James Halliday’s Top 100 Wines of 2015
Whites Under $20:
95 pts d’Arenberg The Dry Dam Riesling 2015
An utterly impressive wine from a winery best known for its flotilla of red wines; its fruit has the juicy flavor and mouthfeel of the kind expected of a dry Mosel Riesling; the intensity of the fruit is heightened by the crisp, crunchy acidity on the finish and aftertaste. The Dry Dam name is an anachronism.
Whites Over $20:
97 pts Giant Steps Tarraford Chardonnay 2014
The bouquet is arresting in its complexity, with a faint echo of funk, but the palate defines this wine, with its ripples and whirlpools of white peach, grapefruit and creamy cashew, brought to a driving finish thanks to its natural acidity.
97 pts Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon 2009
Little or no color change; the bouquet is distinctly aromatic, but still focused on primary fruit, not toast or honey; the palate is electrifying, drawing saliva from the mouth with its mix of unsweetened lemon juice/lemon zest and life-giving acidity, the DNA of great Semillon, protected for decades by the screwcap.
Reds Under $20:
94 pts d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2012
Ah, how much is this wine worth when d’Arenberg has two ’12 Single Vineyard Grenaches at $103 each? This is a drop-dead bargain, its purple fruit flavors given shape by fine, savory/earthy tannins and nine months in used oak.
Reds Over $20:
98 pts Cullen Diana Madeline 2013
A 73/20/7% blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Franc, aged for 17 months in French barriques (60% new). Cullen’s greatest Bordeaux blend. The bouquet is perfumed, the palate fluid and graceful, notwithstanding the intensity of its cassis (et al) fruits which give the wine its awesome length, fine tannins its balance.
Reds Over $20 (Best of the Rest):
97 pts Innocent Bystander Mea Culpa Syrah 2013