Wine Talk

Snooth User: Stephen Harvey

Aussie Wine in the US

Posted by Stephen Harvey, Feb 7, 2017.

I am hoping to get some input on what Aussie wine the Snooth Community is seeing on the shelves [either retail or restaurants] in your local areas.

US wine in Australia is still very much limited to the bigger wine companies eg

Argyle Pinot Noir

Stags Leap



Occasionly the big guns from Napa will appear on the Auction Sites.

I am always happy to give any recommendations if you are looking for an Aussie experience

Now I am back doing some posting I will keep my eye out for US wines over here and see if any you think are worth me having a look at.

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 7, 2017.

Couple of Auction Items this week

Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012

Joseph Phelps Quarter Moon Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012

Giorata Sangiovese 2011

There is also some +$100 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from





Hoping to get some views on these

Reply by dmcker, Feb 7, 2017.

Ravenswood has gone through a major transition over the past decade or more. What vineyards/bottlings?

Nothing more adventurous/wideranging than these? Perhaps you can point to links in future so we can theoretically cherry pick for you.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 7, 2017.

Go to view all auctions

Just use the search filter for the US on the left



RAVENSWOOD VINEYARD, Monte Rosso Zinfandel 1997


RAVENSWOOD VINEYARD, Monte Rosso Zinfandel 1997

2 purchase options available.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 7, 2017.

Unfortunately it shows a scarcity of interesting US wine - auctions tend to be full of the supposed "rockstar wines"


Reply by outthere, Feb 7, 2017.

Verité dies three different bottlings. A Merlot "La Muse", Cab Sauv "La Joie" and Cab Franc "La Désir". Probably as high end as it gets in Sonoma County. What vintage? '09-'11 while good were not their best. Otherwise they frequently garner 100pt scores from WA.

Lokoya is very good, Cardinale more hit and miss. Ravenswood Monte Rosso is an excellent Zinfandel but more of a $40-50 proposition.

Reply by rckr1951, Feb 7, 2017.

Yellow Tail gets large shelf space and due to it's advertising and aggressive marketing sells well.  A'Arenberg, Jacob's Creek (Up to their reserve line.), Pewsey Vale, Pensfold, make up the next level to a large degree.  Above $20 you'll see Elderton, Hewiston and the like.

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 7, 2017.

As mentioned in the other thread, if it's classic Bordeaux blends from the U.S. you're after, most of the action is coming from N California, though there are some Washington wines worth checking out as well. 

California: I'd look for 1999, 2001 - 2005 for drinking now. Some 2006 may need a couple more years, 2007 can be a very simple vintage so I'd avoid it. 2010 stand out. 08/09 can be pretty good, somewhat variable. 2011 seen as a down year, but I just had a half bottle of Ridge on Super Bowl that was brilliant.

Ridge Monte Bello (needs some age, 10+ years)

Togni (needs lots of age, 15+ years)

Dunn (also 10-15 years ideal)

Forman (more enjoyable young after a few years in bottle than those above)



Verite (Excellent, but worth the price? Not sure)



Betz Pere de Famille (Clos de Betz is their Merlot heavy blend, also worthwhile)

Leonetti (Cabernet, Reserve Cab, Merlot, Sangiovese - all well regarded)


Oregon - Pinot Noir & Chardonnay

The producers I've enjoyed may not make it to Oz, even at auction!

-Cameron (Clos Electrique, makes a red and white from this vineyard, both top notch)

-Amalie-Robert (Lots of wines, but the Estate Pinot or Amalie's cuvée are the flagships)

Reply by jackwerickson, Feb 7, 2017.

Jonderrt have a question I am on the leonetti list to buy , my question is why would buy their Sangiovese at $70 dollars when I can buy Italian at half the price? I know you cannot answer for me I have to make my own decisions,for some reason I have a block buying Italian wines from US vintner.

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 7, 2017.

Admittedly, The Leonetti Sangiovese is probably more of a novelty item Jack. It's going to be completely different than the Italian versions.., I'd expect Leonetti's to drink on its own or with good, while most Italian versions will need food to shine.

Reply by rckr1951, Feb 7, 2017.

JD - I believe the word is food.

Reply by vin0vin0, Feb 7, 2017.

Stephen, just checked my spreadsheet and filtered on "Australia", here are Australian wines I've purchased in the last 6-7 years, nothing on the high end, mostly everyday drinkers:

Greenpoint Chardonnay
Elderton Barossa, Franceiends Vineyard Series
Evans & Tate Chardonnay Metricup Road
Rock Gully Shiraz Viognier
Hope Estate Chardonnay
Jip Jip Rocks Chardonnay
Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz Carbernet
M. Chapoutier Shiraz Tournon Mathilda
McWilliam's Chardonnay
Molly Dooker The Scooter Merlot
Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer
Mollydooker Two Left Feet
Jacob's Creek Reserve Chardonnay
Penfolds Bin 2
Penfolds Koonunga Shiraz Cabernet
R. L. Buller & Son Fine Muscat
R. L. Buller & Son Fine Tokay
Repeat Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc
Shingleback Shiraz McLaren Vale
Blackwing Shiraz
Terra Barossa Shiraz
Hedonist Rose
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay
Yalumba Viognier The Y Series
Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 7, 2017.


