2023 Varietal Winners

Top Rated: Sparkling White

By The Tasting Team

Australian sparkling is increasingly coming of age, finding ever greater refinement and distinction. The sparkling epicentre of Tasmania again occupies almost 40 per cent to take a strong lead in our shortlist. Orange has leapt forward into second place this year, with five inclusions, pipping Tasmania and greater Victoria at the post for the top gong.

There was but one vote between Chandon Australia Vintage Blanc de Blancs 2016 and Bellebonne Blanc de Blancs 2015 on first vote from the panel. Gilbert Family Wines Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay 2016 was a close third place, and shot to the lead when the three were put to the revote. The cool mainland zones of Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley and King Valley each mounted a noble challenge. The diversity of the balance of our list is exciting, with Pemberton, Margaret River and Pyrenees all joining the ranks. Even prosecco has twice fought its way to the top this year.

2023 Best Sparkling White Wine of the Year in Australia

Gilbert Family Wines Blanc de Blancs 2016, Orange

97 points | Price when tasted $66

Gilbert Family Wines Blanc de Blancs 2016, Orange

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Clearly a great deal of work has gone into the sparkling wine programme here. The wines are stellar. Intentionally tensile and bone dry, with zero dosage. Given that natural acidity in Australia is never Champagne’s equal, a savvy move. The partial oak fermentation, too, endowing breadth and grip across the mid palate, while toning the fervent drive of quince, bitter almond and citrus zest. Toast, too, after 50 months on lees. Long and of such exactitude that it pulls the saliva from the mouth in readiness for the next glass. And the next. A great fizz. – Ned Goodwin

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*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.