2023 Varietal Winners

Top Rated: Other Whites and Blends

By The Tasting Team

The depth and breadth of the top end of other white varieties in Australia is exemplified in a final role call of no fewer than 12 different varieties and blends hailing from eight regions. Our final judging exemplified this diversity, with a Hunter albariño, Yarra marsanne, Mornington savagnin and Tasmanian gris rising to the top. Indicative of the importance in this category of building texture and complexity in the winery, our winner enjoyed wild fermentation, skin contact, partial barrel fermentation and lees age.

2023 Other Whites and Blends of the Year

Briar Ridge Vineyard Albariño 2021, Hunter Valley

95 points | Price when tasted $30

Briar Ridge Vineyard Albariño 2021, Hunter Valley

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From vines planted in 1962. Released as a five-year-old wine. Chenin blanc from Swan Valley is a national, vinous treasure that's guided with expertise by the great crew at John Kosovich Wines. This is surprisingly fresh for its relative maturity, imbued with strong, lemony scents with accents of honeycomb, wet fern, pineapple and tonic water – very attractive aromas. The palate is squeaky and crisp, showing more of the lemony characters of the bouquet with additional dashes of tonic water, bay leaf and briny minerality with some chalkiness in texture, too. There's gentle maturation in play endowing the wine with savoury elements, and some honey-butter notes. It's in a brilliant place, vivid for the variety and maturing graciously (and I suspect very long). Delicious drinking ensues. – Mike Bennie

The 2023 Halliday Wine Companion is available now. Secure your copy of Australia's most comprehensive wine guide here – and at all good bookstores.

*This is an edited extract from the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion, with reviews by Dave Brookes, Jane Faulkner, Ned Goodwin MW, James Halliday, Erin Larkin, Jeni Port, Philip Rich and chief editor Tyson Stelzer.

Top image credit: Wine Australia.