur Tokay (500ml), $64
So close to perfection. It has amazing depth and concentration yet is fine, elegant and impeccably balanced. It’s tongue-coating, lingering, unforgettable.
99. Seppelt DP 63 Grand Muscat, $26.95
This is memorable because of its fantastic lush, velvety texture, butterscotch and toffee flavours and lingering vibrance.
100. Talijancich Julian James Red Liqueur (500ml), $35
An outstanding Swan Valley fortified with sweet, concentrated raisiny flavours, satiny smooth texture, wonderful richness and a fresh, lingering finish.