Vin Connections Liquid Aussie Gold (July 2004)


Enjoy Liquid Aussie Gold… 20 Top Wines Under $20… Pls forward!

Proof of the changing, progressive nature of a business that goes back thousands of years, our perception of THE region for “great wine” has expanded dramatically. Once including France – almost exclusively – that honor now includes California and Spain, as well as the country we’re interested in today – Australia.

As befitting the success and popularity of Australian wines, there are many fine reviews and high ratings on wines from “down under” in the Wine PocketList. A recent search for Australian wines in our database yielded several hundred recent reviews, with an emphasis on Shiraz and Chardonnay, along with a healthy mix of Semillon, Reisling and Muscat.

In this month’s issue of VinConnections, we’ve focused on a few of the most prominent wine types from the land of wallabies, Ayers Rock and the Great Barrier Reef to bring you 20 great Australian wines for $20 a bottle and under… and not a single one with a grade lower than an A-. So enjoy, and G’day!

This Month’s Reader Question:
“Are all Australian wines really that good?”

June Wine Picks:
Aussie Gold: 20 Wines, all A- and better, and $20 a bottle and less.
Shiraz: The uniquely Australian adaptation of the Syrah grape.
Chardonnay: The second most widely produced varietal (behind Shiraz).
Cabernet: Still a huge favorite the world over (and under…)
The Rest of the Story… 5 wines, 5 varietals

This Month’s Quote:
When you should drink wine…


When it Comes to the Wines From Down Under, we Say “Drink Up…”

“I love wines from Northern California, but find that they’re really costly. I understand Australian wines are a great bargain, and have enjoyed more than a few. What do you think?

— Alison Wilson, Vancouver Washington

The short answer is simple: I just love Australian wines. But the fact is, I love good wine from all over the world. That said, I have a soft spot for the wines from down under. Why? For the price, I think they’re some of the best wines you’ll find.

In the last several decades Australian red and white wines have garnered great reviews, and are now recognized as some of the best priced, most highly rated wines in the world. Most importantly, the price/quality ratio you’ll find in many of these wines is remarkable. The vast majority of the Australian wines reviewed in our database were under $20, with several A+ wines. That’s over a 94 rating on the Wine Spectator scale!

Though Australia’s 850 or so wineries produce about a third as much wine as California, their well-priced, well-made wines have earned admirers the world over. In Australia, Chardonnay is now the third most popular wine produced (behind Shiraz and Cabernet) and Shiraz (the uniquely Australian adaptation of the French Syrah grape from the northern Rhфne Valley) is a big, flavorful red that has helped put Australian wine on the map with its stellar reviews.

One uniquely Australian trend that has begun showing up in other regions is to blend two grapes, and include both in the wine’s name. One of the moist successful pairings (in our opinion) is the Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz (or vice versa, depending on which grape is dominant in the blend).

Typically pleasant to drink early on, Australian wines benefit from the generally warm, dry climate. Though there are many wine growing regions (the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra and Clare Valley in South Australia, Yarra Valley and Rutherglen in Victoria, and the Upper and Lower Hunter Valley in New South Wales to name just a few), the majority of Australian wines are simply labeled “South Eastern Australia.”

Of course, as with wines everywhere, quality isn’t necessarily consistent from one vineyard or vintage to the next. So to put only the best bottles on your table (and much more importantly, the wine in them in your glass!) make sure to bring your friend the Wine PocketList along with you when you shop. Bottom’s up!

[Do you have a wine-related question you’d like to ask? If so, contact us and you may see it answered in an upcoming issue!]


Shiraz; The uniquely Australian adaptation of the Syrah grape.

