Following the Australian rugby team’s humbling at the hands of the Welsh, it was a brave host at London’s Australia House last night that opened the door to Welsh ‘boi’ Roger Jones, still wearing his colours and a Cheshire cat-like grin from ear to ear – having hot-footed it from Lyon straight to the launch of Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines. This is one of Jones’ favourite nights of the year (when the Welsh aren’t playing) and here he explains why – picking out Jukes’ ability to award bouquets to entry level wines as much as ultra-premium.
“290 different wineries have appeared in Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines reports since its inception, and this year there are 13 making their first appearance,” writes Jones.
This is Matthew Jukes’ eighteenth launch of his 100 Best Australian Wines Report. For those in the know it is not merely a listing of Australia’s top 100 wines but an in-depth report on each of his chosen wines with further recommendations on their siblings within each winery. Hence, for example, where he highlights the 2020 Torbreck, The Descendant, Barossa Valley £90 in his top 100, he then lists seven other wines from this winery with comprehensive notes on each. In total the report covers 225 wines.
This report, which is free, is an unbelievable document that gives unparalleled wine notes, descriptions and information that is a godsend to any keen wine lover. Invitation to the launch party is by invitation only, with over 350 attending Tuesday night’s launch at Australia House.
The High Commissioner of Australia, The Hon Stephen Smith, opened the proceedings highlighting Jukes’ importance to the Australian wine industry, and was also delighted to say that the new UK/Australia free trade agreement was a huge benefit for Australian exports into the UK.
The room was packed with high profile Australians from Robert Hill-Smith, Murray McHenry, Larry Cherubino to the Hon. David Ridgway, Agent General for South Australia and, of course, the afore mentioned High Commissioner.
Every year Jukes has a roadshow which is growing in 2023 to new heights with bigger venues and spreading the great Australian wine gift to even more of the British public.
So who were the top players this year?
Top of the Pops goes to Larry Cherubino, winning Winery of The Year, with 11 wines featured in the report, with a further three listed under the Robert Oakley brand that Larry consults for. I have known Cherubino for many years, and have seen his empire grow from humble beginnings in the Great Southern to being recognized as a world class winemaker. Whether it is his Laissez Faire, a classic Northern Italian style, (blending Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Gris), or his superlative Chardonnay (listed below). The Laissez Faire has a beautiful balance combining fresh bright fruit notes with a zingy freshness, textured and vibrant.
290 different wineries have appeared in Jukes’ reports since its inception, and this year there are 13 making their first appearance; including Levrier Wines by Jo Irvine, a 100% Merlot, packed full of silky polished fruit, with a fabulously perfumed nose, leading to a beautiful palate. Only three wineries have appeared in every report and they are: Penfolds, Tyrrell’s and Yalumba, although Jukes also highlights the top 40 wineries of the last 18 years.
What Jukes is good at is not only finding the super premium, superstar wines but finding bargains, such as the 2019 Majella, The Musician Cabernet/Shiraz, Coonawarra from £14 a bottle, a delicious savoury, spiced black-fruited wine with a chunky excellence.
The highlight for me, though, was the sheer array and different styles of Chardonnay on show (over 17), from the 2023 Oxford Landing Chardonnay at £7 a bottle to Penfolds Yattarna Bin 144 Chardonnay at £147, whilst not forgetting the absolutely stunning 2020 Cherubino, Ovale, GinGin Chardonnay, Willows Vineyard, Wilyabrup, Margaret River at £35, if you want to find out why Larry Cherubino lifted the best winery award, look no further than this pure ‘Grand Cru’ worthy Chardonnay.
Thank you again Matthew Jukes for the invitation, and if you were not one of the lucky guests invited you can go online www.matthewjukes.com and get a digital download.