Monday, September 20, 2021

The Real top wineries of Australia

We have recently been told that the Number of Australians drinking wine has gone up significantly in 2021 (it is now 46%). Most of them drink Australian wine, for obvious reasons, with a reasonable number of imports from New Zealand. There is also, of course, considerable international interest (Why Australia’s latest wines are making waves). It therefore seems reasonable to ask whether we can work out which are the top wineries in Australia.

Well, we could at least try.

About 70% of all Australian wine by volume comes from the three big inland irrigated wine regions: Murray Darling, Riverina, and Riverland. In my youth, these were treated as environmental disasters, as the routine flood irrigation of the well-leached semi-desert soils simply brought all of the salts back up to the surface, making agriculture difficult. They are usually mentioned just in passing in wine books. However, the winemakers recently announced that they were forming a new association, Australian Commercial Wine Producers Limited (ACWP), to lobby for more of a say in Australia’s wine policy.


At the other extreme, the Canberra District has less than 500 ha of vineyards, with 34 wine producers (although only a dozen are well-known). Needless to say, all of these cool-climate wines are of premium quality. Obviously, it is likely to be these sorts of wineries that appear in any list of the best.

The method I will use in this post is to look at the winery rankings from The Real Review, a web site run by Huon Hooke and Bob Campbell, along with their collaborators (listed here).

Each year since 2018, they have presented a ranking of the wineries from New Zealand (by Bob Campbell) and from Australia (by Huon Hooke). The rankings are based on the average scores for all of the wines they have tasted during that year, from each of the wineries.

Many wine commentators seem to see their job as encouragement, and thus present optimistic wine ratings, for example. The Real Review, on the other hand, prides itself on being much more realistic. In this sense, their wine scores and winery rankings might well be a very good place for me to start.

However, it is important at the outset to emphasize that only a subset of the wines of Australia and New Zealand get tasted in any given year. In this sense, it is entirely possible for a winery to not be ranked in any given year, even if it has scored highly in other years, simply because insufficient wines were rated that year (the minimum necessary appears to be 2).


So, what I have done is download the winery lists for each of the four years (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). These simply list the wineries in rank order of their wine scores, with a different number of wineries each year. I then pooled the yearly lists for each country, giving me a combined list of 690 wineries for Australia, which I will report here.

From these combined lists I extracted the data for only those wineries that appeared in all four yearly lists, which is 197 (29%) of them. (Number of wineries that appeared three times: 117, appeared twice: 153, appeared once: 223.) These consistent wineries were then given a new rank, within each year, based solely on this subset of the wineries. I then averaged these rankings, thus producing a list, showing those wineries that rated consistently well across all fours years. (Note: Neal Hulkower has recently noted that this approach is called the Borda Count.)

This final list is included at the bottom of the post.

This list is not too bad, given the limitations of the original data. While we cannot say that all of the top wineries are included, or that they have necessarily risen to the top of the list, those wineries that are listed at the top are definitely among Australia's top wineries.


I could, of course, argue with some of the rankings. For example, based on my own recent experience, some wineries do seem to be a bit low down the list; for instance: Lark Hill, Tim Adam, Margan, Leconfield, O'Leary Walker, Stanton & Killeen, and Baileys of Glenrowan.

There are also wineries that scored well on those few occasions when they appeared in a list, including: Bindi Wines, Silkman Wines, Houghton, Bekkers Wine, Poonawatta, and Wendouree. I can also think of a few good wineries whose wines I drink, but that are not present in the lists in all years, or are missing entirely, including: Peel Estate, Knight Granite Hills, FireBlock, Paracombe, Delatite, Pauletts, Tahbilk, Brand's Laira, Dandelion, Josef Chromy, and Logan Weemala.

I know of no alternative list of wineries; so this one is what we have. If you want to learn a bit more about some of the Australian wineries, then James Halliday’s Wine Companion site has notes about more than 2,000 of them (not all still extant). There are, of course, ranked lists of individual wines, such as the Langton Classification of Australian Wine (based on auction prices), but not of the wineries themselves.

So, we could compare this list with one alternative, which produced somewhat different results. This is the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries of 2021, “as determined by their performance in the magazine’s two-step blind-tasting process, and celebrated for their exceptional wines”. This lists only three Australian wineries, which is one less than the number listed for Greece! These are: d’Arenberg, Penfolds, and Woodlands.



