Wine Lists

Nine of Australia’s cult wine releases

By Halliday Wine Companion

24 May, 2019

The wines here are notoriously hard to find, but we’re arming you with all the information you need to lay your hands on them.

The following wines are made in tiny amounts, which means if you want to get them, you have to act fast. That’s why we’re sharing information about their next releases. Add a reminder on your phone. Circle it on the calendar. Choose the avenue that works best for you and then sign up for the mailing list and follow the wineries on social media too. 

Many hallowed Australian wineries could have been included in this list (hello, Henschke), but ultimately, only especially small operations were chosen. Each of the producers here makes under 10,000 cases per year (and for the most part much less).

Wendouree Clare Valley
The wines: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and blends
Releasing in: July

Wendouree would have to be one of the biggest cult legends in Australian wine. It was established in 1895, and not much has changed since. It has no website, no cellar door, and it’s been making roughly the same amount of its six red wines for more than 40 years. Those wines will be releasing in early July and are set to sell out in less than two months – as they do every year. You’ll need to get on the mailing list to buy them. Your best bet? Write a letter asking nicely to be added to the list and post it today. There might be a wait, but it will be worth it, so do what it takes.

Box 27, Clare, SA 5453 | 08 8842 2896

Tolpuddle Vineyard Tasmania
The wines: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Releasing in: September

The beautiful Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of this southern Tasmania winery are on the hit lists of industry insiders everywhere. With the crack team behind the scenes including Michael Hill Smith MW and Martin Shaw (of Shaw + Smith), winemaker Adam Wadewitz and vineyard manager Carlos Souris, the quality of the wines is no surprise. Always in limited supply, the next release will be in September, and you can join the allocation list for peace of mind. 

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Jasper Hill Heathcote
The wines: Shiraz, Nebbiolo and blends
Releasing in: August

At the end of August each year, Jasper Hill hosts a cellar door party to release its new wines, pouring them side by side with back-vintages to highlight how they’ll age. Famed for their luscious, long-lived styles, people make the pilgrimage for these wines year after year. “We’re not a bells and whistles winery, so it’s nice to see so many people return for the launch of our range,” says Elva Laughton, wife of winemaker Ron Laughton. If you can’t make it to the event in the second last weekend of August, the wines will be available online from then too. Get in quick. 


Home Hill Tasmania
The wine: Pinot Noir 
Releasing in: October

This small Tassie winery has won a raft of awards, including the coveted Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for its Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir. James Halliday has also sung this wine praises, recently scoring it a rare 99 points and describing it as “awe-inspiring”. While the 2018 vintage would typically have come out around now, Home Hill is leaving it a bit later this year, as the bushfires that affected Tasmania during vintage mean there may not be a 2019 wine. All the more reason to mark this on the calendar and snap some up.

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Ochota Barrels Adelaide Hills
The wines: Riesling, Syrah, Grenache, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer and more
Releasing in: August and November

Taras Ochota’s limited-release labels have a diverse following, and he never has trouble selling out his quirkily named range. Taras is one of a new wave of winemakers in the Basket Range and beyond that has taken Australia – and the world – by storm. He makes a number of intriguing wines, but recent top performers include The Slint Vineyard Chardonnay and Kid of the Black Hole Riesling, which will be releasing in November. There will be more to look out for in August, too, as part of his release for spring. 

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Duke’s Vineyard Porongurup
The wine: Riesling
Releasing in: July

You might remember Duke’s Vineyard from the Halliday Wine Companion Awards, with its Magpie Hill Reserve Riesling the reigning Wine of the Year. Not only was this the first white wine to be awarded a 99-point score by James Halliday, but it also retailed at just $35. Little wonder, then, that by the time the award had been announced, it had already sold out. The next vintage of this wine has been kept at a similar price and will be available from July 1.

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Ravensworth Murrumbateman
The wine: Gamay Noir
Releasing in: September

Chef-turned-winemaker Bryan Martin makes a range of exciting wines, but his Gamay Noir from the high country of Tumbarumba in New South Wales is one of the most sought-after. The small-batch beauty is being bottled now ready for release in spring. Other Ravensworth wines to try include the Sangiovese and Riesling. Bryan also works alongside Tim Kirk at Clonakilla, which is another cult Australian winery celebrated for its Shiraz Viognier.

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Ashton Hills Adelaide Hills
The wine: Pinot Noir
Releasing in: September

Described by James Halliday as ‘one of the great pinot noir producers in Australia’, the Ashton Hills Reserve Pinot Noir is made in tiny amounts and only in the best years. None was available last year, so the winery is particularly excited to be releasing the next vintage this September. As well as its spectacular Pinot Noir, Ashton Hills is well known for its Riesling and Sparkling Shiraz.

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Silkman Wines Hunter Valley
The wines: Semillon and Chardonnay
Releasing in: October

Silkman Wines is the venture of husband-and-wife team Shaun and Liz Silkman, who are both talented winemakers with experience around the world. They focus on the Hunter classics of chardonnay, semillon and shiraz, and all of their wines showcase exceptional quality. They’ve scooped up a tonne of awards across the board, but some highlights include getting the top gong in the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge for the 2014 Reserve Chardonnay and Best Semillon for their 2017 Reserve.

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