Campbell Mattinson’s Top 100 wineries for 2023.
SELECTED BY CAMPBELL MATTINSON
After much consideration, more than a few sleepless nights and some tough calls, here are the best wineries in the country, writes editor in chief Campbell Mattinson.
Welcome to the inaugural Halliday Wine Companion Top 100 Wineries. It is not an historical classification – there are already plenty of those. Instead, it is a listing of the best Australian producers of now. Arm yourself with these names and you can walk into any bottle shop in Australia, or peruse any Australian wine list, and be ripe to pick the eyes from it.
The first rule in compiling this list was that the winery had to have submitted wines to the Companion in recent times. There are some wineries – Wendouree for example – who don’t submit to the Companion, and so they were not considered for inclusion.
From there, the prime selection criteria were simple: quality, across the current range, had to be as close to guaranteed as possible.
This list is about what’s in the glass today. High scoring wines in a producer’s current range are of absolute relevance here, but so too is consistency across the entire range. If the range of wines isn’t consistently good, or is patchy, then it has been downgraded in calculations.
In short, this a list of producers who know, in both their heart and in their head, that consumers don’t owe them a living. This is a list of producers who are prepared to stake their reputation on every single wine they release. ☞
The best way to drive a brand is to drive it with vineyards. Oakridge has been doing that to an elaborate degree for a long time now – if anything the wines continue to improve. Indeed, Oakridge was for some time renowned as a master of chardonnay, which it still is, but it’s become overwhelmingly clear that Oakridge is a master of pretty much all the varieties in its orbit. Oakridge won the Best Value title at our annual awards this year but really, even with value aside, the wines are great, full stop.
Yangarra Estate Vineyard
No Australian winery has performed better than Yangarra over the past decade. It has covered all bases so well that the word 'dominant' comes to mind. It has helped revolutionise McLaren Vale grenache, it has taken Rhône whites to new levels, it’s put single-block shiraz on a pedestal and it’s been a leader of quality, drink-now, preservative-free wines. Yangarra makes good wine at good prices and it also makes the best of the best; sometimes it even combines the two.
There’s an argument to say that Mount Pleasant is Australia’s most important wine estate. It’s certainly ground zero of fine Australian table wine thanks to the legendary exploits of its founding winemaker, Maurice O’Shea, from the 1920s onwards. But successive winemakers, from Phil Ryan to Jim Chatto to Adrian Sparks, have inched the wines of this estate to higher and higher levels, to the point now where a whole series of its current-release wines are classics in the making.
For the past 20 years, the reputation of Giant Steps has edged higher. The land has been its brand; it has been, and continues to be, the champion of the single site, especially when it comes to chardonnay and pinot noir. Everywhere you look in the Giant Steps Yarra Valley range you find wines of structural integrity that are as delicious as they are complex. It’s a case of Giant Steps by name, giant quality by nature. Its 2022 Applejack Pinot Noir won Best Pinot Noir in the latest Companion, but that’s just the tip of an amazing quality iceberg.
Every year, in any list, By Farr winery is one of the first picked. This is a single-minded producer if ever there was one; this is a producer interested in quality and nothing else. This is viognier, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz, planted in volcanic loams and quartz gravels, drilled down to the specifics of site and soil and hands. There is simply no such thing as a boring By Farr wine.
Every year, in any list, By Farr winery is one of the first picked. This is a single-minded producer if ever there was one; this is a producer interested in quality and nothing else