Wines are tricky: know what you’re doing and you could score a lucrative deal. Get it wrong though and you risk drinking flabby pig swill with nothing but a headache to show for it. So what’s a Summer-holic to do? You consult Australia’s leading Sommeliers (or come to D’Marge, who’ve done it for you). We hit up Australian wine experts for their picks on what white wines to be drinking this summer. Whether you’re after bottled-happiness to take on a picnic, or a top-notch vintage that will impress a high-rolling client, you’ll find it here.
But before revealing the best wines in Australia, the experts wouldn’t spill the… grapes… until we learned how to fend for ourselves. This is what we learned.
How To Pick A Great Wine
- When selecting, start with varietal, then region: “There’s a reason Chardonnay and Riesling attract the most attention from wine lovers worldwide; they are without a doubt the two greatest white wine varietals – and lucky for us they both fare well here in Australia,” (Nick Stamford, Managing Director of MW Wines).
- Don’t write off vintages from cooler regions. Nick also told us that. “In places like Victoria’s Yarra Valley and Macedon—or even down in Tassie—the cool climate means grapes are given time to ripen slowly on the vine, developing delicate fruit flavours. These aren’t your 1990s style big buttery chardonnays; it’s a leaner and crisper style.”
- In the mouth you’re looking for good acid, almost sharp in your mouth (the opposite, a more velvet finish, is known as ‘flabby’ acid and won’t give you the refreshment you need in a summer white).
- In the store, select a vintage with good quality grapes and minimal intervention in the cellar.
- If you plan on letting it age, Chiara Danieli, Head Sommelier at Matteo Downtown, says to make sure you buy something acidic: “It’s always very important that a white has high acidity for ageing.” It also, “Needs to be true to the region where it comes from and reflect into the glass the characteristics of the soils and climate.”
Now that you’ve had your crash course in grape slurping, it’s time to step up your summer cellar selection: here are the best white wines in Australia, starting at the lower end of the price range, and working our way up to a wallet-stinging (but oh so rewarding) climax.
Best Cheap Australian White Wines
Vinteloper: 500ml Park Wine, Gewurtzraminer, 2017
Sean McManus, Sommelier at French restaurant Hubert, Sydney, told us Vinteloper’s 2017 Park Wine (the best Avant Garde Wine in the 2017 Adelaide Hills wine show) is a white to keep your eye on. A Dave Bowley creation, “Like no other,” with 14 days on skins (grape juice hangs with grape skins for 14 days), this vintage is a classic, “Don’t think: just drink,” wine—a touch cloudy, super fresh and a lil funky.
“Think licks of Turkish delight with fresh white flowers: along with a zesty, ripe mandarin note that could quench any thirst.”
Dangerously drinkable by all accounts, it comes from Adelaide Hills, “Where all the cool kids are making all the cool wines, with all the cool labels in cool climate conditions.” What’s cooler than that? Even its presentation is unique—it comes in a 500ml stubby bottle labeled “park wine.”
Buy @ Vinteloper From $20
Harkham: Aziza’s Semillon Hunter Valley, 2017
According to Chiara Danieli, head Sommelier at Matteo Downtown, the 2017 vintage of Harkham Semillon, from NSW’s Hunter Valley, is one of the best value wine’s on the market. “Super easy to drink with notes of stonefruits and tropical,” this “Skin contact, great baby-step orange wine,” will only set you back $35, comes from a small, family owned winery and represents the (affordable) forefront of, “New winemaking style in one of the oldest wine regions in Australia.”
Buy @ Harkham Wines From $35
Grosset: Alea Off Dry Riesling, 2017
Nick Stamford, Managing Director of MW Wines, told us that his top pick for a white that won’t break the bank is Grosset’s Alea Off Dry Riesling. Made in the Clare Valley, their 2017 vintage is one of the best under this label for just $35.
“This one’s great with food, or just to quench a thirst on a hot summer’s day.”
