Wine Lists

20 Great Reds

15 Jul, 2019

Every year, Campbell Mattinson and James Halliday select their standout red wines under and over $30 for a bumper winter edition of Halliday magazine. Here’s a preview of that list of 50.

    10 great red wines under $30
    by Campbell Mattinson

    The Great Reds picks ahead start at $17 a bottle and rise to $28, ranging across pinot noir, shiraz, grenache, cabernet sauvignon and blends, and hailing from regions across the country. To see Campbell’s full list of 25 Great Reds, including one priced at just $11, get the latest issue of Halliday.

    Five great reds under $30
  • 2017 Turkey Flat Butchers Block Red

  • It’s amazing that you can buy a red wine partly grown on some of the oldest vines on the planet at this price. If it was twice the price, I’d still be recommending it. Made with the classic blend of grenache, shiraz and mataro grapes, it’s all about liquorice, raspberry, leather and woodsy spice notes. It’s mid-weight in the best of ways; it’s a beauty.

    $21 / Turkey Flat

  • 2018 Woods Crampton Little Giant Grenache

  • Grenache. For so long it’s been the workhorse variety of Australian red wine, but suddenly it’s become the darling. It’s because we’re now seeing perfumed, spicy, mid-weight wines with charm written all over them. This is one. It’s taken about 150 years to become an overnight success.

    $22 / Woods Crampton

  • 2016 Bremerton Coulthard Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Someone has to go in to bat for cabernet. Everything seems to be pinot noir this and shiraz that, meanwhile cabernet just keeps churning out the hits, often at crazy-good prices. This release from Langhorne Creek is warm and satisfying, but it’s dry and dusty too. It’s not too sweet and yet it’s loaded with fruit. It’s an archetypal ‘now or later’ red.

    $22 / Bremerton

  • 2017 Hay Shed Hill Pitchfork Cabernet Merlot

  • The West Aussies are fighting above their weight this year. With this kind of quality at this kind of price, no one’s complaining. This doesn’t pull out any big maneuvers, but it does everything well. A medium-weight serve of ripe dark berries, a smear of milk chocolate, a bit of eucalypt lift. No problems, happy days.

    $17 / Hay Shed Hill Wines

  • 2018 Riposte The Dagger Pinot Noir

  • Good, affordable pinot noir is usually described as a rare spoil, but this year, excellent options abound. Let’s hope international markets don’t discover the quality of our pinot any time soon. This offering combines sweet oak with perfectly ripened fruit, the result as satisfying as it is delicious.

    $22 / Riposte

    Great reds
  • 2016 Domenica Two Cells Shiraz

  • If you can find some of this, snap it up; the winery website might be your best bet. It’s a showcase of what Beechworth can do with this variety: berried fruit flavours present as perfumed, powerful, polished and persuasive. It’s a beautiful wine, spice notes flying here and there. If the asking price was doubled, no one would bat an eye.

    $25 / Domenica Wines

  • 2017 Main & Cherry Tempranillo

  • As a passing statement, it’s worth mentioning: this wine comes beautifully packaged. Fortunately, the wine quality is equal to the presentation. Cherry-cola fruit flavours, and wafts of anise and dried herb notes are pulled neatly together by the al dente-like texture of just-ripe tannin. It’s nicely done from all angles.

    $25 / Main & Cherry

  • 2017 Thomas Wines Two of Kind Shiraz

  • Shiraz from both the Hunter Valley and McLaren Vale team up to form one of the bargains of the year. It feels light on its feet and yet it has depth; it’s slippery-smooth and easy-going, yet its nuances are many. Red wine lovers, feel free to rejoice.

    $25 / Thomas Wines

  • 2017 West Cape Howe Hannah’s Hill Cabernet Malbec

  • This just makes you wonder why we ever spend big dollars on red wine. It’s a substantial red, high on robust, curranty flavours, flayed with floral scents, spread with tannin and absolutely built to last. Drink some now, and stash a few in a cool, dark place.

    $22 / West Cape Howe

  • 2017 Stonier Pinot Noir

  • If you like pinot noir, then you simply can’t go wrong here. This puts value on the tee and sends it flying straight and far down the fairway. Cherry-plum flavours, wood-smoke notes, strings of herbs; one sip and I had my credit card out. Occupational hazard.

    $28 / Stonier Wines

    10 great red wines over $30
    by James Halliday

    Off the back of tasting for the upcoming Halliday Wine Companion guide, James Halliday had exposure to thousands of top-tier red wines from around Australia, and his list of 25 in Halliday magazine always represents some of the country’s very best. Below, we’ve unlocked 10 of these front-running wines, with several that are cracking value, too.

