James Halliday’s Top 100 Wines of 2014
This year 1582 wines were submitted for the Top 100. Of the 80 table wines selected, 25 came from Western Australia, Margaret River contributing 17 of these; 20 came from Victoria, 12 from the Yarra Valley; South Australia contributed 19, evenly spread across its regions; the Hunter Valley produced nine of the New South Wales total of 13; and three came from Tasmania. If the eight sparkling wines are included, Tasmania’s share increased to seven. All up 29 regions and 13 varieties featured in the top 88.
Simply to complete this overview, the wines came from 504 of Australia’s best wineries. There were 177 whites wines under $20, 376 white wines over $20, 229 reds under $20 and 716 reds over $20. In all 41 varieties were on show, the lion’s shares to Chardonnay (186), Shiraz (383), Riesling (91), Pinot Noir (104), Cabernet Sauvignon and blends (196), Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc or blends (171) and 84 sparkling wines.
What do those statistical tea leaves tell us? Well, for openers, Australia’s wine offer is more diverse than that of any other country, even without the inclusion of the magnificent fortified wines of North East Victoria and the Barossa Valley.
Whites over $20
98 pts Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2011
There is always cause to genuflect in the presence of chardonnay royalty. It imposes its will without a flicker of effort; the line between citrus and stone fruit, oak and mineral, comes and goes, leaving you grasping at straws; flawless balance, line and length.
97 pts Cullen Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013
A 71/29% blend, wild yeast-fermented, no added acid; 87% matured for 5 months in French barriques (62% new). Cullen makes exceptionally complex wines that rely on gentle persuasion, not brute force. The flavors are so attractive and mouthfilling now, it is easy to forget the wine will mature with grace.
Reds over $20
98 pts Cullen Diana Madeline 2012
A biodynamically grown 76/17/7% blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Franc; 19 months in French barriques (38% new). The palate has astonishing power and length given its modest alcohol. You might well be looking at a wine from Bordeaux’s Left Bank, coiled up like a spring, but perfectly balanced, the finish almost painfully long.
98 pts Yeringberg 2012
A true five-varietal field blend, all grapes included once bunch sorting has been completed, Cabernet Sauvignon contributing the lion’s share; will stand out in the future as one of the greatest, its glorious red and black fruits folded within a silky tannin fabric, French oak totally integrated.
97 pts Yarra Yering Underhill Shiraz 2012
The promise of the excellent crimson-purple color is duly delivered; the bouquet has a fragrant blend of red fruits, spice and French oak, the medium-bodied but very long and pure palate with the full spectrum of flavors, but it is the finesse and elegance that make the wine special.
96 pts Giant Steps Applejack Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2013
Bright, deep and clear crimson; the bouquet is very fragrant, the palate brimming with plum and red and black cherry fruit, yet retains a fluid grace, reflecting a low-intervention regime in the winery. A worthy successor to the acclaimed trophy-winning ’12.