From the tasting team

In honour of the runners-up

By Tyson Stelzer

5 Aug, 2022

These wines may not have won first place at the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Awards, but are deserving of your attention nonetheless.

This year’s Halliday Awards judging was characterised by photo finishes. While we’ve trumpeted the winners from the rooftops, there’s a spectacular list of runners-up deserving of your attention.

At our team judging in March, each of the eight tasters nominated their top wine in each of 18 varieties and styles to make up a tremendous line up of 120 wines to be judged blind.

Each member cast their vote using the Borda count method (as per wine show best practice). In a big class like shiraz with 13 wines in the running, each taster awarded 12 points to their top wine, 11 to their second top, and so on down to zero for their least favourite. Thus there were 624 voting points to go around for this class, emphasising just how close it was when there were just one, two or three points separating the top wines. When the results were so close, there was a revote on the top two, three or four wines.

When we lined up 11 wines in the chardonnay class, our three top wines received identical votes, and on a revote there were only two points between them, with Shaw + Smith Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay 2020 and Oakridge Wines 864 Single Block Release Drive Block Funder & Diamond Vineyard Chardonnay 2020 narrowly missing the trophy.

Tyson smelling a glass of red wine at the Awards judging.Tyson Stelzer at the 2023 Awards judging.

In the sparkling white category, there were only three voting points between the winner and Bellebonne Blanc de Blancs 2015 and Chandon Australia Vintage Blanc de Blancs 2016. In cabernet and family, Cullen Wines Diana Madeline 2020 was just two votes behind the winner.

For the Sauvignon Blanc of the Year, last year’s winner of Terre à Terre Crayeres Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2021 only missed out by one vote on repeating its win. And in the fortified class, All Saints Estate Museum Rutherglen Muscat NV was just two votes behind the winner.

The results were equally nail-biting in the final taste-off for White Wine, Red Wine and Wine of the Year. There were only two points separating Henschke Julius Riesling 2021 and Stella Bella Wines Luminosa Chardonnay 2020 from winning White Wine of the Year, and the three could not even be separated on a revote, necessitating a third round of voting.

In the final judging for Wine of the Year, four first place votes went to both Best’s Wines Foudre Ferment Riesling 2021 and Mount Mary Quintet 2020, with the Best’s winning on just one additional second place vote.

Don’t miss these brilliant runners-up this year!