Winter wine reviews by Tyson Stelzer

98 POINTS // $800


The Laird


The Laird has arisen to towering new heights under Hongell and Blieschke. Powerful, voluminous, dense. Exotic like none before it. The colour is astonishingly deep and impenetrable, and yet still vibrant at a full five years of age. A veritable Moroccan souk of intoxicating aromas that step up to even higher intensity on the palate. Black fruits of all sorts, dark chocolate, orange cream, liquorice and coal. It completely transcends its season. Oak has been perfectly played to its proportions, amplifying fine-grained tannins that effortlessly carry its considerable volume long and strong. Best yet? Hands down.

95 POINTS // $30


Black Beauty

Malbec 2020

Deep and vibrant in colour and in mood, this is a compact and dense Malbec of vibrant fruit, energetic acid line, impressive confidence and endurance. Great things are coming – give it at least five years, and prefereably ten.

95 POINTS // $26


Vineyard Estate

Eden Valley

Riesling 2021

Heggies personifies the cool, elegant, enduring mood of the fantastic 2021 harvest in Eden Valley. It’s tightly coiled around a core of pure lime, lemon and granny smith apple. Natural acidity shimmers like jet exhaust through a long and streamlined finished, tracing a high velocity trajectory that will accelerate this into one of the longest lived Heggies yet. Sensational value.

95 POINTS // $35


Eden ValleY

Riesling 2021

I’m fast falling for the 2021 vintage as my favourite since 2002 and it’s wines like this that confirm it. Electric straw green, fabulous energy of lime and granny smith apples, wonderful concentration and spice-filled depth. Epic line, length and sheer, voluminous personality that far, far exceed its bargain price. Drink now or forever.

95 POINTS // $50


The Virgilius


Yalumba’s 40 year Viognier journey now spans eight clones and vines dating from as early as 1980. Virgilius has long been the benchmark for the evolution of Viognier in Australia, tracking a path of ever heightened complexity, yet doing so with greater elegance and lower alcohol than ever. The latest rendition is varietally pinpoint exact, with a marvelous textural union of wild ferment creaminess, high altitude crunch and phenolic tension.

95 POINTS // $320

Maverick Wines

The Maverick

Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Maverick’s flagship is an enduring testimony to Shiraz and Cabernet from estate vineyards in Vine Vale and Pewsey Vale. There’s detail here. A precision built on perfectly ripe dark berry fruits, vibrant acid line and an impressively mineral tannin bed. A beautifully enduring, medium-bodied style.

94 POINTS // $28

Mountadam Vineyards



From the Mountadam vineyard, established in 1972, this is a flamboyant and powerful Chardonnay. Spicy ginger takes the lead, introducing a Chardonnay of tang and refinement. Phenolic grip, high class vanillin oak and high altitude acidity unite harmoniously on the finish.

90 POINTS // $25

Running with Bulls


Barossa Valley Grenache 2021

There’s fabulous versatility on the dining table on show here. The cool 2021 harvest makes for a compellingly authentic and restrained style, amplifying the signature rose hip fragrance, without diminishing the spicy red berry fruits that define Grenache. Fine-grained tannins and even acid flow declare an unashamedly elegantly-bodied Barossa red, perfect for lunchtime quaffing.

100 POINTS // $1500

100 Year Old Para Vintage Tawny 1922

In sheer presence, persistence and purpose, 100 Year Old remains in a league all of its own. Boasting a full, impenetrable black with a golden rim, all the blessings of an entire century of maturity are on display in inimitable impact of black olives, coal, antique sofa and exotic spice of all kinds. Its acid drive commands control and determination. An absolute sensation.

97 POINTS // $199

Yalumba Rare Aged Tawny 50 Years Old

In classy individually numbered squat bottles (this is bottle 2412 of Edition 1), this is a powerful, viscous old tawny that bears testimony to the considerable depth of age deep in the Yalumba cellars. At this grand old age, dry, bitter, nutty complexity is all-encompassing, and like most very old fortifieds, strictly for sipping slowly. Line and length tell a neverending story.

