Sommelier, consultant and writer
What’s the best way for someone to maximise a small space for a wine collection?
The key to a well-rounded cellar is balance – making sure you have wines that not only suit every occasion, but also match your personal preference. There’s no point having a cellar full of cabernet and other fuller-bodied reds if you prefer light, crunchy reds. I like to show balance by picking the best wines from the best regions. I like to break down my cellar, and my clients’, into styles and occasions or themes for ease of restocking – and being able to grab something quickly on the fly.
You’ve stocked up on some wines that are equally delicious young as they are with a few years’ bottle age. Is there a tendency for people to forget how good a young, well-balanced wine can be?
I think this ties into more homes having less space; it’s important that your wines are approachable and deliciously drinkable when you buy them. Just because you can age a wine, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. More and more wines are being produced in a thoughtful, early drinking style, perfectly suited to go straight from the winery to the dinner table.
Over what kind of period would you consume your selection of sweet and fortified wines?
I’d be drinking these quickly and with reckless abandon! The beauty of fortifieds is that the hard part of cellaring is already done – especially in the case of the Seppeltsfield Museum Aged Flor Apera, which is matured in the solero to around 50 years of age. The Framingham Riesling and De Bortoli Noble One have been known to keep developing for at least a couple of decades.
Samantha Payne's $5,000 cellar
(wines for any occasion)
3x Koerner Mammolo Sciacarello, Clare Valley $105
3x Schmölzer & Brown Obstgarten Riesling, Beechworth $117
2x M&J Becker Wines Bold and the Beautiful Shiraz Viognier, Hunter Valley (1,500ml) $180
3x Meadowbank Gamay, Tasmania $129
3x Rippon Osteiner, Central Otago $99
2x House of Arras Blanc de Blancs, Tasmania $152
2x Deviation Road Loftia Sparkling, Adelaide Hills $170
1x Hanging Rock Late Disgorged Cuvee X, Macedon Ranges $115
6x Dal Zotto Col Fondo Prosecco, King Valley $115
3x Dr Ongo Pet-Nat, Tasmania $105
3x Swinging Bridge G&A Sparkling, Orange $114
6x Rieslingfreak No.5 Off Dry Riesling, Clare Valley $162
3x Hesket Estate Gerwürztraminer, Macedon Ranges $90
3x Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris, Central Otago $135
3x Dormilona Clayface Chenin Blanc, Margaret River $90
Hearty winter reds
3x Cullen Red Moon Malbec, Margaret River $90
3x Henschke Henry’s Seven, Barossa Valley $111
6x Ravensworth Barbera and Nebbiolo, Hilltops $168
Chardonnay and fuller-bodied whites
3x Bremerton Bâtonnage Chardonnay, Langhorne Creek $96
1x Brash Higgins Bloom Chardonnay (700ml), McLaren Vale $85
3x Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay, Auckland $180
3x Gilbert Chardonnay, Orange $90
3x Terrason Aligoté, King Valley $96
(wines that will be incredible with 10+ years age)
1x Bindi Quartz Chardonnay, Macedon Ranges $90
1x Wendouree Shiraz Mataro, Clare Valley $125
1x Lake’s Folly Cabernets, Hunter Valley $99
1x Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir, Central Otago $160
1x Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Riesling (1500ml) $120
Lighter, crunchy and chillable reds
3x Anim Field Blend Red, Tasmania $96
3x Silkman Reserve Shiraz Pinot, Hunter Valley $150
3x Rasa A Dry Red Blend, Barossa Valley $90
3x Oakridge Pinot Meunier, Yarra Valley $90
3x Sailor Seeks Horse Pinot Noir, Tasmania $165
Dessert wines and fortifieds
3x De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon, Riverina (500ml) $165
3x Framingham F-Series Auslese Riesling, Marlborough(375ml) $198
1x Seppeltsfield DP 898 Museum Aged Flor Apera, Barossa (500ml) $499
3x David Franz Old Redemption X.O Tawny (500ml) $150
GT WINE contributor, writer and critic
Do you think we give New Zealand pinot enough credit for its ability to age well?
I don’t think pinot needs any longer than 10 years to be honest, whatever its origin, unless it really is top drawer. I opened a couple of ’09 Burgundies not so long ago and they were absolutely at their peak. I think winemakers tell consumers their wines will last for ages as consumers think this is a sign of a premium wine. It is so depressing when you’re invited out and someone brings an old bottle and you have to choke down a glass while thinking, ‘This is way past it.’ The beauty of buying wine today is that 90% of it can be consumed on release – we don’t have to keep it. In New Zealand I’d always give Martinborough time in the cellar as they tend to have slightly firmer tannin profiles for New Zealand. But Marlborough, North Canterbury and Otago have such intense flavours that 5-8 years for the best is all that’s needed. These wines can develop but are often delicious when young.