2001, Shiraz, O’Leary Walker, “Clare Valley”
South Australia
IE: A+$20, Grade A+
2001, Syrah/Shiraz, Taltarni, “Pyrenees”
Victoria, Australia
IE: A-, B+$19, Grade A-
2002, Syrah/Shiraz, Vasse Felix, “Adams Road Shiraz,
Margaret River”
IE: A-$15, Grade A-
2001, Shiraz, Wolf Blass, “President’s Selection”
South Australia
IE: A$19, Grade A
2001, Shiraz, Reynolds, “Reserve”
New South Wales, Australia
IE: B+, A$15, Grade A-

Chardonnay; The second most widely produced varietal (behind Shiraz)

2002, Chardonnay, Rosemount, “Hill of Gold, Mudgee”
IE: A$13, Grade A
2002, Chardonnay, “Tuck’s Ridge”
IE: A$20, Grade A
2002, Chardonnay, Rosemount, “Orange”
IE: A$20, Grade A
2002, Chardonnay, Brookland Valley, “Verse 1, Margaret River”
Southwest Australia
IE: A-$16, Grade A-
2001, Chardonnay, Marquee Selection, “Mornington Peninsula”
IE: A-$20, Grade A-

Cabernet; Still a huge favorite the world over (and under…)

2002, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosemount, “Hill of Gold, Mudgee”
IE: A+$17, Grade A+
2001, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reynolds, “Reserve, Orange”
New South Wales, Australia
IE: B+, A+$15, Grade A
2001, Cabernet Sauvignon, Jim Barry, “The Cover Drive, Coonawarra”
IE: A-$15, Grade A-
2001, Cabernet Sauvignon, Brookland Valley, “Verse 1,
Margaret River”
South West Australia
IE: A-$18, Grade A-
2001, Cabernet Sauvignon, Wyndham, “Bin 444”
South Eastern Australia
IE: A-$16, Grade A-

The Rest of the Story… 5 wines, 5 varietals

2002, Grenache/Mourvedre/Shiraz, Hewitson,
“Miss Harry Dry Grown and Ancient”
Barossa Valley, South Australia
IE: A$19, Grade A
NV, Muscat, Campbells, “Rutherglen”
Victoria Australia
IE: A-$17, Grade A-
2002, Grenache, Yalumba, “Bush Vine, Barossa Valley”
South Australia
IE: A-$15, Grade A-
2003, Riesling, Jim Barry, “The Lodge Hill Riesling, Clare Valley”
South Australia
IE: B+, A-$15, Grade A-
2003, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Evans & Tate, “Classic,
Margaret River”
Western Australia
IE: A-$14, Grade A-

Wine Quote

So, when should you drink wine…?

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”

— Michael Broadbent


Understanding our System

Grade: [A-]
Our grades represent a composite score developed using our proprietary system to blend wine quality and scoring information.

Vintage: 1999
This describes both the year of the actual grape harvest as well as the year the wine was made.

Price: $12
The prices quoted in the WPL are the “suggested retail prices” quoted by the wineries and the distributors. Though these are close to what you’d pay at the winery, you’ll often find discounts of 20% and more off these prices at retail.

Individual Evaluations: IE: A, A-, B+
This represents the number of individual reviews and ratings on which the composite grade is based, primarily representing individual reviews in top wine periodicals converted to our scale, and ratings by our tasting panel.

Wine PocketList Exclusive Categories: WPL: BBC, W, S, B
These are four exclusive WPL categories, and many wines rated by the PocketList will fall into one of these special designations.

[W] Widely Available:
These wines typically have bottling of 20,000 cases or more, making them widely available in most regions of the U.S.

[BBC] Top Buy-by-the-Case:
Based on multiple, outstanding reviews and a solid history, these are wines you can purchase by the case to grow your cellar with confidence today, and into the future!

[B] Bargain Wines:
Top-rated wines for $10 or less. Most of these can go head to head with a typical $30 bottle sporting a fancy label . . . and beat it hands down.

[S] Splurge Wines:
For most of us, spending more than $20 on a bottle of wine isn’t something we do lightly. These are wines that, while more expensive, are well worth the price.

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