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07.30.2005

The Great Australian Wine Classification

Well knock me down and bowl me over, I had no idea that someone had attempted to classify the top 101 Australian wines in imitation of France's 1855 classification that gave us the Grand Crus, Premiere Crus, etc. Let alone that it would be in its fourth incarnation since 1991!

But as I stumbled around Jancis Robinson's web site yesterday, there it was. A list of the estates, broken down by category, with specific criteria for each. Wonders never cease.

Here's the deal. Apparently, a few folks at Langton's, one of the premiere wine auction houses in Australia decided to use market data, plus a few more criteria to rank the top wine producers of Australia. Their criteria were that the estate had to have been in production for at least 10 years, and 12 years minimum for their top designation. Then Langton's used its auction sale data going back to 1980 to see which wines were consistently bringing the highest prices. Which is basically how that original 1855 classification was done, but with a lot less quantitative data.

Want to know who made the list? Of course you do. I've pasted some of the top scorers below, but you can download the full list here.. There's also a Q&A document on the classification. The full classification is worth the download, if only for the detailed descriptions they give of each wine and the list of its best vintages.

Exceptional
PENFOLDS Bin 95 Grange Shiraz, South Australia
BASS PHILLIP Reserve Pinot Noir, South Gippsland Victoria
CULLEN Diana Madeline Cabernet-Merlot, Margaret River Western Australia
GIACONDA Chardonnay, Beechworth Victoria
HENSCHKE Hill of Grace Shiraz, Eden Valley South Australia
LEEUWIN ESTATE Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River Western Australia
MOSS WOOD Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River Western Australia
MOUNT MARY Quintet Cabernet Blend, Yarra Valley Victoria
PENFOLDS Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia
ROCKFORD Basket Press Shiraz, Barossa Valley South Australia
WENDOUREE Shiraz, Clare Valley South Australia

Outstanding
BAROSSA VALLEY ESTATE E & E Black Pepper Shiraz, Barossa Valley South Australia
BASS PHILLIP Premium Pinot Noir, South Gippsland Victoria
BEST'S Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz, Grampians Victoria
BROKENWOOD Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, Hunter Valley New South Wales
CHRIS RINGLAND Shiraz, Barossa South Australia
CLARENDON HILLS Astralis Syrah, McLaren Vale South Australia
CLONAKILLA Shiraz-Viognier, Canberra District New South Wales
GRANT BURGE Meshach Shiraz, Barossa Valley South Australia
GROSSET Polish Hill Riesling, Clare Valley South Australia
HARDYS Eileen Hardy Shiraz, South Australia
HENSCHKE Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Eden Valley South Australia
JASPER HILL Emily's Paddock Shiraz-Cabernet Franc, Heathcote Victoria
JASPER HILL Georgia's Paddock Shiraz, Heathcote Victoria
JIM BARRY The Armagh Shiraz, Clare Valley South Australia
KATNOOK ESTATE Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra South Australia
KAY BROTHERS AMERY VINEYARDS Block 6 Shiraz, McLaren Vale South Australia
MAJELLA The Malleea Cabernet-Shiraz, Coonawarra South Australia
MOUNT MARY Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley Victoria
PARKER COONAWARRA ESTATE Terra Rossa First Growth Cabernet-Merlot, Coonawarra South Australia
PIERRO Chardonnay, Margaret River Western Australia
WENDOUREE Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley South Australia
YALUMBA The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz, Barossa South Australia

Excellent
BANNOCKBURN Serre Pinot Noir, Geelong Victoria
BINDI Original Vineyard Pinot Noir, Macedon Ranges Victoria
CAPE MENTELLE Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River Western Australia
CORIOLE Lloyd Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale South Australia
CRAIGLEE Shiraz, Sunbury Victoria
DALWHINNIE Moonambel Shiraz, Pyrenees Victoria
D'ARENBERG The Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale South Australia
DE BORTOLI Noble One Botrytis Semillon, Riverina New South Wales
ELDERTON Command Shiraz, Barossa Valley South Australia
FOX CREEK Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale South Australia
GIACONDA Pinot Noir, Beechworth Victoria
GREENOCK CREEK Roennfeldt Road Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley South Australia
GREENOCK CREEK Roennfeldt Road Shiraz, Barossa Valley South Australia
GROSSET Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley South Australia
HENSCHKE Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon, Eden Valley South Australia
HOWARD PARK Cabernet, Margaret River-Great Southern Western Australia
LAKE'S FOLLY White Label Cabernet Blend, Hunter Valley New South Wales
MCWILLIAM'S Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon, Hunter Valley New South Wales
MOUNT LANGI GHIRAN Langi Shiraz, Grampians Victoria
NOON Winery Reserve Shiraz, Langhorne Creek South Australia
PENFOLDS Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz, South Australia
PENFOLDS St. Henri Shiraz, South Australia
PETALUMA Coonawarra Cabernet-Merlot, Coonawarra South Australia
PETER LEHMANN Stonewell Shiraz, Barossa Valley South Australia
ST HALLETT Old Block Shiraz, Barossa South Australia
TAHBILK 1860 Vines Shiraz, Nagambie Lakes Victoria
TORBRECK RunRig Shiraz, Barossa Valley South Australia
VASSE FELIX Heytesbury Cabernet Blend, Margaret River-Great Southern Western Australia
VERITAS Rolf Binder Hanisch Shiraz, Barossa Valley South Australia
WENDOUREE Cabernet-Malbec, Clare Valley South Australia
WENDOUREE Shiraz-Malbec, Clare Valley South Australia
WENDOUREE Shiraz-Mataro, Clare Valley South Australia
WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra South Australia
YARRA YERING Dry Red Wine No.1 Cabernet, Yarra Valley Victoria

Distinguished
BANNOCKBURN Chardonnay, Geelong Victoria
BANNOCKBURN Pinot Noir, Geelong Victoria
BASS PHILLIP Estate Pinot Noir, South Gippsland Victoria
BEST'S Bin No.O Great Western Shiraz, Grampians Victoria
BOWEN ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra South Australia
CHARLES MELTON Nine Popes Shiraz-Grenache-Mourvedre, Barossa Valley South Australia
CRAWFORD RIVER WINES Riesling, Henty Victoria
DOMAINE A Cabernet Sauvignon, Coal River Valley Tasmania
HOUGHTON Jack Mann Frankland River Cabernet Blend, Great Southern Western Australia
KATNOOK ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra South Australia
LEASINGHAM Classic Clare Shiraz, Clare Valley South Australia
LEEUWIN ESTATE Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River Western Australia
LINDEMANS Limestone Ridge Vineyard Shiraz-Cabernet, Coonawarra South Australia
MAJELLA Cabernet, Coonawarra South Australia
MITCHELTON Print Shiraz, Nagambie Lakes Victoria
MOUNT MARY Chardonnay, Yarra Valley Victoria
ORLANDO Lawson's Shiraz, Padthaway South Australia
ORLANDO St. Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra South Australia
PENFOLDS Magill Estate Shiraz, Adelaide South Australia
PETALUMA Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills South Australia
PETALUMA Hanlin Hill Riesling, Clare Valley South Australia
PLANTAGENET Mount Barker Shiraz, Great Southern Western Australia
REDBANK WINERY Sally's Paddock Cabernet-Shiraz, Pyrenees Victoria
SEPPELT Great Western Vineyards Show Sparkling Shiraz, Grampians Victoria
SEPPELT St Peters Great Western Vineyards Shiraz, Grampians Victoria
TIM ADAMS The Aberfeldy Shiraz, Clare Valley South Australia
TYRRELL'S Vat 47 Chardonnay, Hunter Valley New South Wales
TYRRELL'S Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley New South Wales
VASSE FELIX Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River Western Australia
WOLF BLASS Black Label Cabernet-Shiraz, South Australia
WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra South Australia
YARRA YARRA VINEYARD The Yarra Yarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley Victoria
YARRA YERING Dry Red Wine No.2 Shiraz, Yarra Valley Victoria
YERINGBERG Cabernet Blend, Yarra Valley Victoria


I've had quite a few of these wines, and I know I would definitely make some revisions to this list if it were going to represent my ranking, especially down under. Any of my Australian readers want to comment?

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