The two cabernets you’ve selected – Te Mata’s iconic Coleraine, often regarded as New Zealand’s benchmark, and Wynn’s Black Label, arguably Australia’s best value – are both very different in style (and price points). Why did you choose these wines?
I love cabernet – it comes in for such a hard time and I can’t see why. Te Mata makes a style of wine I adore; it really does age beautifully (not many NZ cabernets do, despite the claims of their producers). It has pedigree and history. I’m biased but Coonawarra is one of my favourite regions. I judged there a few years ago and had the best time. Sue Hodder and Sarah Pidgeon are a magnificent team and I love how they’re pursuing a medium-bodied, 13.5% alcohol style. Sue opened a Wynns from my birth year (universally acknowledged as the worst one since the dawn of time) and it was delicious. It had never moved from the Wynns cellar. Maybe I’d have aged as well had I stayed underground! Here in New Zealand, the Black Label can be found for around $30 a bottle – an absolute bargain. What else can I get for that price? A very, very minor Bordeaux rouge, maybe. I know where I’d spend my money.
When it comes to Rutherglen fortifieds, what do you feel these unique and various styles offer the savvy collector?
They’re one of the world’s greatest, unique wine styles – and woefully neglected by most wine drinkers. Dessert wines can be hit and miss but you know with Rutherglen you’ll get something brilliant and truly sweet. My puddings are terrible but a good cheese selection and a Rutherglen muscat or topaque, and you are winning. When everyone has gone home and you’re left with the washing up, who wants another glass of whole-bunchy pinot noir when you could be enjoying the nectar of the gods?
Jane Skilton's $10,000 cellar
12x Quartz Reef Blanc de Blancs, Central Otago $900
12x NV Nautilus BRUT, Marlborough $420
3x Te Mata Estate Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay $90
12x Dog Point Chardonnay, Marlborough $480
6x The Boneline Barebone Chardonnay, North Canterbury $180
6x Kumeu River Rays Road Chardonnay, Auckland $240
6x Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay, Auckland $330
6x Tolpuddle Chardonnay, Tasmania $360
6x Giant Steps Wombat Creek Vineyard Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $360
6x Te Whare Ra Gerwürztraminer, Marlborough $210
6x Prophet’s Rock Home Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago $402
6x Valli Gibbston Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago $390
6x Dry River Pinot Noir, Martinborough $450
12x Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir, Central Otago $480
6x Black Estate Damsteep Pinot Noir, North Canterbury $252
12x Doctors Flat Pinot Noir, Central Otago $504
6x Esk Valley Syrah, Hawke’s Bay $150
3x Bilancia La Collina Syrah, Hawke’s Bay $360
6x Elephant Hill Reserve Syrah, Hawke’s Bay $324
3x Te Mata Estate Coleraine, Hawke’s Bay $345
6x Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra $270
12x Pfeiffer Christopers’ VP, Rutherglen $360
6x Pfeiffer Rare Topaque, Rutherglen $738
6x Pfeiffer Rare Muscat, Rutherglen $738
6x Morris Classic Liqueur Topaque, Rutherglen $210
6x Morris Classic Liqueur Muscat, Rutherglen $210
GT Wine Contributor, wine writer and critic
Wendouree Cabernet Malbec is such a cellar classic but do you think that it is perhaps often underrated compared with the iconic Wendouree Shiraz?
It’s controversial perhaps but I think the best Clare Valley wines are cabernet-based. Shiraz is more fashionable, but I find all the most satisfying wines are cabernet, or cabernet blends. They live longer too. Who wants to be fashionable anyway?
Your selection of pinot noir and chardonnay is quite NZ-heavy with a decent spread across regions too. Why these wines?
Call it some welcome Kiwi ‘spice’ to my usual Australian and French pinot and chardonnay diet. This mix mirrors what I already have in the cellar, and all of them will just get better. I love Kumeu River Mate’s at any age, but there is a 3-4-year sweet spot when it’s both weighty and interesting. The Rippon, Bell Hill and Kusuda are wines that I kick myself for not having more of every time I open one. The only outlier might be the Dog Point Chardonnay and that’s a sentimental choice. Not only are the Sutherlands great people, it’s also an ideal options wine: everyone thinks it’s white Burgundy.
Is there a particular style of wine people often don’t consider cellaring but should?Cellar more Hunter Valley semillon – nothing else can perplex and delight. The wines are comparatively cheap, will live for decades and they work so well with modern Australian food. I prefer drinking Hunter sem when it’s 8-10 years old, though that 2005 Vat 1 is a magical wine that is just in its zone right now.
Are there any wines that in hindsight, you wish you had bought more of in the past?Years ago, I had access to a stash of back vintage Seppelt Show Reserve Sparkling Shiraz and I didn’t buy any. They’re showpiece wines with stories in the bottle. The world needs to drink more sparkling reds and that label is THE forgotten icon. I missed my chance; the more recent vintages have been a shadow of those old wines.