Buy @ MW Wines From $35
Delamere Chardonnay Tasmania, 2012
Accredited sommelier, model and TV presenter Kate Peck told us that she can’t get enough of this offering from Delamere. “Heaven sent, lush rich oak but still with fresh vibrant acid,” she says it’s, “Like a cream dream has hit your palate, you can sit there and roll this thing around your taste buds till the cows come home.” If you want a sample of this brew you better get in quick because, “It’s tasting pretty ripe right now—so don’t delay.”
“Considering it is priced around the mid $30’s for a bottle, it’s an absolute no brainer.”
Buy @ Kemmeny’s From $35
Best Expensive Australian White Wines
Alan & Nelly Cooper: Cobaw Ridge Chardonnay, 2015
Sean McManus, one of the Sommeliers at the prestigious French restaurant Hubert in Sydney told us that this cool climate wine was his number one pick for a “special occasion” white wine.
Grown 600m above sea level on a, “Certified Biodynamic Estate in the Macedon ranges of Victoria, this wine is pruned and picked by hand all the way through to bottling, to respect the integrity of the grape,” he told us, which means, “No fining, no filtering; maximum terroir.” If you’re lucky enough to sip on this vintage you’ll notice, “Ripe apples with lashings of grapefruit and a citrus peel pop,” which, “Come together with a voluptuous serving of honeyed butter on toast.”
“This thing is about as fruit driven as a vegetarians breakfast—along with enough chalky minerals to keep it fresh and clean.”
Buy @ Cobaw Ridge From $50
Bindi: Kostas Rind Chardonnay, 2017
As scarce as they are sought after, Nick Stamford from MW Wines told us that Michael Dhillon’s Chardonnay under the Bindi label are widely considered some of the top white wines in Australia. The 2017 Bindi Wine Growers Kostas Rind Chardonnay is newly released and for those that are patient it’s an ideal wine to cellar for five to ten years. A must have in the collection for wine lovers.
Buy @ MW Wines From $63
Savaterre Chardonnay Beechworth
“Regardless of the year,” sommelier Kate Peck reckons you will not be disappointed with a Savaterre Chardonnay. “At basically half of the price of Giaconda Chardonnay (also a must try, but more expensive),” Kate says the Savaterre Chardonnay is, “A fresh, crisp and supreme wine with quietly powerful elegant oak.” In other words: “a drop so moreish that more will never be enough.”
Buy @ Dan Murphy’s From $75
Leeuwin Estate: Art Series Chardonnay, 2015
Another one of Nick Stamford’s top picks, The Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay is a great celebration wine. Part of the Art Series, this 2015 bottle is one of the Estate’s most opulent and age-worthy wines from each vintage, and with three years of age the wine is showing concentrated and complex notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and hazelnuts amidst sweeter notes of nougat, sesame brittle and brioche. In other words: a perfect choice to impress.
Buy @ MW Wines From $125
Cullen Kevin: John Chardonnay Margaret River WA, 2014
Coming from an iconic WA winery, this top-draw vintage is perfect to crack open on a hot summer’s day, for a barbecue with the hard-to-impress in laws. It also has Chiara Danieli, head Sommelier at Matteo Downtown’s seal of approval, for its “biodynamic elegant style,” which she says, “Represents the terroir (from which it came).” In your first sip you will notice that it is, “Powerful and creamy, but also elegant,” cementing its place as, “One of the best Chardonnays worldwide.”
Buy @ Wholesale Wines From $145
Giaconda: Chardonnay, 2014
Giaconda produce Chardonnay that is one of, if not the best, Australian white wine made. According to Nick Stamford, Managing Director of MW Wines, “It is Grand Cru Burgundy quality wine at a fraction of the price.” So at $189 it might not seem like a bargain, “But compared to the $600+ you’d be paying for the same quality out of France; it’s a show stopper.”
Buy @ MW Wines From $189