Australian Wine Companion 2015 edition by James Halliday »

The definitive guide to Australian wine

By Laura McKinnon
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James Halliday Wine Companion 2015

James Halliday Wine Companion 2015


Eagerly awaited by winemakers, collectors and wine lovers alike the James Halliday annual Australian Wine Companion is recognised nationally as the definitive guide to the wines and wineries of Australia. The 2015 edition has proven no exception to this description and has been totally revised to bring you up-to-date information.

In this latest edition, Halliday includes full tasting notes for an impressive 3796 wines but only after he has given a brief introduction and instructions on how to use the book in order to get the most out of it. [Ed: this year, he has been ably assisted by wine critic and author Campbell Mattinson, with former assistant Ben Edwards moving to follow other pursuits].

This is followed firstly by the highly anticipated awards of Winery of the Year and Wine of the Year, and new to 2015 the Winemaker of the Year and Best Value Winery of the Year.

  • Boutique Barossan winery Hentley Farm Wines took out the coveted Winery of the Year,
  • Western Australian Robert Diletti (of Castle Rock Estate) the Winemaker of the Year,
  • The 2011 Xanadu Stevens Road Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon won Wine of the Year, and
  • Victoria's Hoddles Creek Estate won Best Value Winery.

Each award comes with a full page description of why they deserve the honour, and I am sure as you read these pages you will agree with Halliday's conclusions.

What comes next is the most used section of this book in my house, the best of the best by variety section.

Its usefulness can best be demonstrated when you are choosing a bottle of wine to suit your mood or perhaps your dinner. You know riesling will be a perfect match but how do you decide which one to purchase? You could look up a winery that you know has offered a good riesling in the past – or you can simply go to the best of the best by variety section, look up riesling and find at least twenty that Halliday has scored 96 or above.

If you are touring a wine region the best wineries of the regions lists is where you should start.

Here you will find the wineries which have demonstrated a track record of excellence or have performed exceptionally this year and have the potential to repeat this performance. I was heartened to see my local wine region the Mornington Peninsula feature more than 30 wineries, and mention it here as it will be my new starting point when recommending wineries to visitors.

Looking to step out of your comfort zone and try something new?  Then the ten of the best new wineries are for you.

Here you will find a brief description of ten newcomers who have earned a 5 star rating in their debut appearance in the Australian Wine Companion. Or if you prefer a winery that has a history in the industry but is just now obtaining a 5 star rating, the ten dark horses will be for you.

The opening chapters of the Australian Wine Companion finish with an index of the Australian geographical indications, information on varietal styles and regions, vintage snapshots and the author's acknowledgements. 

The main body of this book as you would expect is made up of the detailed descriptions and tasting notes of the 1396 wineries including 94 new wineries. In alphabetical order each winery entry includes the winery name, star rating, contact details, region, opening details, winemaker, as well as technical information such as size and quantities produced.

Below this you will the top ranked tasting notes from the winery. In 2015 James Halliday has opted to cap the number of tasting notes included in order to avoid making an already large book even chunkier. To ensure readers do not miss out on tasting notes of other potentially amazing wines a small glass icon on the listing indicates that more tasting notes are available for that winery on the Wine Companion website.

Overall the 2015 Australian Wine Companion is an essential reference from the country’s leading wine authority and a must-have guide for anyone visiting a wine growing region, or wanting to replenish their cellar or wine rack. A great stocking filler for a wine lover at Christmas!

The 2015 Australian Wine Companion is published in Australia by Hardie Grant Books (Melbourne, 2014; sc, 776pp) and retails in Australia for $39.95

The 2015 Australian Wine Companion is available to purchase online via Booko here »


  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)

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December 02nd, 2014
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