Australia's top wineries, as consistently ranked by The Real Review

Rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
178
179
180
181
182
183
184
185
186
187
188
189
190
191
192
193
194
195
196
197
Average score
192.0
191.5
190.8
190.3
188.0
186.5
185.3
184.5
182.8
180.3
179.8
178.8
177.0
174.8
173.3
171.5
171.0
170.5
170.3
169.0
167.3
164.0
162.8
161.5
160.3
159.5
158.8
158.3
158.3
157.0
156.5
155.0
153.5
153.3
152.8
152.5
152.3
150.3
150.3
149.5
148.5
148.3
148.0
146.3
144.5
144.5
142.8
140.3
138.8
137.0
136.8
136.5
136.0
133.8
132.8
132.5
131.5
130.8
130.8
130.0
129.5
128.5
126.3
124.8
123.8
122.3
121.3
120.8
120.8
118.5
117.5
117.3
117.0
115.8
115.8
114.3
113.8
113.5
112.5
112.3
112.0
112.0
111.0
111.0
110.5
110.5
110.3
109.3
108.0
107.3
103.3
103.0
100.8
100.8
100.5
100.0
99.5
99.3
98.0
98.0
97.5
97.0
96.8
96.0
95.3
94.5
93.5
89.8
89.0
89.0
88.0
87.5
86.3
85.5
84.8
84.3
84.0
82.8
82.5
79.5
78.3
78.3
75.0
73.5
73.5
72.8
72.5
72.3
71.3
71.0
70.5
70.5
69.0
68.3
67.3
65.5
64.3
63.5
62.3
60.0
60.0
59.5
59.5
59.3
58.8
58.3
58.0
57.0
56.5
53.5
52.8
52.5
52.0
51.5
51.0
50.8
49.0
48.3
47.8
46.5
46.3
45.5
44.8
44.5
44.0
44.0
43.8
43.5
43.3
41.5
41.3
39.5
39.3
38.8
38.5
38.3
37.8
36.0
35.5
33.8
33.0
32.8
32.5
32.0
30.8
29.0
24.8
24.5
24.3
23.0
22.5
21.8
18.8
18.0
17.3
16.5
16.3
Winery
Hardys
Cullen Wines
Penfolds
Yarra Yering
Wine By Farr
Wynns Coonawarra Estate
Henschke
Mount Pleasant
Yering Station
Oakridge Wines
Château Tanunda
Yalumba
Best's Great Western
Lake's Folly
Clonakilla
Giant Steps
Howard Park Wines
Pooley Wines
Mount Mary Vineyard
Torbreck
Brokenwood Wines
Stonier
Tyrrell's Wines
Tolpuddle Vineyard
Hentley Farm Wines
Vasse Felix
Moss Wood
Head Wines
Taylors
Morris
Frankland Estate
Yangarra Estate Vineyard
Woodlands
Yeringberg
Langmeil Winery
Robert Stein Vineyard
Handpicked Wines
Cape Mentelle
Pewsey Vale
Grosset
Xanadu
Vinden Estate
Levantine Hill
TarraWarra Estate
Balgownie Estate
Wolf Blass
Yabby Lake Vineyard
Jim Barry Wines
Moorilla Estate
Crawford River Wines
Stella Bella Wines
St Hallett
Tapanappa
Voyager Estate
Thompson Estate
Hayes Family Wines
Mount Langi Ghiran Vineyards
Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard
John Duval Wines
Pepper Tree Wines
Fraser Gallop Estate
Devil's Lair
Terre À Terre
Polperro & Even Keel Wines
Bellwether
Quealy
Brown Brothers
Shaw + Smith
Ten Minutes by Tractor
d'Arenberg
Leeuwin Estate
Petaluma
Seppeltsfield
Bird in Hand
Dr Edge
Seppelt
Hoddles Creek Estate
Gundog Estate
Sittella Wines
Mayer
Eldorado Road
Fighting Gully Road
Aphelion
Freycinet Vineyard
Crittenden Estate
Wirra Wirra
De Bortoli
Flametree
Domaine Naturaliste
Coriole
Hurley Vineyard
Ross Hill
Keith Tulloch Wine
McHenry Hohnen Vintners
Delamere
Mount Majura Vineyard
Huntington Estate
Michael Hall
L.A.S Vino
Stefano Lubiana Wines
Soumah
St Hugo
House of Arras
Singlefile
S.C. Pannell
Peter Lehmann
Montalto Vineyards
Mewstone Wines
Evans & Tate
Wantirna Estate
Mount Horrocks
Home Hill
Stargazer
Thistledown Wines
Curly Flat
Kreglinger Wine Estates
Glaetzer Wines
Elderton
Sidewood
Sons Of Eden
Cloudburst
Samuel's Gorge
Chaffey Bros. Wine Co
De Salis
Longview Vineyard
Allegiance Wines
Baileys of Glenrowan
Gemtree Vineyards
Port Phillip Estate
Bream Creek
Eldridge Estate
Primo Estate
Balnaves of Coonawarra
Z Wine
First Drop Wines
Bremerton Wines
Schmölzer & Brown
Artisans of Barossa
Gala Estate
Deviation Road
Stanton & Killeen
Domaine Chandon
Pressing Matters
Tertini Wines
Lake Breeze Wines
Juniper Estate
Windows Estate
Karrawatta
Jacob's Creek
Clyde Park Vineyard
Flowstone
Pikes
Chapel Hill
O'Leary Walker Wines
Derwent Estate
Helm
Meerea Park
Robert Oatley Vineyards
Two Hands Wines
Geoff Weaver
UMAMU Estate
Kalleske
Schwarz Wine Company
Bay of Fires Wines
Calabria Family Wines
Leconfield
Foxeys Hangout
Philip Shaw
Grace Farm
Castle Rock Estate
Margan Family
Shingleback
Prancing Horse Estate
The Lane Vineyard
Snake + Herring
Craiglee
Tim Adams
Kilikanoon
Massena Vineyards
Alkoomi
Higher Plane Wines
Lark Hill
David Hook Wines
Tim Smith Wines
Geoff Merrill Wines
Moppity Vineyards
Pike & Joyce
Lou Miranda Estate
Vinea Marson
Oliver's Taranga Vineyards
Sandalford
Thorn-Clarke
Tenafeate Creek Wines
Bleasdale Vineyards
Brown Magpie Wines
Catlin Wines
Heroes Wines