Mount Mary Quintet 1999 - We actually had three bottles of this spectacular Yarra Valley wine in 2008. We had one on our fifth anniversary, and I shared the other two with some good mates over dinner in the Hunter Valley. This Cabernet blend was my favorite of 2008, but it was also probably the only reasonably aged wine that I had, so not really a surprise I suppose. At a retail price of $100+ it is not something you pull off the shelf every day, but well worth it if you want to spoil yourself. You will rarely go wrong with the Mount Mary wines, but they will lighten your wallet.Saltram No. 1 Shiraz 2003 - I have always wanted to try this wine, as I am a fan of Nigel Dolan, the chief winemaker at Saltram. We got our chance when we found it at Dan Murphy's for under $40 (it normally retails for around $60). This is a classic Barossa Shiraz, well worth its price, and an absolute bargain if you find it below $50. The Mamre Brook range from Saltram is also an excellent value at around $20 per bottle.
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2005 - The so called experts will tell you this is Australia's best Chardonnay. Who am I to disagree? We splurged on this Margaret River beauty one night while out with mates, and I also picked up two of these bottles for the cellar thanks to some timely Wine Ark specials. If you've gone off Chardonnay in the last few years, try this and you will be back on board. The next challenge is to have the patience to let one age.
Peter Lehman Stonewall Shiraz 1998 - We didn't buy this wine, but it was served as the red wine of choice at a friend's wedding, and I am sure I drank more than a bottle, so I am not breaking the ground rules! This is teeth staining stuff, and I tried my best to paint my teeth red that night. This Barossa Shiraz requires patience thought, it is a wine that is made to last.
Jacob's Creek Steingarten Riesling 2006 - This wine normally retails for $25+ but we found it on special at Dan Murphy's for $19. We quickly grabbed a few cases and didn't waste any time getting through them. It is drinking brilliantly now, but will also age. This is one of the benchmark Australian Rieslings that will probably change any preconceived notions that you had of the variety.
Lakes Folly Cabernets - Having been members of this winery for a few years now, which entitles us to an annual allocation of 8 Cabernets and 4 Chardonnay, the cellar is well stocked with these wines. I took a case on a weekend away with friends, and although both were a hit, the Cabernet blend was the favorite. A great medium bodied Hunter Valley Cabernet blend, which is rare for the region.
Rockford Moppa Springs Grenache/Mataro/Shiraz 2004 - Through a colleague at work, I finally managed to get on to the Rockford Mailing List. Over time, loyalty on the mailing list is rewarded with membership to the famous Stonewallers' Club, which entitles you to an annual allocation of a case of Basket Press Shiraz. Along the way, you also get to have some fantastic wines such as this one. Very fruity, with a bit of spice to keep things interesting and well worth its $30 price tag.
Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2005 - A bit of a cult wine in Australia that is pretty difficult to come by (read above). We found this in a wine store in Queenstown , New Zealand for under NZ$100 and drank it that night. If they had more than the one bottle remaining, I would have bought the lot. This is one of my all time favorite wines and thanks to the refreshing philosophy of those at Rockford, it is still at a reasonable price ($55 for Stonewallers).
Barons of the Barossa Shiraz 2006 - The annoying monthly phone calls from the Wine Society finally got the better of me and I ordered a case of this for under $20/bottle. It was a great surprise and we've finished the entire case already. The wine is made from premium fruit contributed by various Barons of the Barossa, a fraternity of the best wine 'personalities' in the Barossa. They have hooked me in to an annual purchase. Great value stuff.There you have it - my top Australian wines of 2008. I'm already looking forward to the 2009 post, having already cut our teeth on a few crackers in January, and look forward to contributing to Chokecherry Pancakes on a regular basis.