    Five great red wines over $30
  • 2017 Hoddles Creek 1er Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

  • This is the standard-bearer for Hoddles Creek’s estate-grown pinots. Bright crimson-purple hue of moderate depth; the perfumed bouquet has spice, hints of violets (unexpected so soon, but don’t complain), cherry and plum, a gathering replayed on the stage of the wonderfully long palate.

    $50 / Hoddles Creek Estate

  • 2017 Clonakilla O’Riada Canberra District Shiraz

  • Spice, red flowers, pepper and wood smoke all appear and promptly disappear on the bouquet, reforming in a different order next time around, the ensuing palate a pond without a single ruffle. Red cherry infuses all of one’s senses with a constant framework of spice. The faultless balance will still be sustaining the wine 30 years hence. What value!

    $45 / Clonakilla

  • 2017 Mount Pleasant 1880 Vines Old Hill Vineyard Hunter Valley Shiraz

  • Bright crimson-purple; a masterpiece from the ground up to the wine in the glass. It is no more than medium-bodied, but it has extraordinary drive and length, achieved without any visible effort. Blackberry is joined by satsuma plum, then these two reveal savoury/earthy ripe tannins to put its terroir in letters writ large.

    $135 / Mount Pleasant

  • 2017 Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 1

  • A classic blend of 70% cabernet, 18% merlot, 8% malbec and 4% petit verdot. Hand-picked and sorted, crushed and destemmed, open-fermented, on skins for up to a month, matured for 12 months in French oak (35% new). This is the serious side of ’17. The aromas and flavours are still fresh and vibrant, but the palate, in particular, brooks no argument: this is a wine for protracted cellaring to allow the whipcord-tight structure to relax its grip; drink to 2047.

    $120 / Yarra Yering

  • 2015 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz

  • This was the first wine sold in bottle (’52) by Henschke, although it’s had to play second fiddle to Grange since ’58 when the latter came on. New oak is only 22%, and the majority is French. The vintage was excellent, the flavours deep, with soft blackberry and plum fruits wending their way across the palate, cushioned by cedary oak and carefully polished tannins. It’s utterly classic drinking, with unalloyed pleasure now, but no less in another 20 years.

    $225 / Henschke

    Five great red wines over $30
  • 2016 Houghton Gladstones Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon

  • From the Barley Vineyard in Wilyabrup, hand-picked, wild-fermented and matured in French barriques. Bright crimson-purple, and, as always, a high-quality wine with a compelling bouquet and rich, layered and extremely long palate. The tannins do their duty, and the oak is of high quality. The more you go back to it, the better it tastes.

    $94 / Houghton

  • 2017 S.C. Pannell Clarendon Smart Grenache

  • From 62yo vines on the Smart Vineyard in Clarendon, small-batch open-fermented, no whole bunches, 10 days on skins, 11 months in French oak. This is the bee’s knees, the bouquet surging from the glass before you’ve had time to collect your wits, gathering pace on the vibrant palate and lingering aftertaste, the sultry perfume with exotic spices initially brushed aside by the intensity of the palate where fine but persistent tannins sweep up pomegranate, cherry and wild strawberry as they pass through.

    $60 / S.C. Pannell

  • 2017 Best’s Bart’s Block 1966 Vines Great Western Shiraz

  • The vineyard was planted in ’66 to be released in ’20 to celebrate Best’s then-100-year history and custodianship of the property and vineyard. Fermented with 25% whole bunches, matured in French oak (20% new). The colour is brilliant crimson, deep but bright. Yes, there’s fantastic fruit that’s been handled with kid gloves, and yes, it’s got ’17 written all over it with its dazzling red fruits and (almost unseen) acidity to protect its freshness.

    $150 / Best’s Wines

  • 2016 Kellermeister Black Sash Barossa Valley Shiraz

  • Made from 100yo vines grown in Ebenezer, matured in 65% new French hogsheads. Terroir, vines, winemaker and vinification are all in absolute harmony. Balance and length. Barossa Valley shiraz simply doesn’t get better than this and given its screwcap it could outlive every mortal on this earth now, so I’ll be conservative and give it only 50 years.

    $75 / Kellermeister

  • 2017 Dawson & James Pinot Noir

  • From the Derwent Valley Meadowbank vineyard, this is one of Tasmania’s most consistent gold medal and trophy winners. Hand-picked, clones MV6 and Pommard (planted ’89), 25% whole bunches, 11 days on skins, matured in very high-quality French barrels (40% new). The depth of colour is extraordinary; the wine is packed full of fruit eerily similar to Pommard (Burgundy), the only question is the longevity of the wine, 20 years may not be enough, so perfect is the balance.

    $78 / Dawson & James

    ‘50 Great Reds’ is an annual edition of Halliday magazine. Become a member to get every issue first and pick up your copy today to see the full list.