Best Cellaring Wines Under $20

It’s not just reds that are suited to cellaring and you don’t need a cellar to lay down wines; you just need a room or garage where the temperature is relatively stable and doesn’t exceed 23 – 24 degrees. A perfect cellar or air-conditioning is not essential unless you’re laying down serious wines for the long term.

If your storage conditions aren’t perfect, keep the bottles in cardboard boxes. The best ones are those 6 or 12 bottle packs from up-market wineries with thick horizontal cardboard inserts or shells for individual bottles. Laying them down is not necessary with screw tops, but it makes it easier to identify leakers (yes, they happen because Stelvin caps can get damaged during freight and handling).

These days, most Australian wines are made for early drinking. That includes those big reds from McLaren Vale, the Barossa and Clare, most of the Margaret River and Coonawarra Cabernets, and the cheaper Hunter reds. Cellaring whites are easier to find, since many Rieslings, Semillons and some Chardonnays will improve for many years. So this is a start.

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1. Riesling

Leeuwin Art Series Riesling 2012 – $15 at Wineonline. Leeuwin Estate makes austere Rieslings of great purity, with pristine line and length. 3- 10 years.

6a0120a6399ca9970c017c36e2c2ba970bLeo Buring Dry Riesling Clare Valley 2013 – $15 at Kemenys. This is benchmark Riesling that shows wonderful restraint and tension, tremendous concentration and great length and purity. Enjoy for the next 10 years.

Mitchell Watervale Riesling 2013 – $18 at Kemenys. Superb, full-bodied Riesling made from 40-year old vines by one of Clare’s best winemakers: Andrew Mitchell. Now to 7 years.

Sons of Eden Freya Riesling 2013 – $19 at Kemenys. Made by Corey Ryan, one of the unsung heroes of the Barossa.Halliday gives this 96, and for once we agree: this Riesling is close to perfection now but will fill out over the next 5 – 7 years.

Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling 2012 – $24 at Jim’s Cellars. Always an interesting wine, and the 2012 is one of the best. More fruit and less austerity then usual, perfect balance.. 5- 12 years.

Tertini Riesling 2012 – $30 / $25 at the winery (Joining the Summit Club entitles you to 15% off). Superb Riesling from the Southern Highlands in NSW. A 2006 we tried recently was a great drink but still had a long way to go. I’d say 5 – 1o years at least.

2. Chardonnay

Evans & Tate Metricup Road Chardonnay 2013$16 at Winestar. Always good value, and usually needs 2 -5 years to show its best. The 2012 is still around but more forward, reflecting the hot year.

Tightrope Walker Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2012 – $17 at Winestar. Trophy & 5 golds, 93 points from Winefront and J Pringle. We haven’t tried it so the usual caveats apply, but the boys say drink now and over the next 4 years.

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2011- $20 at Wineonline. This is a bigger, more chunky Chardy than the Frogmore Creek below, but it’s slowly absorbing the oak and showing more rounded edges. Now to 5 years.

Frogmore Creek Chardonnay 2011 – $23 at MyCellars. One of the best Chardies we’ve tasted in years, stone fruit and cashews served up with real class and finesse. Anytime over the next 3 years.

Mountadam High Eden Chardonnay 2011 – $26 at Winelistaustralia. subtle wine, elegant, stylish and polished. Hints of stone fruit and cashews, very restrained. Anytime over the next 3 years.


2. Semillion

Tahbilk Marsanne 2013 – $11 at Kemenys. Unfashionable wine, silly price. This will be a winner after a decade in the cellar, offering honey and mead and more. 5 -10 years or more.

Tahbilk Marsanne 2009 $15 at Dan M’s. These underestimated wines just get better and better with age, like Hunter Semillons. This one has a head-start of 6 years, but will take another 10. 92 points from Winefront, 93 from us.

Brokenwood Semillon 2013 – $19 at 1st Choice. Haven’t tried this yet but gets 93 from Gary at the Winefront. It’s made from Hunter Valley fruit, and at 11% there shouldn’t be too many green apples. It should age gracefully for a decade or more.

The Thomas Wines Braemore Semillon 2012 is about the best young Hunter Semillon going, rated at 97 by JH, 96 by JP and 95 by the Winefront. You can buy it for $25 at Kemenys, and it will most likely improve for a decade or 2.

Tyrrells HVD Semillon 2007$24 at Kemenys. Classic. 4 trophies, 5 golds. Made from riper grapes then usual, which results in a richer, rounder, fuller Semillon style. Enjoyable now but will improve for 5- 7 years.

Peter Lehmann Margaret Semillon 2008$26 at MyCellars. Early-picked style of Semillon that will easily improve for another 10 years.

4. Cabernet

Hidden Label Reserve Langhorne Creek Cabernet Malbec 2010 $17 at Kemenys. This is Bleasdale Frank Potts 2010 Cabernet Malbec, big & rich and meaty, serious red that will improve over 10 years and more.

Evans & Tate Metricup Road Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2011 – $16 at Winestar. This is on the big side and needs 3-5 years to lose a few rough spots. 96 points from JH, 92 from us.

Teusner the Gentleman Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – $17 at Kemenys. This is my favourite red among all of Kym Teusner’s, lots of rich fruit and flavour but more finesse than his Barossa Shiraz reds. Will improve for a decade or more.

Woodlands Cabernet Merlot 2012$22 at Winestar. One of our favourites: classic Margaret River Cab Merlot from a great boutique at a great price. Plenty of flavour with real finesse (13.5). 54% Cabernet, 31% Merlot, 12% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot. Will improve for 3 – 5 years.

Forest Hill Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 – $24 at Winestar. These wines are real sleepers, combining tightly wound power with silky elegance. Very hard to get. 2011 was a top year over west. Will improve for 3 – 8 years.

O’Leary Walker Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – $20 at 1st Choice Big and well-built. Wonderful depth of dark berry fruit wrapped in a tight envelope of fine acid and tannins. Will improve for a decade or more.

Wynns Coonawarra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – $25 at WineSellersDirect. This is a terrific black label, better than the 2010 and 2011. It’s already drinking well but these reds are deceptive and improve for a decade or more.

Front Bench 2012 079

5. Shiraz

Hidden Label McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 – $13 at Kemenys This is Gemtree Uncut Shiraz under Hidden Label. Big, rich, ripe tour de force that will need years to settle down. The price is sharp but Kemenys throw in a bottle of Taittinger Champagne with every dozen ordered.

The outright winner of the 2013 VISY Great Australian Shiraz Challenge was Pepperjack Shiraz 2012, a commercial red made by Saltram (part of TWE) that sells for less than $20. It’s a bit raw and will repay 3- 6 years in the cellar. $19 at Dan M’s.

Murray Street Black Label Barossa Shiraz 2010 – $19 at Winestar. Barossa Shiraz in a dinner suit, ready to welcome those of you who like reds with finesse and polish. The superb balance will make this wine a joy to drink for the next 5-7 years.

Alpha Crucis Titan Shiraz 2010 – $24 at Kemenys. Terrific McLaren Vale Shiraz with the sledgehammer effect – perfectly balanced, full of flavour. will improve for a decade.

Gemtree Uncut Shiraz 2010 – $18 at Kemenys. From a top McLaren Vale winery run along bio-dynamic principles, from a top year. Rave reviews and plenty of bling, it reminds us of a bodybuilder squeezed into a business suit. will improve for at least a decade.

Tatiara Culled Barrel Shiraz 2012 – $20 at Nicks Vintage Direct. Monster red (15%) made by Ben Riggs from Heathcote fruit, not our style but a couple of subscribers have raved about this. 5-8 years, says Nick.

Mitchell Peppertree Shiraz 2010$22 at Kemenys. Great big rich Shiraz from Clare Valley that needs 3- 8 years to show its best.

Mount Pleasant Original Vineyard Rosehill Shiraz 2009 $27 at Kemenys. We’re not fans of Mt Pleasant wines but this wine gets 94 from JH, and 95 from Gary at the Winefront. Will grow old gracefully.

Tyrrell’s Steven’s Shiraz 2009 $29 at Kemenys. Classic Hunter red from a good year. 96 points from Halliday and Hooke. These reds tend to improve for a decade or more.


6. Other Reds and Blends

Chalk Hill Sidetrack 2010 – $15 at Kemenys. Shiraz Grenache. We liked the 2011 a lot but this is from a bigger, better year. Sharp price. Will improve for 3 -6 years.

Teusner The Independent 2012$18 at MyCellars. This is Shiraz and Mataro, 50/50, and we think it’s a better bet than the Riebke given 3 or 4 years in the cellar.

Hewitson Miss Harry 2012 – Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre with a few buckets of Carignan and Cinsault. I can’t do better than this description from The Fabulous Ladies Wine Society: Forget big Barossa reds. This is a slinky black dress, not a huge, taffeta filled ball gown. It’ll improve for 3- 6 years.

Thorn Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz Cabernet Petit Verdot 2010 – $16 at Kemenys. Trophy – Best Wine Under $20 – The Great Australian Red 2012. Robust red, needs 3 -5 years to knock a few rough spots off.

Leconfield Coonawarra Merlot 2012 – $19 at Kemenys. This is a winner and no simpleton like many Merlots. It has enough balls to improve over the next 3-5 years.

Captain Barossa AK Petit Verdot 2009 – $18 at the winery. Andy Kalleske’s interpretation of this variety is a dense, black-purple wine that mixes violets and blueberries with assorted herbs and spices. A fascinating food wine with a few good years ahead of it, and not too big at 14%.

When we tasted the Captain Barossa AK Durif 2009$18 at the winery, we described it as an extravagant dessert in a bottle – Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte mixed with plum compote, licorice allsorts and cherry-liqueur chocolates. The wine makes an impact on the senses not unlike Wagner’s Ring Cycle – you’ll either love it or hate it. Try this with a platter of smelly brie and blue cheeses with dried fruits and nuts in quince syrup. A red dessert wine at last. Yes, it’s dry on the finish. It’s a riot everywhere else. It will quite possibly live forever.

Tim Smith Mataro Grenache Shiraz 2012 – $22 at MyCellars. Hand-made by a small boutique maker in the Barossa from fruit grown on old vines. Fruit matched by herbs here, with more complexity than usual for this blend. Will improve for 5 years or so, great balance.

captain barossa

7. Sparkling and Dessert

Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV – $25 at Winestar . Our favourite Aussie bubbly at a great price, better than the cheap frog grog. Will improve for a year or 2. When you store NV wine, make sure to put a date sticker on the bottle before you store it.

Nautilus Methode Traditionnelle Brut – $25 at MyCellars. Great Kiwi sparkler. Champion wine of show (Air New Zealand 2013) and 97 points from Bob Campbell. Will mellow with a year or two in store.

De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon 375mL 2009 – $10.50 at Dan M’s. This is a little less rich than the 2008 but has more finesse and length, and will fill out over the next 5 years.

Chateau Du Cros Loupiac (375ml) 2005 – $22 at Nicks/ Vintage Direct. Loupiac lies between Cadillac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont just across the river from Sauternes and Barsac. Haven’t tried this but looks interesting, and Nick says it still has a few years of improvement ahead of it.