Any standout as interesting from your perspective

I quite like the Shingleback as it is an honest expression of McLaren Vale Shiraz

Penfolds Koonunga Hill has been regarded as one of the most consistent and easy to drink everyday quaffers.  It is a good entry level example of what you can expect as you go further up the Penfolds chain

If you get a chance and you like riesling try Pewsey Vale - it comes from Yalumba and we drink it quite often as a weekday glass of white - it also comes in a hupper end version Pewsey Vale Contours which is excellent for ageing 

Reply by rckr1951, Feb 7, 2017.

VV - That's good idea, I gonna see if I can reformat my list that way.

Reply by vin0vin0, Feb 7, 2017.

Stephen, this one stands above the rest - 2006 Clarendon Hills Grenache Old Vines Blewitt Springs, although this was a gift, no doubt the best Aussie wine I've had.  The Shingleback's were very good cab/shiraz blends for the price ~$20. We love riesling so will see if there is any Pewsey Vale to be had in NC.

RCKR - I use CellarTracker but before that I put together a spreadsheet of my wine purchases which I can sort and filter in a million different ways.  If anyone is interested I'll be more than happy to send you my spreadsheet setup.

Reply by amour, Feb 7, 2017.

OMG!!--Mc Williams is great!    TRUST ME!!!

Reply by rckr1951, Feb 7, 2017.

I like the McWilliams Semillion better.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 7, 2017.

Clarendon Hills make awesome wines but they are in the Napa CS price range, however Blewitt Springs is a nice little spot just at the Northern [sort off] end of McLaren Vale and his Grenache is excellent, 2006 was unusual, weather conditions suggested an excellent vintage but for some reason there was many pockets of dissappointment to go with some outstanding wines.

McWilliams are a great company and their 2 Semillons are amazing 

Elizabeth which is in the 15-20 range

Lovedale which is in the +35 range

Lovedale will age forever and they survive brilliantly with no Oak treatment.

They are from the Lovedale region of the Hunter Valley in NSW which produces awesome Semillon in most years.

Hunter is a tough region because it virtually borders the southern end of the tropical rain cycle which means early ripening Semillon nearly always gets picked but they wait with trepidation to see if the CHardonnay and Shiraz ripen before any tropical rain hits.  When they do get a great vintage the Shiraz and CHardonnay are very good

Reply by GregT, Feb 8, 2017.

"The Leonetti Sangiovese is probably more of a novelty item Jack. It's going to be completely different than the Italian versions"

This is true although the Leonetti version is good on its own.

Sangiovese is another grape that deserves wider expression. We're willing to drink Merlot or Pinot Noir from many countries but sniff at Nebbiolo or Sangiovese because those can "only" be grown in certain regions of Italy.

The main problem is that, as you see on the Pinot Noir thread, to do a good Sangiovese you need the same thing you need for any grape - a good vineyard, a good vintage, and good wine making. And since there isn't a lot planted outside of Tuscany, it means newer plantings. That means more money.

There's actually some good Sangiovese elsewhere - Leonetti for sure but I had some decent stuff in Temecula of all places. OTOH, it's $30+/bottle and you can get Chianti Classico for less and Morellino di Scansano for much less and of quality that's probably as good. So if you're going to have to charge over $30/bottle, do you plant Sangiovese?

But I love the people who do.

To the OP - I guess it really depends on where you are. There are a few Australian producers getting some buzz as they should be, but many stores are stocking only the large-production wines from Penfolds, Lindeman's, etc. But I was at a tasting a few months ago where there were some fantastic Australian wines, some looking for importers, others needing to be discovered, and there were a lot of interested tasters, so who knows.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 8, 2017.


I think we often think of new varieties outside of their traditional regions as being of lesser importance/quality.

Probably just human nature, but also my experience here in Australia as I said in the Pinot thread is that it takes time to work out if the site and clone selection are the best option.

Many Aussie winemakers are trying Nebbiolo and Sangiovese as certain regions appear have the right soil and weather.  We also have a lot of Italians in Australia although not a huge number in the wine industry [they all make plenty of money from fresh fruit and veg and then become landlords]

We are making some ok Sangiovese but that grape has head start on Nebbiolo

I expect we will improve as we have done under Pinot but the intrigue will be stylistically how will these develop?

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 8, 2017.

Spot on points Greg. I think it's the QPR comparison that made me think of Leonetti's as being more of a novelty. I should just grab one and try it. It's one of those wines I've been near to pullingbthe trigger on in the past.

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