100 Most Iconic Wine Estates:
Australia

Cullen Wines Margaret River
Eminent agronomist Dr John Gladstone’s studies of the Margaret River region drew parallels between the climate there and of Bordeaux. This encouraged the Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen to plant a trial acre of vines at Wilyabrup (a place sometimes referred to as ‘Aussie Paulliac’) in, the heart of Margaret River, in 1966. They were impressed with the performance of the vines and this encouraged them to plant a further 18 acres of vines on their sheep and cattle farm in 1971. Whilst Kevin worked his day job as a doctor, guy managed the winery and became chief winemaker in 1981. A year later she made history by becoming the first woman to win a trophy at the Perth Royal show. In 1983 she was joined by her daughter Vanya, who was later made chief winemaker in 1989. The staggeringly talented, brave family has inspired and in Taiwan industry in Margaret river and beyond, and great to Western Australia. Both Kevin and I were awarded member of the order for Australia – Kevin for medicine and wine and Di for viticulture and wine – among many other accolades. Today the estate are certified by dynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered and the wine ranges finer than ever. Vanya is regarded as one of the most talented wine makers and her wines are sold on allocation in all corners of the globe.
None of the Cullen wines have yeast additions, acid additions or use malolactic culture. The Cullen mantra is that they totally natural ones which express the place and land on which they are grown, the vintage and the people who make them.
Diana Madeline Cabernet is the estate’s flagship wine and Di’s husband Kevin, who died in 1994 is also remembered with Cullen Wines’ Kevin John Chardonnay. Both wines are among the greatest wines in the country and it is fitting that we are reminded of them often because they – along with a handful of other families – the pioneers in the world-famous Margaret river region of Western Australia.
Leeuwin Estate Margaret River
Denis and Tricia Horgan set up a set up at Leeuwin, in the idyllic surroundings of Margaret River, in the early 70s. Rather than just using any old wine consultant they availed themselves of the services of the legendary Californian wine hero Robert Mondavi. Clearly the decisions made 50 years ago were the right ones because Leeuwin makes the world class wines and certainly one of the best Chardonnays in the country. The Art Series Chardonnay is their iconic flagship wine, labelled with a piece of indigenous Australian art each release since 1983. Prelude, the second label, is also a stunning release. They also make sterling Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. The concerts on the grounds are spectacular, too.
Jim Barry Clare Valley
Jim Barry, the first qualified winemaker to work in Claire back in 1959, is an institution to the region. Since Jim’s death in 2004, his son Peter has, with the help of his son Sam and Tom, run the winery which, given its geographical location, is a Shiraz, Cabernet and Riesling specialist. Their iconic flagship wine, The Armagh Shiraz comes from a vineyard planted by Jim in 1968 and to which has been awarded a perfect score by Matthew Jukes for the 2006 vintage.
Benbournie is a stunning Cabernet Sauvignon that is wild and untamed. ‘Pb’ (named after Peter Barry himself) is a mesmerizing Shiraz/Cabernet blend. With The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling and Shiraz – two of Australia’s most over-delivering, every-day priced wines – you already have a captivating portfolio. Their most important white wine is The Florita Riesling, a minute production from a sensational single vineyard that brings a tear to the eye such its pristine minerality and poise.
Grosset Clare Valley
Grosset Wines is located in Auburn at the Southern End of the Clare Valley, about 100km north of Adelaide in South Australia. The Clare Valley is a Mecca for lovers of dry, prickly, lime juice-imbued Riesling and savoury, swarthy, enigmatic red wines made predominantly from Shiraz and Cabernet. It is this region which fashions the most seductive and age-worthy of all Australian dry Rieslings and Grosset Wines is the most famous name around.
Established in 1981 by the eponymous Jeffrey Grosset, it’s a true boutique winery making several different labels, but with a maximum production of only 12,000 cases it’s similar in size and output to a small, top-flight Burgundy Domaine. With four main sources of fruit – three in Clare and one in Adelaide Hills – this is a multi-skilled operation which excels at a challenging range of vinous disciplines. Jeff is one of the most inspirational men in wine; he is highly engaging and very generous with his time and knowledge. He has inspired legions of young Aussie winemakers to strive for perfection and his stance on screw caps is legendary. He and a few other pioneers and Clare were the first to take this innovative closure on well over two decades ago and well before the Melbourne Sauvignon Blanc gang got there!
