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The most anticipated reviews of the year, the 2022 James Halliday Australian Wine Companion

24th September 2021 | Written by Casella Family Brands

The 2022 Halliday Australian Wine Companion results are in. A total of 18 wines across the Casella Family Brands portfolio received scores 95 or above which is an incredible achievement. You can read the scores and reviews below.

BAILEYS OF GLENROWAN

5-star winery rating – will have at least two wines rated at 95 points or above, it is a winery with a long track record of excellence, having held a 5-star rating continuously for 10 years.

Winemakers Selection Rare Old Muscat NV – 95 Points

Crushed, destemmed, 3 days cold soak in open pots, no fermentation at all. Once pressed, the juice is fortified with neutral grape spirit, moved to large and small oak for maturation. A joy to behold. Combines complexity and age with freshness – the hallmark of a top Rare fortified. Aromas of sticky date pudding – so good – dried fruits, grilled hazelnuts and prunes. Smooth. Rolls off the tongue with luscious ease. Clean spirit and well integrated. 375ml.

Winemakers Selection Rare Old Topaque NV – 95 Points

At home in Glenrowan on the granitic soils of the Warby Ranges, Baileys fortifieds are generally of the lifted and aromatic school. Dense mahogany colour; aromas of spring florals, roses, dried fruits, orange peel and roasted almond are true to form. A fine line of refreshing neutral spirit runs the length of the palate. Rich and textural with crème caramel, walnut brownies, layers of sweet spice, and so much more. Beauty in the glass. 375ml.

Founders Series Classic Topaque NV – 95 Points

750ml bottle. Baileys turned 150 in ’20, celebrating a proud fortified wine history, manifest in this wine of some finesse. Lifted, super-fresh and raisiny, malty in aroma. Filigree-fine on the tongue, with the lasting presence of butterscotch, smoky lapsang souchong tea, licorice block, honey and a touch of Asian spice. Clean as a whistle on delivery. Combines freshness and complexity.

BRAND’S LAIRA

One Seven One Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 – 96 Points

A very good if powerful vintage, yet this is a classy cabernet that’s beautifully modulated and balanced. It has an essential core of lovely fruit – all cassis, mulberries and blackberries – topped with woodsy spices, florals, menthol and choc-mint. The medium body is an exercise in texture from fine-grained, detailed tannins as they head towards a long and pure finish. Elegance comes to mind.

1968 Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 – 95 Points

There’s a quality within. A boldness. The fruit has largely stood up to 100% new French oak, aged 20 months. Expect sweet cassis and currants laden with licorice, dried herbs, plus aniseed, rosemary and tar, too. The palate has a velvety texture, savoury, with firm yet furry tannins. Its aim is to hang around for quite some time, yet it’s pleasing now.

PETER LEHMANN WINES

5-star winery rating – will have at least two wines rated at 95 points or above, it is a winery with a long track record of excellence, having held a 5-star rating continuously for 10 years

Wigan Riesling 2016 – 97 points

2002 vines. Wigan is king of Eden Valley riesling and yet again one of the top releases of the year. Still a magnificent straw-green at just 5yo, it’s at that magic moment where primary and secondary characters unite in equal measure. All the fresh lime and Granny Smith apple of youth, backed by rising buttery, spicy, roast almond maturity. Brilliant acid line charges an astonishing finish that lasts for 30 seconds. Yes, I timed it! For all it represents, this might just be the bargain of the year.

Stonewell Shiraz 2017 – 97 points

Matured 18 months in 60% new French oak hogsheads. Lehmann’s depth of reach into Barossa’s finest sites is evident here, upholding the depth of style and greatness of its flagship, even in a cooler season. A magnificently full, vibrant purple hue, it’s packed with compact, dense, crunchy, bright black fruits of all kinds, dressed in a gown of finely woven tannins. High-cocoa dark chocolate French oak has been perfectly tuned to the season. Integrity and persistence define great longevity.

VSV Valley View Road Barossa Valley Shiraz 2018 – 97 points

From Ebenezer, at 360m the highest and most northern part of the Barossa Valley. Fermented on skins for 14 days, then matured in French hogsheads for 14 months. This is a great example of the Barossa Valley at its best, marrying elegance with high-definition shiraz. The palate is long, balanced, and, above all else, fresh.

Margaret Semillon 2015 – 96 points

Hand-picked fruit from Light Pass vineyards. I first tasted this vintage shortly after fermentation and such is its stamina that its youthful verve is upheld with astonishing clarity six years later! An impossibly pale straw-green. Shot with cut grass, fresh lemon, Granny Smith apple skin. Building preserved lemon, buttered toast and subtle nutmeg. Crystalline acidity electrifies an exceedingly long finish. The Hunter is king of dry semillon and Margaret is its only true rival.

