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By Alex Russell Instagram @ozwineguy on July 13, 2017 in Food

Vanya Cullen has been winemaking at her family’s Wilyabrup estate since 1983. Photo: Alex Russell

Most wineries have wines that they produce every year, or at least in years when the fruit is good enough. Go to Yalumba, for example, and you’ll find a release of ‘The Signature’ each year. These are wines that you can rely on for a decent drink year in, year out.

Some of these producers push out interesting new labels every now and then to expand their range, or to try something new, even if they only ever reach their mailing list and don’t make it into retail stores.

It wasn’t long ago that any Australian wine over $100 was a tough sell (with a couple of obvious exceptions). Of course, we already have Grange, Hill of Grace, Torbreck’s ‘The Laird’, and others going for $700-plus, but recently there have been a few new and very interesting top shelf wines coming from our best producers, and some of these have had pretty extreme price tags attached to them, too.

Yering Station ‘Scarlett’

The ‘Scarlett’ Pinot Noir was first released in 2013, and picked up 97 points from Halliday. Named after their technical viticulturist (Nathan Scarlett – 1975-2013), this wine celebrates his legacy of precision viticulture using some pretty fancy technology, and is made from very special batches of Pinot grapes.

They’ve recently released the 2015 vintage. 2015 was a stellar year in the Yarra. For $250, not many of us will get to try this, but this is one of the those wines that goes in the cellar and you bring out in 10 or so years for a special occasion.

Yalumba ‘The Caley’
Yalumba has always been a personal favourite of mine. Their top shelf drop used to be ‘The Octavius’ Shiraz. They have now one-upped themselves with ‘The Caley’, a blend of Coonawarra Cabernet and Barossa Shiraz.

The 2012 vintage is priced at $350 per bottle, and is expected to last 30 years. With 98 points from Halliday, it’s been on the receiving end of some pretty high praise.

Cullen ‘Vanya’ (and the fancy Chards)
Vanya Cullen already makes one of Australia’s most celebrated reds – the ‘Diana Madeline’ Cabernet – but the 2012 vintage offered an opportunity to make something very special. She released a new top-tier Cabernet, called Vanya, and priced it at $350.

Is it worth it? I can’t say I managed to get a bottle of it, as only 388 dozen were made, but 99 points from Halliday kind of speaks for itself, and every other wine reviewer I’ve read has given similar accolades to it.

She’s also been making some pretty interesting variations on her top-shelf Chardonnay, like the ‘Flower Day’, ‘Flower Barrel’ and ‘Fruit Barrel’. These are all around $250 per bottle, so only the serious need apply.

These wines have hefty price tags attached to them and won’t be in reach of most people. And all need some time in the cellar, so perhaps it’s best not to crack them open if you do get your hands on them any time soon. But by jingo it’s nice to dream, isn’t it?