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Langton’s latest Oz fine wine classification

Written by JW. Posted in Australia

Brokenwood’s Graveyard Shiraz upgraded to ‘Exceptional’

Last week saw the publication of Langton’s classification ‘V’ of the highest performing Australian wines as defined by their movements on the Australian auction market. Although essentially a market guide, the Langton’s classification is generally regarded as a list of the very finest and most collectable wines made in Oz. Revised every five years the classification was first introduced in 1991. Back then 34 wines were included, last week 123 wines made it to the list – 33 more since the last classification in 2005, reflecting the increased demand for fine Australian wine on the secondary markets in general as well as the sheer quality of the product at the top end.  

The wines are divided into four categories, ‘Exceptional’ [17 wines], ‘Outstanding’ [32 wines], ‘Excellent’ [36 wines] and ‘Distinguished’ [38 wines]. Broken down by varietal the list has 58 Shiraz or Shiraz blends, 40 Cabernet blends, 15 white wines and 10 Pinot Noirs and geographically the wines come mostly from Australia’s principal fine wine producing areas, Margaret River, Barossa, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, the Yarra Valley and the Hunter Valley. For a wine to be included it must have been produced for at least ten vintages.

In the exceptional category Penfold’s Grange still leads a pack of wines that represent a mouth watering roll call of Australia’s finest from Bass Phillip’s Reserve Pinot Noir, Henschke’s Hill of Grace, Mount Mary’s Quintet, Clarendon Hills’ Astralis Syrah and Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay to name just a few. Brokenwood’s Graveyard Shiraz, upgraded from the ‘outstanding’ category, joins this group as does Torbreck’s Run Rig Shiraz, which has jumped two notches, previously classed ‘excellent’. In the  outstanding category, Wynn’s John Riddoch Coonawarra Cabernet makes a return and Balnave’s ‘The Tally’ Reserve Cabernet, which showed very well earlier this year [see post on Wine Australia’s Coonawarra Masterclass] makes its debut as ‘outstanding’, marking something of a more general return to form for Australia’s Coonawarra region. Moving up to this category is Tahbilk’s 1860 Shiraz which underscores the strong performance from those estates that banded together to form Australia’s First Families of Wine in 2009. In this group Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon also moved up to the outstanding category, as did d’Arenberg’s Dead Arm Shiraz, De Bortoli’s Noble One Botrytis Semillon and McWilliams’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon – all members of the First Families band.

There are also a number of new Pinot Noir entrants to the list including Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir, Main Ridge Half Acre Pinot Noir, Paringa Estate ‘The Paringa’ Single Vineyard Pinot Noir and Freycinet Pinot Noir. Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir also returns to the classification after five years in the wilderness. Penfold’s Bin 407 and Bin 28 also make it onto the list in the distinguished category. I’ve banged on about Bin 28’s great ageing ability before, it’s an absolute bargain. For more information on the classification do visit Langton’s excellent site

Tahbilk’s 1860 vines now graded ‘Outstanding’

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