89

2014 Thistledown Great Escape Cool Climate Textural Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

( £13-15, 12.5%, Alliance Wine )

A fruity, modern Aussie Chardonnay from the cool (well coolish) Adelaide Hills, where the oak is unintrusive and the pure pear and peach fruit is allowed to express itself. The result is one of those whites you want to glugg by the glass in your nearest wine bar. 

Drinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, White, Chardonnay
93

2015 Thistledown Suilven Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

( £20-£30, 13%, Alliance Wine )

One of those wines that tastes every bit as good as it looks, this Scottish/Australian collaboration eschews the leaner, reductive, early picked style that’s favoured by some winemakers Down Under in favour of something a little more substanial and textured. Deftly oaked, oatmealy and refreshing, with a focus and minerality that wouldn’t look out of place in the Côte de Beaune.

Drinking window: 2016-19Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Australia, White, Chardonnay
89

2014 De Bortoli La Bohème Act Three, Pinot Gris & Friends, Yarra Valley, Victoria

( £13.95, 13.5%, Slurp )

One for opera buffs, or possibly just bohemians, this is an Aussie take on an Alsace-style blend, based on Pinot Gris. Aromatic and appealing, with orchard fruit and spring blossom on the nose, it segues into waxy, pear and apple spice flavours and a tangy finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2016-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, White, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio

The shock of the new

by Matt Walls
When tasting my way through a large number of unfamiliar wines, there are a few tell-tale signs that I’ve encountered something special. Firstly, an involuntary smile creeps over my face....
90

2007 Mount Pleasant Cellar Aged Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley

( £14.95-£17.80, 11%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Hedonism, Slurp )

Not many white wines age as wll as Hunter Valley Semillon and this is well up to speed, as its haul of medals (plastered all over the front label) testifies. It’s just starting to shift into another gear, developing the toasty notes that are so typical of the style. Refreshing, waxy and taut with custard, honeysuckle and citrus peel notes. Long and satisfying.

Drinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, White, Semillon
91

2013 Bleasdale Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills

( £9.95, 12.5%, The Wine Society )

Anyone who doubts that the Australian Chardonnay revolution is one of the most exciting trends in the world, right now, booting the old “sunshine in a glass” cliché into the Great Southern Ocean, should join The Wine Society and get hold of a bottle of this remarkable wine from the cool climate Adelaide Hills. Burgundy could only dream of providing such value at under £10. Fresh, minerally and yeasty, with subtle oak and a savoury undertone, it tastes like a really good Saint Aubin. Drink over the next five years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Australia, White, Chardonnay
94

2013 Thousand Candles Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria

( £45-50, 13.5%, Alliance Wine )

Bill Downie is best known for his extraordinary Pinot Noirs, which rank among the best in Australia, but he’s no slouch when it comes to making Syrah either, as this Southern Yarra Valley example demonstrates. Spicy, refreshing and subtly oaked this is made using what Downie calls “enhanced biodynamics”. The acidity, structure and perfume of the wine, with a savoury undertone from whole bunch fermentation, are deliciously well integrated. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2012 Fowles Wine, Are You Game? Shiraz, Victoria

( N/A, 13.7%, Enotria & Coe )

Ignore the nudge nudge, wink wink name of this wine (it’s only a bit of fun anyway) and concentrate, instead, on what’s in the glass. Violets, bramble and some gentle spices, with a touch of cracked pepper make this a refreshing, easy drinking red. A dash of Tempranillo adds extra interest here.

Drinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2012 Innocent Bystander Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria

( N/A, 13%, Liberty Wines )

Phil Sexton’s Yarra Valley winery is one of the most innovative in the region. It’s got a lot of tourist appeal, but it’s wines are deadly serious, too. This is a typically elegant, refined red, with fine-grained tannins, subtle pepper spice and plush raspberry and blueberry flavours and a minerally, refreshing finish.

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2013 Thistledown, Thorny Devil, Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia

( £15.99, 15% )

Juicy, easy drinking Barossa Grenache that carries its alcohol lightly. The oak is well handled here on this wine overseen by Masters of Wine, Giles Cooke and Fergal Tynan. Raspberry and wild strawberry fruit, a touch of oak and a ripe, satisfying finish. Try it chilled for maximum pleasure. 

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz