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2021 James Halliday Wine Companion Results

13th August 2020 | Written by client

The most highly anticipated wine award results of the year are in!

Foregoing the usual dinner in Melbourne for this year, James Halliday took a digital approach, hosting the launch of his 2021 Halliday Australian Wine Companion book via live-stream video. Eager wine-enthusiasts and VIPs tuned in at 8pm last night to get a glimpse at some of the scores.

Over 9000 wines were tasted by the panel in this year’s tasting. 29 wines were awarded 99 points with 1 of these top scores going to Morris of Rutherglen (Old Premium Rare Liqueur Topaque NV).

Across the Casella Family Brands portfolio Peter Lehmann Wines, Brand’s Laira, Morris of Rutherglen and Baileys of Glenrowan all received a (red) 5-star winery rating, indicating an extensive track record of excellence. In addition to this, Casella (Yenda) was awarded 4 stars.

 An impressive total of 27 wines across the portfolio received scores 95 or above.

Some Highlights

Morris Wines of Rutherglen

Old Premium Rare Liqueur Topaque NV – 99 Points 

“Rare is in a class of its own. Extraordinary. Taking on umami complexity, dark chocolate studded with salt flakes, raisins soaked in molasses and more. Rich and sweet but definitely not burdened by all that because it has life, a lemony acidity and a freshness throughout.”

Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat NV – 98 Points 

“A lot of emotion can be found in a glass of rare, as only time can produce this. Extraordinarily complex with its umami flavours, brittle burnt toffee, Eccles cakes and an array of Middle Eastern baking spices. Beautifully composed, fresh and a joy to behold. And drink.”

Peter Lehmann Wines

MASTERSON Shiraz – 97 Points

“From a single vineyard in Moppa; the grapes crushed to a small fermenter with 14 days on skins, pressed to French hogsheads for mlf, then to a 2500l oval foudre for 36 months after strict barrel selection. It is a full-bodied Shiraz of excellent quality, harmony and balance perfectly expressed via seamless fruit, oak and tannin contributions.”

Wigan Riesling – 96 points.

“Generations of Barossa Valley Semillon were made from rapes ripened to produce alcohol levels between 15% and 16.5%, matured in used American oak and had no support outside of a hardy few until winemaker Andrew Wigan decided to follow the Hunter Valley’s lead and pick early, cold ferment and bottle asap. It was an immediate success and continues to this day: zesty citrus/lemongrass flavours and mouthfeel, and a 10-20 year life.”

Baileys of Glenrowan

Winemakers Selection Rare Old Muscat NV – 98 Points 

“A walnut-mahogany colour with a ruby shimmer. Exotic Middle Eastern spices, fennel seeds and pomander infuse molasses and brand-soaked sultanas. It’s complex and layered, yet bright, unsullied and beguiling.”

Winemakers Selection Rare Old Topaque NV – 97 Points 

“From the moment this is poured with its alluring rich mahogany and olive green hue, its obvious something special awaits. It doesn’t disappoint. The richness of lime jellies and butterscotch, chocolate and baking spices are all aligned perfectly, as is the palate. Luscious, smooth as silk and beautifully composed. It’s as fresh as it is complex. Bravo.”

Brand’s Laira

2016 Stentiford’s Old Vine Shiraz – 97 Points.

“The back label says the vines were planted by Captain Stentiford in 1893, and the length and focus of the wine in the mouth speaks eloquently of very old vines. The structure couples with the dark fruits, are the keys to the wine’s quality, though not making oak and tannins irrelevant.”


1919 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016  – 95 Points

“Bright garnet. Looking, smelling and tasting younger and brighter than its 4 years would otherwise indicate; perhaps the result of some judicious multi-regional blending within SA. Aussie bush aromas with blackberry, clove, cigar box and smoky toast. Good cabernet touchstones, especially the dried herbs and spice. Structured and balanced, rich and textured.”