If someone says to you ‘Clare Riesling’, the most famous name to always crop up is Jeff’s. There are two main Rieslings in his portfolio – Springvale Watervale Riesling and Polish Hill Riesling. Springvale is found on the high ground in the north-eastern corner of the Watervale sub-region. The topsoil is rich and red over limestone; the vines are robust, laden with generous fruit which parades piercingly forward, precocious characteristics.
By comparison, Springvale always seems to be earlier drinking than Polish Hill, but this is an illusion. Springvale is immediately pleasing, requires less concentration and yet ages with grace and persistence, along a differing but no less noble trajectory than Polish Hill. It has an energy about it seems innocent, unsullied and delicate. Polish Hill however is more brutal terrain, sitting in a U-shaped ridge north of Mount Horrocks, with smaller vines, smaller bunches and where are hard-working attitudes abounds. The wine is firm, savoury, mineral-soaked, often closed its use and certainly more intense than it stablemate.
Jeff also has an exceptional Clare Valley red wine called Gaia. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, it comes from an amazing single vineyard in the middle of cornfields 570 m above the valley. It is as mesmerising and elemental as any red one can taste – it is as raw and unspoiled as the wild valley itself. Jeff also switches codes to include a Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc that segues between the to wine regions – the Semillon slices from the Claire Valley and the Sauvignon Blanc part hails from the Adelaide hills.
Serious is that he draws on the prime territory for each of the two groups and this intern leads to an extra dimension of complexity in the finished article.
The Chardonnay comes from the beautiful Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide hills and has a profound joy. The sensitivity of oak in this very robust wine is perfectly judged and it certainly shows by Australian Chardonnay is one of the finest category of white wines in the world. The two final wines are – a sultry sensual Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir that makes the most of its briary, earthy notes and one of only a handful of top-flight Pinots still made in the hills and, secondly, an Off-Dry Clare Riesling.
The Grosset brand is as a highly recognised and awarded as any in Australia but Jeff’s humility and work ethic is second to none, and this is what makes him so endearing. This one iconic estate that demonstrates one man’s genius crystal-clearly in every glass.
Peter Lehmann Barossa Valley
Peter Lehmann is one of the most famous men in the Australian wine business, and his eponymous brand has possibly had an immeasurable impact on wine lovers and the wine trade. A Member of the Order of Australia in the inaugural list of Australian Honours for his contribution to Australian wine, he was first Australian wine industry figure to be recognised in this way.
Peter was a Barossan through and through having fought for his region, his growers and his wines throughout his life, starting in the business at the tender age of 17. He was joined at Saltram Wines by Andrew Wigan to create a remarkable team, surviving many financial scrapes along the way and the fact that the wines only ever improved year-on-year is a great testament to his acumen, his winery staff and their consummate skill.
In 1987 Peter and Andrew created the first Stonewall Shiraz from specially selected parcels of fruit and the best barrels. It had perfect scores from critics, cited as “categorically one of the best value Shiraz on the planet, that you simply must taste”. The Peter Lehmann Master Series includes the Wigan Riesling, Margaret Semillion (after Peter’s wife), Eight Songs Shiraz, Mentor Cabernet and a botrytised Semillion – all of which are sensational, and unmissable wines. They sing of the Barossa and Eden Valley regions which Peter spent his life championing. Along with a vast range of everyday wines and restaurant labels, Peter Lehmann is a name you can trust.
Penfolds Barossa Valley
Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold was an Englishman born in 1811 and studied medicine in London in 1838. Six years later he set sail with his wife Mary where they bought the Mackgill estate (later changed to Magill) living in the homestead they called Grange. At the time, Penfolds produced a fortified wine tonic, for patients with anaemia, made from Grenache cuttings from the Southern Rhône. Following on from her husband’s death, Mary Penfold assumed the running of the company in 1870 and became a formidable wine matriarch.
