Wine Lists

Australia's greatest red wines

James Halliday by James Halliday

Ever wondered what wines are Australia’s greatest reds? Us too. That’s why we asked James Halliday, who shares his selections here.

I’ve been tasting and collecting wines for more than 50 years and became seriously involved over 45 years ago. Thus it was inevitable that I would be in many right places on numerous occasions and participated in some tastings that can never be duplicated. So much so, indeed, that the inclusion of one wine can demand the inclusion of siblings from the same maker. Thus my 10 best-ever wines are just over 20, but come from 10 wineries.

1. The two greatest Granges - 1952 and 1953
I have tasted these wines on many occasions over the past 35-plus years, their colour, richness of berry (sometimes red, more usually black) fruit, plush texture and mouthfeel beyond compare.

2. Penfolds Bin 60A Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz 1962
I consider this wine to be the greatest Australian red wine ever made. It is the most luminous, silky, yet incredibly intense, long, and complex wine; its balance utterly perfect.

3. Mountain A Dry Red 1937 and Mount Henry 1944
Maurice O’Shea stands alongside Max Schubert; the latter being the creator of Grange, Maurice O’Shea the maker of very different wines at Mount Pleasant in the Hunter Valley. His wines (shiraz, often with a touch of pinot noir) have a unique sense of place, a fragrance and a suite of flavours that have background nuances of leather and earth, but with fruit flavours always present. The Mountain A Dry Red (tasted July ’84) was ethereally delicate, yet still intense and long, and the Mount Henry (tasted April 1996) was still amazingly fragrant. They are just two of many. 

4. Lindemans Bin 3100 and Lindemans 3110, both from 1965 
My notes on these wines from 1980 are identical to those from the past few years. They have a greater depth of colour than any other Hunter Valley shiraz I have ever tasted. They fill the mouth with unctuously rich, velvety and soft black fruits, yet are not the least bit warmed by alcohol. If professionally recorked now (I would be tempted to re-bottle them with a screwcap), they will easily see out the next 52 years and be full of life at the age of 100.