This morning, Halliday Wine Companion announced its highly anticipated Top 100 Wineries 2023 selected by chief editor, Campbell Mattinson, a milestone moment for the authority on Australian wine and an opportunity for wine lovers nationwide to recognise the best of the best.
The newly acclaimed list recognises the finest Australian producers of now who put their wine first in every aspect. Whether it be at the bottle shop or perusing a wine menu, the aim of the Top 100 Wineries list is for consumers to become familiar with the nation’s leaders and revel in their selection of fine wines.
“These are the producers that, essentially, guarantee that you’ll always drink well,” says Campbell Mattinson.
This year’s winners will come as no surprise to wine lovers, with Oakridge in the Yarra Valley taking out top spot, a credit to its consistency and quality across all the wines it produces. South Australian winery Yangarra came a close second with a dominant selection of ‘revolutionary’ wines. Margaret River’s Cullen Wines was listed in seventh spot with a unique on-site offering, and the Hunter Valley was included in the top 10 with Tyrrell’s Wines being recognised for its ‘remarkable’ selection.
The selection was no easy process and required a set list of criteria to ensure wineries had an equal chance to make it on the prestigious Top 100 Wineries list. Each winery had to have recently submitted wines to the Companion and the Halliday Tasting Team, and quality had to be as close to guaranteed as possible. In addition, high scoring wines were of absolute relevance and so too was consistency – if the range of wines isn’t consistently good, then it has been downgraded in calculations.
“Vineyards, varieties, vintages, and sub-regions are critical, of course, but the producer – the decision makers in the process – are of great importance and are often the deciding factor,” says chief editor, Campbell Mattinson.
“In short, this a list of producers who know, in both their heart and in their head, that consumers don’t owe them a living. This is a list of producers who are prepared to stake their reputation on every single wine they release.”
Across the board, Victoria led the vote with 42 wineries included in the Top 100 Wineries including 15 from the Yarra Valley. The list also recognised 28 South Australian wineries with eight set in the Barossa Valley, 13 wineries were included under Western Australia, nine for Tasmania and eight for New South Wales.
A selection of the Top 100 Wineries winners will make their way to Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne next month to celebrate the momentous occasion and give consumers an opportunity to taste their award-winning drops and experience the highest level of wine production.
@winecompanion – winecompanion.com.au
TOP 100 WINERIES – TOP 10
1. Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley
The best way to drive a brand is to drive it with vineyards. Oakridge has been doing that to an elaborate degree for a long time now – if anything the wines continue to improve. Indeed, Oakridge was for some time renowned as a master of chardonnay, which it still is, but it’s become overwhelmingly clear that Oakridge is a master of pretty much all the varieties in its orbit. Oakridge won the Best Value title at our annual awards this year but really, even with value aside, the wines are great, full stop.
2. Yangarra Estate Vineyard, McLaren Vale
No Australian winery has performed better than Yangarra over the past decade. It has covered all bases so well that the word dominant comes to mind. It has helped revolutionise McLaren Vale grenache, it has taken Rhône whites to new levels, it’s put single-block shiraz on a pedestal and it’s been a leader of quality, drink-now, preservative-free wines. Yangarra makes good wine at good prices and it also makes the best of the best; sometimes it even combines the two.
3. Mount Pleasant, Hunter Valley
There’s an argument to say that Mount Pleasant is Australia’s most important wine estate. It’s certainly ground zero of fine Australian table wine thanks to the legendary exploits of its founding winemaker, Maurice O’Shea, from the 1920s onwards. But successive winemakers, from Phil Ryan to Jim Chatto to Adrian Sparks, have inched the wines of this estate to higher and higher levels, to the point now where a whole series of its current-release wines are classics in the making.
4. Giant Steps, Yarra Valley
For the past 20 years, the reputation of Giant Steps has inched higher. The land has been its brand; it has been, and continues to be, the champion of the single site, especially when it comes to chardonnay and pinot noir. Everywhere you look in the Giant Steps Yarra Valley range you find wines of structural integrity that are as delicious as they are complex. It’s a case of Giant Steps by name, giant quality by nature. Its 2022 Applejack Pinot Noir won Best Pinot Noir in the latest Companion, but that’s just the tip of an amazing quality iceberg.