Mentor Cabernet 2017 – 95 points

95/5% cabernet sauvignon/shiraz; matured 18 months in 50% new French oak hogsheads. The cooler vintages yield the most exciting Barossa cabernets. This is a season packed with density and definition in a compact core that encapsulates the full spectrum of varietal hallmarks of cassis, blackcurrant, capsicum, tobacco, coffee bean and cedar. True to the season, it’s already evolving into the savoury spectrum of sweet roast capsicum, yet holds the integrity, stamina and firm, fine, mineral tannins to age long. Another truly great Mentor.

H&V Riesling 2020 – 95 points

Pitch-perfect Eden Valley riesling of impeccable precision. Textbook lime, lemon and Granny Smith apple. This low-yielding season has delivered fantastic concentration, and all the energy of cool nights is captured in shimmering acidity. The skill of the Lehmann team in managing phenolics is exemplified in 2020, making this one of the rieslings of the vintage. Captivating from the outset and it will live long, if you can keep your hands off it!

MORRIS OF RUTHERGLEN

5-star winery rating – will have at least two wines rated at 95 points or above, it is a winery with a long track record of excellence, having held a 5-star rating continuously for 10 years

Morris Old Premium Rare Topaque NV – 98 points

From a vines of varying ages, 40/35/25% planted in 1980/2000/1973. Hand-picked fruit, crushed and destemmed. Fermented with cultured yeast, 1–2 days on skins, 17 years maturation in old ‘European’ barrels, fortified with high-strength neutral spirit. A masterclass from Australia’s greatest fortified maker, David Morris, right here. The depth of complexity and intensity lays bare the art of the blender and the depth and quality of the source material. Dried fruit, malt, fruitcake, caramel toffees, licorice, roasted hazelnut and so much more infused in an enveloping umami warmth. 500ml.

Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Rutherglen Muscat NV – 97 points

A rich baroque tapestry of aromas and flavours of great complexity. Immense concentration and depth on display but realised with real grace and elegance. The superlatives flow but they are needed. Plum pudding, chocolate, coffee bean, walnut and fruit peel combine with toasty elements and dried dates, all smoothy honed and lifted by neutral spirit. The finish stays with you. 500ml.

Morris Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Rutherglen Muscat NV – 96 points

Hand-picked fruit, crushed and destemmed. Fermented with cultured yeast, 2–3 days on skins, 17 years maturation in old ‘European’ barrels. Varied vine ages in play here, planted in 1965, 1974, 1982 and 2002, contributing varying degrees of flavour complexity. When combined with age, neutral spirit and judicious blending, they smash it out of the park! What a stunner. A rich, velvety fabric of fig, butterscotch, toffee, walnut, panforte. Flavours go and go. Astoundingly complex and, importantly, fresh. 500ml.

Morris Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Rutherglen Topaque NV – 96 points

Hand-picked fruit was crushed and destemmed. Open fermentation with cultured yeast. On skins for 4 days. Matured for 20 years in old ‘European’ oak. Deep, dark molasses in hue. Lifted and fresh aromas – a key to quality in aged fortifieds – of fruitcake, roasted nuts, cold tea and coffee grounds. So smooth across the palate; and complex, aided by a low-strength neutral spirit which allows the aged flavours to soar. 500ml.

Morris Old Premium Rare Rutherglen Tawny NV – 95 points

Average maturation age of 20+ years and fortified with a high-strength neutral spirit. A liqueur tawny with concentrated raisin, toffee, coffee, balsamic and nutty characters aplenty. Drenches the mouth in concentrated flavour, a powerfully persuasive wine to make you wonder why you don’t buy this kind of vinous history more often. 500ml.

Morris Classic Rutherglen Topaque NV – 95 points

Manages to combine elegance and freshness with a richness of flavour, not an easy task. A lovely delicacy pervades this wine, of freshly roasted coffee beans, mocha, Golden Syrup, honey and that thread of cold tea so emblematic of the grape and style. A mix of age, clean neutral spirit here and, always, the seamless Morris style. What value! 375ml.

Morris Cellar Reserve Grand Tawny NV – 95 points

Fruit for this fortified was grown on vines going back to 1920. It saw 20 years maturation in oak. If master blender David Morris can’t get drinkers interested in tawny fortifieds then the style is lost. Here, he invites the eye in warm walnut brown tones and the nose with the scent of malt/toffee, roasted almond and raisin. The invitation is delivered with great flavour, warmth and chocolate/coffee/malt generosity edged in clean, fresh spirit. Lingers like mad. 500ml.

 

STATS AND FACTS FROM THE 2022 AWARDS:

  • Over 9,100 wines tasted and rated.
  • Over 3,200 full tasting notes appear in the print publication of the book.
  • Another 5300+ wines appear with their ratings, drink-to dates and prices.
  • More than 1,250 wineries are profiled in this year’s guide.

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