96 POINTS // $235

Henschke Mount Edelstone 2017

Mount Edelstone is a benchmark that I frequently pour as an exemplar of Australian Shiraz, and its sheer, steadfast consistency in tricky seasons like 2017 is what really sets it apart. There’s a rock-solid resilience to these 1912 vines that presents all the Chinese five spice character that we love of this site, but more than this, a supple, silky texture and gloriously velvetty tannins that hold the finish with enduring confidence.

96 POINTS // $900

Henschke Hill of Grace 2017

The wave of Chinese five spice that sets apart Hill of Grace is inimitable, and it plays out a compelling trail of elegance in the cool 2017 harvest. Brimming with savoury spice and exotics, its gentle core of red berry fruit is laced with fine-grained, supple tannins that weave their story through an effortless, lingering finish. ‘Vitality’ is the word that the Henschkes use to characterise this season, and it plays out in a glide of accelearation of natural acidity. A grand testimony to the resilience of these old vines, this is a Hill of Grace to savoury in its relative youth.

96 POINTS // $38

Brothers at War Peace Keeper Grenache 2021

A hand picked Grenache of deep colour and impressive depth of black fruits, intricately set of with a delightful splay of mixed spice and a pretty floral lift of violets, rose petals and pot pourri. Bright acidity and finely textured tannins, infused by 10 months ageing on lees in a ceramic egg, set off a finish of finesse, carry and flow.

96 POINTS // $40

Leo Buring Leonay Riesling 2021

In her two years at Leo Buring, Marie Clay has been responsible for two stunning Leonays! Wonderful purity of lemon, lime and granny smith apple. Fantastic tension and poise. A long, cool, mineral acid line of youthful energy and grand endurance.

95 POINTS // $65

Teusner MC Sparkling Shiraz 2017

I love the blackberry and satsuma plum purity of this sparkling Shiraz, eloquently framed in dark chocolate oak and enticing nuances of black pepper. The finish is well crafted and honed, with fine-grained tannins, cool acidity and judicious, well-gauged dosage finding harmony and balance. It will age impressively, too.

94 POINTS // $63

Henschke Johann's Garden 2020

Barossa Valley Grenache (80%) and Mataro from vines of more than 70 years of age, with all the poise of a cool end to the ripening season. Black and red berry fruits of all kinds are confidently plush yet focused, thanks to just the right interplay of velvet tannins and nicely integrated acidity.

93 POINTS // $40

Laughing Jack Moppa Hill Gold Seam Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Impressive depth of colour and flavour define a full-bodied Cabernet that delivers impact of blackcurrant, cassis and liquorice within a solid framework of dark chocolate oak. Fruit and oak tannins are built for the long-haul, confronting at this age, with grand potential.

92 POINTS // $50

David Franz Long Gully Road Ancient Vine Semillon 2020

A Semillon that projects all the depth and character of not only 137 year old vines but also wild fermentation and 14 months maturation in old French oak. With preserved lemon, cut grass and a hint of dried hay, it juxtaposes slippery texture with a tense acid line. Holding impressive line and length, it will appreciate time to fully integrate and grow into itself.

92 POINTS // $70

Hentley Farm Black Beauty Sparkling Shiraz

The 2021 disgorgement represents the most serious Black Beauty yet, boasting a brighter fruit profile (more crunchy and red-fruited than typical black fruits), more finely poised tannins and more lively acid profile, all well juxtaposed by balanced dosage.

91 POINTS // $20

Heggies Vineyard Estate Eden Valley Botrytis Riesling 2021

There’s a particularly luscious, honeyed, spicy richness to this vintage, well gauged to counter the energy of this cool harvest. It brims with marmalade, dried peach and spice of all kinds, with rising sweetness on a succulent finish. A touch of reductive complexity serves to lend some savoury interest.

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