Andrew Graham's $10,000 cellar
6 x Wendouree Cabernet Malbec, Clare Valley $840
6 x Te Mata Coleraine, Hawkes Bay $690
6 x Standish The Standish Shiraz, Barossa Valley $600
6 x Yeringberg Cabernet Blend, Yarra Valley $570
6 x Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz, Hunter Valley $570
6 x Main Ridge Half Acre Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula $480
3 x Kusuda Pinot Noir, Martinborough $450
6 x Rippon Pinot Noir, Central Otago $480
3 x Bell Hill Pinot Noir, North Canterbury $600
6 x Giaconda Chardonnay, Beechworth $750
6 x Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay, Auckland $510
6 x Dog Point Chardonnay, Marlborough $210
6 x Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling, Eden Valley $240
6 x Crawford River Reserve Riesling, Henty $570
6 x 2005 tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley $900
6 x 2019 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley $540
6 x Primo Estate Joseph Sparkling Red, McLaren Vale $600
6 x Morris Old Premium rare Muscat, Rutherglen $480
Co-owner & Sommelier, Stillwater and Black Cow Bistro, Launceston
Tasmania is unsurprisingly well represented. Are there any particular regions, varieties or producers you’ve identified as being particularly good bets for the cellar?
I’m a big fan of Tasmanian riesling, with its cool-climate acidity providing great ageing potential. As the years go on, I tend to see this lovely honeyed, petroleum character in Tassie riesling. I also like to visit Tasmanian pinots young and at five years of age. In terms of producers, I wouldn’t build a Tasmania-focused cellar without including wines from Holyman and Stoney Rise, Sailor Seeks Horse, Hughes & Hughes, Two Tonne Tasmania, Chatto and [Peter Dredge’s] Dr Edge label.
What styles of white wines do you think absolutely need a bit of bottle age to shine, and why?
Definitely chardonnay. Tasmanian chardonnay again shows this line of cool-climate acidity that over time melds into the wine. With a bit of age, Tassie chardonnay shows balance, a sense of roundness, and those delicious bottle-age characters that are often missed by drinking these wines too young.
Is there one bottle stashed in your collection at home that you just can’t bring yourself to open?
A 2008 Penfolds Grange. It’s pretty much the only bottle left in my cellar post Covid-19; I couldn’t tell you how or why it ended up in my cellar. As you can probably tell from my list, I tend to buy wines ready to drink – I have very little patience. I can’t bring myself to open the Grange mainly because of its value. Give me a dozen bottles of 2018 Tolpuddle Pinot any day of the week!
James Welsh's $15,000 cellar
3x Mount Mary Quintet, Yarra Valley $450
3x Cullen Diana Madeline, Margaret River $405
3x Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon, Tasmania $285
3x Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, Canberra District $360
6x Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, Barossa Valley $432
6x timo mayer Syrah, Yarra Valley $330
6x Sami Odi Little Wine #9 Shiraz, Barossa Valley $300
3x Nocturne SR Cabernets, Margaret River $180
6x Ruggabellus Archaeus Syrah, Barossa Valley $390
6x Paralian Wines Grenache, McLaren Vale $252
6x Adelina Grenache, Clare Valley $240
6x Latta Vino Headwaters Nebbiolo, Pyrenees $240
6x Hughes & Hughes Dornfelder, Tasmania $210
6x Koerner La Korse, Clare Valley $180
6x Stefano Lubiana Il Giardino Pinot Noir, Tasmania $540
6x Sailor Seeks Horse Pinot Noir, Tasmania $330
6x Two Tonne Tasmania TMV Pinot Noir, Tasmania $204
6x Stoney Rise Pinot Noir, Tasmania $174
3x Bell Hill Pinot Noir, North Canterbury $600
6x Tolpuddle Pinot Noir, Tasmania $510
6x William Downie Gippsland Pinot Noir, Gippsland $420
6x Chatto Bird Pinot Noir, Tasmania $414
6x Burn Cottage Pinot Noir, Central Otago $390
6x Charteris Pinot Noir, Central Otago $258
6x Ngeringa Uncultured Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills $180
6x TIMO Mayer Bloody Hill Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley $180
6x Sinapius Chardonnay, Tasmania $330
6x Stargazer Chardonnay, Tasmania $330
3x Giaconda Chardonnay, Beechworth $360
6x Holyman Chardonnay, Tasmania $300
6x Dr Edge South Chardonnay, Tasmania $300
6x Deep Woods Reserve Chardonnay, Margaret River $300
6x A. Rodda Smiths Chardonnay, Beechworth $270
6x Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay $240
6x Oakridge Garden Gris, Yarra Valley $162
6x Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc, Gisborne $210
6x Brokenwood ILR reserve Semillon, Hunter Valley $570
6x Fleet Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula $174
6x Mewstone Riesling, Tasmania $300
6x Meadowbank Riesling, Tasmania $210
6x Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, Clare Valley $360
6x Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling, Frankland River $252
6x Brian Rizza, Tasmania (375ml) $120
6x Bondar wines Rosé, McLaren Vale $156
6x Domaine Simha Nature Sauvignon Blanc, Tasmania $240
6x House of Arras Blanc de Blancs, Tasmania $450
6x Apogee Vintage Deluxe vintage Rosé, Tasmania $432
6x Ravensworth Riesling Ancestral (pét-nat), Canberra District $228
Winemaker, Margan, Hunter Valley
You have a great selection from the Clare Valley. What do you find this region offers keen cellarers?