From 1943 onwards throughout the decade, Penfolds acquired a number of vineyards in wineries, namely Auldana and Kalimna; gradually shifting from fortified wines to table wines to suit the modern palette. Penfold’s chief winemaker, the legendary Mac Schubert, went on to create Australia’s most famous wine, Grange Hermitage in 1951 which was then commercially released in 1953. Later it became Grange, the mighty Shiraz, the country’s most revered red wine.
Today Penfolds’ portfolio is diverse and while the emphasis has always been on mighty, age-worthy the red wines, the whites (in particular the Chardonnay with Yattarna at the top of the pile and the Reserve Bin A – and exclusively Adelaide hills-based wine) pick up many trophies in the wine shows as the reds.
You can still drink Penfolds wine every day prices, too. The recently released Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet is a steal and it echoes the style and bravado of a bygone era. A more approachable Grange-style offering is the St. Henri Shiraz made with no new oak whatsoever. Penfolds started off with a heroic ascendancy into the world of fine wine with Grange, but as the phenomenal, diverse portfolio is just as exciting and it is this which entrances the masses in the hope that they, too, one day, will taste the iconic Grange.
Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley
In 2008, Tyrrell’s celebrated its 150th anniversary of making wine in the Hunter Valley. It was one and a half centuries and five generations ago that Edward Tyrrell arrived in Pokolbin. Today it’s Bruce Tyrrell, the most renowned exponent of drives to man on the planet he’s taken the role of company patriarch.
In 1854, Edward Tyrrell left from England for Sydney, Australia where he bought 320 acres of prime Hunter Valley land, flanking the Brokenback Range. Initially, he was disappointed with his lot. His was one of the last remaining properties for sale in the area, which seemingly lacked the fertility of the river soils so prized for cattle farming and also flourishing vineyards. He decided to plant the land with vine cutting propagated from the famous James Busby plant material imported from Europe in 1832, focusing on Shiraz and Semillion.
When Edward died in 1909 it was discovered that his choice of properties was actually the luckiest of all; boasting some of the finest limestone soils in the region.
It was the third generation whose straightforward mantra was: “Once you add anything to wine, you never improve it”. With the wine industry of the day in decline, they opted to focus solely on their top wines. Their Private Bin initiative started with individual casks matured in numbered 2250-litre casks. Visitors were taste wines directly from the vats before placing their orders for these unique wines unavailable elsewhere. People will travel for miles for this experience; fuelling the thriving tourist industry that ensued as well as the Private Bin Club, Australia’s first mail order club. Vat 1 Semillion, Vat 6 Pinot Noir, Vat 8 Shiraz/Cabernet, Vat 9 Shiraz and Vat 47 Chardonnay are the surviving wines from this era and the flagship cuvées today.
Through judicious purchases, the family has 800 acres under vine today and alongside the Vat Series, Tyrrell’s has developed an individual vineyard series of exceptional wines which includes Stevens (Shiraz and Semillion), Belford (Chardonnay and Semillion), HVD (Semillion) and 4 Acres (Shiraz). Some of these vines date back to 1867 and are all pre-phylloxera making them very special creations.
The winery is a blend of ancient and modern; still holding the original press that Edward Tyrrell installed in 1863 for the Belford and Vat 47 Chardonnays. This is a family business that commands incredible respect and influence.
Clonakilla Canberra District
The Clonakilla estate may only date back 50 or so years but its impact has been staggering. The Clonakilla Vineyard (meaning meadow of the church) was established in 1971 by John Kirk on a 44-acre farm near the village of Murrumbateman, north of Canberra and his son Tim is now the resident winemaker there. Tim is a passionate fan of Rhône wines and it was his tour of the Rhône back in 1991, that inspired him to blend Viognier with his well-established Shiraz vines. This started the trend for Australian Shiraz/Viognier blends and suddenly Clonakilla’s wines were on everyone’s lips. Highly sought after by restauranteurs and private collectors are like, these are some of the most sensual reds in the country. Tim has also made a different red cuvée simply called Syrah which is modelled on Hermitage, in order to complement his already fanatically followed paean to Côte-Rôtie.
Your passport to:

The very best wine, whisky and fine wine dining experiences.

Please let us know what products interests you, so we can make sure we send exclusive offers to you.