If your primary interests are quality and consistency, a good place to start is Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine. The sixth edition, published in 2014, includes 139 wines divided into three categories – Exceptional, Outstanding and Excellent.
The 21 wines in the Exceptional category are Australia’s ‘first growths’, led by Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace, the two famous South Australian Shirazes with the longest pedigrees in Australian fine wine.
There are 53 wines in the Outstanding category with a further 65 wines rated Excellent.
The full list of Exceptional wines is as follows:
The Classification as a whole reveals a mature and diverse fine wine market.
It includes wines made from Chardonnay, Riesling and Semillon, Pinot Noir and Grenache-based blends as well as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, single-site wines as well as multi-regional blends, and cool-climate Shiraz from Canberra and Victoria.
After 25 years, the Classification is widely considered the most important outside France.
Unlike the famous Bordeaux 1855 Classification, the Langton’s Classification is a fluid ranking of established wines performing well over time in the secondary or auction market.
The Classification is reviewed every five years and wines can be added, deleted, promoted or demoted. Wines are eligible based on demand, reputation, quality and track record at auction, and are only considered for ranking after a minimum of 10 vintages.
Going by the current Classification, Australia’s leading wine region is the Barossa (Barossa and Eden valleys) with 30 classified wines. Next is Coonawarra, with 15, and the Clare Valley, with 12. The 36 Classified Victorian wines are spread across 13 regions and include eight from the Yarra Valley. Of Western Australia’s 12 Classified wines, 10 are from Margaret River. In NSW seven of nine Classified wines are from the Hunter Valley.
Shiraz and Shiraz-based blends (including two Grenache-dominant wines) account for 65 entries.
There are 42 Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet-based blends, followed by 11 Pinot Noirs, eight Chardonnays, six Rieslings, four fortifieds, two dry Semillons and one dessert Semillon.
Australia’s leading producers are Penfolds, with 10 classified wines, Wendouree with five, Henschke with four, and Mount Mary, Wynns, Grosset, Katnook and Noon, each with three. A further 22 producers can boast two Classified wines.
By comparison, the inaugural Classification, published in 1991, included just 34 wines, with Grange on its own in the Exceptional category.
And while Grange may still dominate, with its story and its unbroken chain of more than 60 vintages, it is certainly no longer alone – more the major player in a vibrant, dramatically expanded and constantly evolving market.
For more on the Langton’s Classification visit https://www.langtons.com.au/classification
Langton’s is Australia’s leading fine wine specialist, operating online auction and retail wine businesses together with a private customer wine broking and advisory service.
As a Vintec Club member, you are entitled to a Langton’s broker who will help you by getting to know your tastes and recommending accordingly from an unmatched portfolio of fine wine around the world.
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