THE Tyrrell’s family wine company has had a momentous 2018 – including its 160th birthday and welcoming a second sixth-generation grandson.
Now, it gets my Newcastle Herald Wine of the Year title. The winning wine is the magical Tyrrell’s 2005 Vat 1 Semillon, to which I gave an unprecedented six stars in my July 4 review. Priced at $175, its release marked the 160th anniversary of Edward Tyrrell’s 1858 settlement on 134.6 hectares of Pokolbin land.
The 2005 Vat 1 is the most awarded wine in Tyrrell’s history, with 34 trophies and 57 gold medals. I rate it one of the best semillons I’ve ever tasted with its enticing cumquat scents, beguiling flavours of lemon, lime zest, gunmetal and toast and honey and pristine slatey acid finish.
Up against the 400 wines reviewed in 2018, the Vat 1 is not only my wine of the year, but also best white wine and best semillon.
The close contender for best white and best semillon is the Two Rivers 2013 Stones Throw Museum Release semillon ($50), to which I gave 5.5 stars. At the 2018 Sydney Wine Show it won the Lindeman Trophy for the best mature white and the Len Evans Trophy for the best single-vineyard wine.
My pick as other great semillons are the Brokenwood 2011 ILR Reserve Semillon ($75) and the Meerea Park 2013 Alexander Munro Semillon from the prized Braemore vineyard ($45).
My Wine of the Year runner-up, champion red and top shiraz is the 5.5-star, McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant 2017 Old Paddock and Old Hill Shiraz ($50), which last October was judged NSW Wine of the Year and won best dry red and the best shiraz trophies. It was hailed by judges as “a magnificent wine of impeccable pedigree, purity and balance”.
The other shiraz reds to impress mightily are the Moppity 2013 Escalier Hilltops Shiraz ($130), the Grant Burge 2012 Meshach Shiraz ($175), the Audrey Wilkinson 2017 The Lake Reserve Shiraz ($120) and the Meerea Park 2009 Alexander Munro Aged Release Shiraz ($125).
The year brought forth some very fine chardonnays and, on quality and affordability, my top-rank wine is the McGuigan 2016 The Shortlist Adelaide Hills Chardonnay ($29). I reviewed it last February and there may still be limited stocks in cellar doors and bottle shops.
Other top chardonnays: Shaw and Smith 2016 M3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay ($46); First Creek 2017 Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay, which was the top Hunter wine in the prestigious 2018 James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge ($65); and Tyrrell’s 2014 Vat 47 Chardonnay ($75).
The McGuigan 2010 The Shortlist Eden Valley Riesling ($100) is my riesling of the year, with special commendation for the Mudgee-sourced Westcourt Wines 2016 Riesling ($25).
Not surprisingly, my choice of cabernet sauvignon of the year was a tussle between wines from Coonawarra and Western Australia’s Margaret River areas.
By a whisker, the Katnook 2013 Odyssey Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon ($110) got the nod over the Moss Wood 2015 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon ($128). The Moss Wood 2015 is from Keith and Clare Mugford’s fine operation in the northern Wilyabrup sub-region.
A third top-rank cabernet sauvignon is the Houghton 2015 Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon ($140), made from WA Frankland River fruit.
My choice as best other varieties wine is the Tamburlaine 2017 Reserve Orange Malbec ($44). This malbec won two trophies in 2018 at the NSW Wine Awards and Melbourne Wine Show and was a close contender for the Melbourne Jimmy Watson Trophy.
Another beaut other varieties red is the Best’s Great Western 2017 Old Vine Pinot Meuniere ($100).
My best other varieties white is the Longview 2017 Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner ($25), made from the German-origin variety now being widely planted in Australia.