The wines are incredibly affordable and have great ageing prospects. Clare riesling doesn’t break the bank when you buy a dozen to drink over a 12-year period. I love young Clare riesling as much as aged so multiple bottle purchases are a must for our household. Clare cabernet and shiraz are also great drinking wines; it’s a region with so much history and vine age that it’s a shame its reds are often overlooked. I generally buy based on producers that I like, and I prefer restrained use of oak.
Do you prefer to drink semillon at a particular age?
Semillon is a very underrated variety and deserves a bigger platform in Australia. Similar to riesling, I drink semillon young and with age. As a general rule of thumb, either drink it in its youth at one year old or put it down for 5- 20 years to enjoy the complex characters that come with ageing. I drink a lot of my own semillon as well as Tyrrell’s, First Creek and Brokenwood. I fell in love with the variety when I first tried Brokenwood’s 2003 ILR Semillon in 2013, when I was at university.
What was the first wine you bought with the intention of cellaring – and when do you plan on drinking it (if you haven’t already)?
I am terrible at leaving wines in the cellar! Luckily my partner has far more patience, so he hides a fair bit out of sight. We buy most of our back-vintage wines on auction, already aged, however I did buy a mixed six pack of Wendouree reds in 2013 with the intention of leaving them alone for a few years. I still have a couple of the Shiraz Malbec and Shiraz Mataro left.
Nicole Wilson's $15,000 cellar
4x Oakridge 864 Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $360
4x Giant Steps Applejack Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley $260
4x NV Domaine Chandon Brut, Yarra Valley $100
4x Giant Steps LDR, Yarra Valley $150
4x Yarra Yering Pinot Shiraz, Yarra Valley $380
2x Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 1, Yarra Valley $240
2x Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 2, Yarra Valley $240
2x Mount Mary Quintet, Yarra Valley $300
4x Luke Lambert Nebbiolo, Yarra Valley $240
4x Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay, Margaret River $400
4x Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River $440
12x Nocturne Sub Regional Chardonnay, Margaret River $360
6x Nocturne Sub Regional Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River $180
12x Nocturne Rosé, Margaret River $336
6x Deep Woods Reserve Chardonnay, Margaret River $300
4x Deep Woods Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River $280
3x Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River $270
3x Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River $255
3x Tyrrell’s 4 Acre Shiraz, Hunter Valley $285
3x Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz, Hunter Valley $285
4x Mount Pleasant Rosehill Shiraz, Hunter Valley $200
6x Tyrrell’s Johnno’s Semillon, Hunter Valley $414
6x Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley $480
6x Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay, Hunter Valley $420
3x First Creek winemaker’s Reserve Semillon, Hunter Valley $195
12x Nick O’Leary White Rocks Riesling, Canberra District $420
3x Wendouree Shiraz Malbec, Clare Valley $375
3x Wendouree Shiraz, Clare Valley $375
4x Jim Barry the Florita Riesling, Clare Valley $180
6x Pikes The Merle Riesling, Clare Valley $300
12x Clos Clare Riesling, Clare Valley $324
12x Pikes Traditionale Riesling, Clare Valley $312
6x Jim Barry Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley $120
1x Henschke Hill of Grace, Eden Valley $865
1x Henschke Hill of Roses, Eden Valley $390
6x Henschke Julius Riesling, Eden Valley $312
4x Charteris Winter Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago $280
8x Charteris VanderMark Vineyard Chardonnay, Central Otago $400
6x Charteris The Hunt Vineyard Riesling, Central Otago $228
3x Maude Pinot Noir, Central Otago $126
2x Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir, Central OtagO $320
2x Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir, Central Otago $300
4x Felton Road Block 1 Riesling, Central Otago $240
2x Bell Hill Pinot Noir, North Canterbury $400
4x Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Pinot Noir, North Canterbury $260
6x Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills $294
2x Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills $250
1x House of Arras Vintage Blanc De Blancs, Tasmania $106
2x Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir, Tasmania $150