The best thing about Australian wines is that you don’t need to spend a bundle for a premium wine experience. Whether you’re thirsty for the delights of a dry-style Rosé, the herbaceous zing of a quality Sauvignon Blanc or the mouth-filling satisfaction of a big Aussie red like Shiraz, it’s easier than you might think to find quality wines that punch well above their weight.
With that in mind, we asked Wine Selectors Tasting Panellist and 2019 Len Evans Tutorial Dux Adam Walls to put together what he thinks are the 10 best wines on offer at the moment for less than $25 – each of which our Tasting Panel unanimously assessed to be of award-winning quality – ready to drink now or, in some cases, pop away in the cellar for a couple of years for a special occasion. Enjoy!
IF YOU’RE A LOVER OF WHITE WINES
HOWARD VINEYARD ROSÉ 2019
Howard Vineyard winemaker Tom Northcott is pretty serious about his Rosé, and it shows in this lovely Adelaide Hills expression. Very pale pink in the glass, it’s light and fresh with an underlying purity from start to finish, showing white and red fruits, attractive spice characters and mouth-watering acidity. “Howard Vineyard is a strong contender for the best Rosé producer in their region,” says Adam. “They’re regular winners of the Rosé Trophy at the Adelaide Hills Wine Show, after all, and they’ve nailed the modern Australian Rosé with this one – dry, savoury, and so easy to sip.” Snap one up for yourself here.
WICKS ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019
Wicks Estate have a deft hand when it comes to this variety, and this Gold medal-winning example from their wonderful 2019 vintage is no exception. Textural with intense varietal characters of tropical fruit and cut grass, it has vibrant, mouth-watering acidity, attractive minerality and a complex, satisfying finish. “We all know that the Adelaide Hills are a mecca for lovers of Sauvignon Blanc,” says Adam, “but one of the worst-kept secrets around is how good Wicks are at making it – they just keep getting better year after year.” Pick one up for your table here.
ANGULLONG PINOT GRIGIO 2019
Angullong has a supremely simple philosophy when it comes to winemaking – it all starts in the vineyard, and like Madonna the role of the winemaker is to merely encourage the grapes to express themselves. Their 2019 Pinot Grigio is a classic cool climate expression, with vibrant flavours of pear and apple, beautifully balanced with a clear line of acidity and a lovely finish. “Crisp, dry and fresh,” is how Adam describes its charms. “It makes any generic Italian Pinot Grigio look boring, really, with a fruit intensity that sets it apart from many others.” Try this deserving Trophy-winner for yourself here.
ROBERT OATLEY SIGNATURE SERIES GREAT SOUTHERN RIESLING 2017
Few names in Australian wine have the cachet of Robert Oatley, which for four decades has been considered among the great wine labels in the country. Their Great Southern vineyards have helped shape the perception of the region as a site of high-quality Riesling, and the Robert Oatley Signature Series Great Southern Riesling 2017 illustrates why. “From any other country, a Riesling this good would be $40,” says Adam. “With Australian Riesling, the quality is always leagues beyond what you might expect from the price – and this one is very good indeed.” Ready to pour some top Aussie Riesling? Get yours here.
IRVINE THE ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2018
If you’re after a classic, cool climate Chardonnay, put this number from the Eden Valley at the top of your list. Dry, savoury and nutty in style, Irvine The Estate Chardonnay 2018 shows ripe yet refined peach and melon fruit and strong toasty vanillin oak. “Affordable Chardonnay that’s also great quality is a bit of a unicorn, but Irvine has shown us how it can be done,” says Adam. “Fresh, powerful and balanced – what more could you ask for in a Chardy?” Better still, a little time in the cellar will assure further integration and complexity. Want to save on great Chardonnay? Start here.
IF RED WINES ARE MORE YOUR THING…
CHALMER MONTEVECCHIO ROSSO FIELD BLEND 2018
One of the great developments in Australian winemaking has been the increasing number of winemakers exploring new wave varieties – and among the pioneers have been the Chalmers family, who’ve made a real name for themselves with Italian-inspired ones like this wonderful red field blend. “The Chalmers family vineyard at Heathcote is like a Garden of Eden for alternative varieties,” says Adam. And the Chalmer Montevecchio Rosso Field Blend 2018 shows off its fruits beautifully – fresh, vibrant and delicious, it is a wine that, according to Adam, “is screaming out for Italian food for some good company.” Order a bottle for yourself here.
BLEASDALE SECOND INNINGS MALBEC 2017
Bleasdale have mastered the art of making world-class Malbec, as demonstrated by this deserving Gold medal-winner from the Langhorne Creek region. Medium bodied yet very flavoursome with a supple mix of red and black fruits, hints of dried herb and leather, the soft tannins and supple acidity of the Bleasdale Second Innings Malbec 2017 make it an absolute treat. “Bleasdale are one of the best-value wineries in the country, no doubt about it,” says Adam. “Malbec is their flagship variety, and this is a superb example – there’s no way you’ll settle for just one glass.” Make this Gold medal-winning Malbec yours here.
ST JOHN’S ROAD THE RESILIENT GRENACHE 2018
From the hands of winemaking royalty, Phil Lehman, comes one of the best Grenache-based wines in the country of recent years – at a simply incredible price. Delicious and modern in a fruit-focussed style, the St John’s Road The Resilient Grenache 2018 shows a seductively silky texture driving a fine mix of red fruit with a slippery mouthfeel and moreish finish. “This is an elegant and polished Grenache that is so easy to drink,” says Adam. “The 2019 is the follow up vintage to a wine that took out pretty much every trophy at the 2018 Barossa Wine Show – and a worthy successor at that.” Got a thirst for a modern-style red? Save on this great Grenache here.
OAKRIDGE OVER THE SHOULDER PINOT NOIR 2019
“The Pinot from Oakridge sometimes get overlooked in the stampede for their Chardonnay,” says Adam of the Oakridge Over the Shoulder Pinot Noir 2019, “but this one should be on the list of every lover of Pinot Noir.” One sip is enough to show why, too – it’s another superbly-made Pinot from the Yarra Valley experts at Oakridge. Elegant with a supple red fruit core, attractive cedar spice, silken white pepper-like tannins and well-judged oak, it’s a truly mouth-watering wine offering exceptional value, which you can find here.
HEAD WINES CELLAR RESERVE SHIRAZ 2018
The Cellar Reserve range from Head Wines exists to show off regional fruit at its best, and few vintages have performed better than this. “2018 was as close to a 10/10 vintage for the Barossa Valley as you can get,” says Adam. Full of flavour, the Head Wines Cellar Reserve Shiraz 2018 shows classic Shiraz power from start to finish, with a deep core of black fruit, attractive leather, pepper and five-spice complexity. Add to that its savoury tannins and persistent oak on the finish, and you have a stunning drop for the price. “Alex Head has delivered a wine that will excite every lover of Shiraz,” asserts Adam. Add it to your cellar today here.