5. By Farr, Geelong
Every year, in any list, By Farr winery is one of the first picked. This is a single-minded producer if ever there was one; this is a producer interested in quality and nothing else. This is viognier, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz, planted in volcanic loams and quartz gravels, drilled down to the specifics of site and soil and hands. There is, simply, no such thing as a boring By Farr wine.
6. Grosset, Clare Valley
The reputation is built on riesling – the latest 2023 releases are outstanding – but the Gaia cabernet-blend and Adelaide Hills chardonnay have long been excellent too, and are in absolute top form. Slowly though, over the years, the Grosset range has grown to also include fiano, shiraz (blended with nero d’avola) and others, and with every new step the overall quality bar has never even quivered, let alone dropped. In short, you cannot go wrong with any Grosset wine.
7. Cullen Wines, Margaret River
Vanya Cullen was on a hiding to nothing when she took over the family winery in Margaret River in the 1990s. It was already iconic and already ensconced on the Langton’s classification of fine wine; the best she could achieve, it seemed, was more of the same. And yet, somehow, inch by inch, she has made both the estate and the wines that it grows even better, and more exciting, and more authentic, and she has done so in a way that could only have been achieved by her. Vanya Cullen is a unique talent on a special site; the result is greatness.
8. Tyrrell’s Wines, Hunter Valley
What Tyrrell’s has for the Hunter Valley is nothing short of remarkable. This family produces terrific wine after terrific wine, most especially with chardonnay, semillon and shiraz but really, with whatever it turns its hand to. In fine-wine terms Tyrrell’s has been a pillar of strength for its region, and a saviour at times, and it’s done so principally by keeping its range perpetually alive with beautiful, site-specific, regionally-true wines.
9. Bindi Wines, Macedon Ranges
If you moved Bindi 100 metres to the left or to the right, geographically, the wines would taste different, or at least that’s the impression they create. Bindi is one of the ultimate Australian wine estates, singular in its quality vision, completely unique to its site. The shtick here is of unhurried, thoughtful, inquisitive excellence. The wines, chardonnay and pinot noir, are reflective of this approach, and of their land. The gradual addition of ‘Dhillon’ wines to the range, from offsite vineyards, has only added to Bindi's reputation.
10. Mount Mary, Yarra Valley
At its best, Mount Mary is the best there is. For lovers of Australian wine, it is heart, mind, soul and saviour. It’s Triolet white blend, pinot noir, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon are all Yarra Valley benchmarks, both historically and currently. Mount Mary should be the cornerstone of any serious Australian wine collection. The wines are as elegant as they are ageworthy. This is Australian wine greatness.
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About Campbell Mattinson
Campbell Mattinson fell in love with wine in the mid 1990s and no (good) wine, ever since, has been safe. He started The WineFront in 2002, produced three editions of the Big Red Wine Book (in 2008, 2009 and 2010; published by Hardie Grant) and his book The Wine Hunter, which won various awards both in Australia and overseas – including a prestigious Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Award – is now onto its fourth re-print. He is the only person to have won the Australian Wine Communicator of the Year twice. Campbell was also the founding editor of the Halliday magazine in 2012, and he’s been a reviewer for the Halliday Wine Companion since 2013.
About Halliday Wine Companion
For almost 30 years, the Halliday Wine Companion, founded by James Halliday, has served as the definitive guide to Australian wine. Today, a dedicated team of wine authorities collectively taste around 9000 wines each year. With more than 160,000 tasting notes from over 3500 wineries, winecompanion.com.au offers Australia’s most comprehensive collection of wine reviews and ratings to a highly engaged digital subscriber base. Halliday magazine is printed bi-monthly and offers a uniquely approachable take on wine, food and travel, and in 2022 both Halliday Wine Club and Halliday Wine Academy were launched to serve The Australian wine community. We also publish the Halliday Wine Companion guide – the bestselling annual which sets the benchmark for winemakers, collectors, and wine lovers alike. For more, visit winecompanion.com.au.