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Hugh Jarce
I am looking for the best Australian wine book that gives details on Vintage, ratings, retail price etc.

Any suggestions would be appreciated


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I have no doubt the best publication is Jeremy Oliver's "The On Wine Australian Wine Annual".
Check out your local Liquor Merchant or book store for it.

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Greg M
Agree with Jezza

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Hi all

Just thought I'd add my two cents worth, too.

I use a suite of different books including Halliday, Oliver, Robin Bradley's Gold Book and the Penguin Wine Guide. Sometimes I will find a wine that has been rated poorly in these books to be to my taste!

Fair enough! IMHO, enjoying wine is an exercise in personal taste, regardless of the science, ratings, marketing, show results etc. involved.

Therefore my advice is quite simple:

Buy a couple of different books by different authors (if you can afford it. If not, post questions on forums such as this).

Use these books as a guide (as they are intended), not as the be all and end all.

Most importantly, buy and drink wine that you enjoy regardless of how it is rated in the various guides.

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Sue Wridgepipe
Hugh, Definatley The Oxford Campanion to Wine.

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Jeremy Oliver's On Wine Australian Wine Annual 2000 is the clearest and most concise of all. Halliday's book are great too but you need to but spread across many books. For dtailed notes you access Jeremy's website at

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Current release 2000 edition. 2001 edition probably due out in 4 or 5 months. This book is my definitive buyers guide.


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Only problems with James Halliday's is there are many current wines missing and he does have strong commitments to Southcorp(Penfolds).
I like the independence of Jeremy Oliver's.

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I hope J.H. is not biased at least when it comes to wine tastings for review. If so then i would be really dissappointed!

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The Other Red Bigot(Ric Einstein
Two interesting points, both of which I will dispute. I actually have both Oliver's book and Halliday's CD (and book) and use both works extensively.

Both Oliver and Halliday editions hit the streets within weeks of each other so both should have about the same level of currency. So your comment that Oliver is "more up to date" is a bit hard to fathom. Is your comment based a gut feeling or have you actually examined many listings to compare if it is true or not.

I have compared many hundreds of wine entries between both authors and there are very few where either author is a vintage behind the other author.

Yes, you are correct, James Halliday does have a vested interest due to his association with South Corp. However that does not mean he is dishonest, inaccurate, on guilds the lily. From my perspective he is the most credible wine writer in the industry today. Based on the very little I know about the man, I would think that James reputation would be more important to himself than a small percentage of his income from South Corp.

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For ratings of past vintages, you can't beat Jeremy Oliver's book (The Online Wine...).
For a great description and RRP of the latest releases (relative to publication) you have Halliday's guide (v.good) or the Penguin Guide (good, lighter in tone).
I get Oliver's and Halliday's alternatly every couple of years... one of each every year is overkill.

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For ease sake what about this site, winepros, you can find any wine you like, well quite a lot and it looks as though James Halliday does most of the wine reviews. It seems to very upto date, as an internet site should be.

Plus they havbe some pretty good journalists writing for them, so you can read an article also.

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I stand fully(but not hiding)behind what I said
24 April 10.17am.
Oliver is independent- Halliday is not,through being beholdin' to a different drum (and cannot possibly be impartial in reviewing
some wines).Anybody who raves about the quality of the '95 Yattarna for example creates a big question-mark in my mind, particularly given his exposure to the wines of the world.A grain of salt comes into the equation unfortunately.

As far as the currency and comprehensive nature of the respective publications goes, I will refer to only the "B's" in James' publication (versus Oliver's) as an example;
Bannockburn- only a standard chardonnay review .
Bass Phillip- no reviews
Barossa Valley Estates-no current E&E review
Bests- only a "Thomsons" review
Bowen- only a "blend" reviewed
Brokenwood- no "Gravewood" review

Cheers Ric! (I trust this makes it to the forum!).

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The Other Red Bigot(Ric Einstein
Hi Geoff,

You are obviously not backward in coming forward in you opinions, I like that! We can and no doubt will have some differences of opinions, but that's life.

Let me state from the outset that I use both Oliver and Halliday works very regularly and buy both every year, so its not like I am knocking Oliver.

If I was James Halliday (and obviously I am not) and the worst thing that I did was to do a review of 95 Yatterna that you thought showed my bias towards Penfolds, I would think I was doing pretty well. But as I am not Halliday, so that's academic.

However what is not academic are the following facts.

Oliver current book has ratings and suggested best drinking dates for approximately 9000 wines.

Hallidays CD has REVIEWS, ratings and suggested best drinking dates for about 6000 wines. Certainly Olivers ratings start prior to Hallidays, but Halliday has as many, if not more DIFFERENT wines reviewed than Oliver (as distinct from number of wines with multiple older vintages.)

The B index you quoted may be correct in the Halliday Book, but if you have a look at the complete works on CD, you will find Bannockburn has reviews for Chardonnay, Pinot and Shiraz.

On the Halliday CD Bass Phillip has reviews for three wines and I wont mention Oliver reviews only two as I don't want to get into trading one for one.

To refute your next example, Barossa Valley Estate E & E, Halliday reviewed the 95 and Oliver had reviewed the 96, yes you are correct. But if you want a tit for tat which is pretty pointless, Halliday reviewed the 96 Chapel Hill Shiraz and Oliver missed it.

If you have a look at Bowen Estate, yes there may only be one reviewed in Hallidays Book, but there are three wines reviewed on the CD in detail.

And so it goes on. Yes, you are correct if you compare Hallidays Book to Olivers Book, there are more facts and figures in Olivers book. However Halliday has so much information it requires a CD.

As to the objectivity of Halliday, let his reputation speak for itself. You are obviously convinced he is biased due to his association with South Corp. Many other people are not. That's life, look forward to sparing with you again.


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Ric!-how are you, buddy?

I thought the YATTARNA example was a pretty valid one,being at the top of the Penfolds white tree.
Ric,you went to the "C's" (when "B's" were being discussed!!)
We were talking about the two BOOKS!

How about some input on CHABLIS QUESTION FOR DAVE

Cheers, Geoff

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The Other Red Bigot(Ric Einstein
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James Halliday
People will make what they will of the fact that, 25 years after I started writing about wine, Southcorp acquired Coldstream Hills by means of a takeover on the Stock Exchange. It was not a takeover which I initiated. My loyalty always has been and is to Coldstream Hills, and in fact have recently relinquished Group Winemaker responsibility for Devil's Lair and the Hunter Valley trio, and continue my role in Coldstream Hills as that of consultant.

That is really beside the point. I would defy anyone to perceive any difference in my comments about the wines of Penfolds made during the 25-year period in which I had no association with it, and the four-year period since the inception of that association.

As to the specific instance of '95 Yattarna, the history is this. At the 1997 Royal Sydney Wine Show, a Chardonnay stood out from all other wines in the show, winning a number of trophies including the trophy for Best Wine of Show. I was a judge at the show in question; Len Evans was chairman.
Immediately upon the conclusion of the show the Tucker Seabrook Caon Trophy brought together the chairmen of all of the wine shows in Australia; at the time I was chairman of both the Adelaide and National Wine Shows, and accordingly participated in the Tucker Seabrook Caon Trophy tasting. Once again, the Chardonnay swept the field. I vividly remember Len Evans and I saying to each other "this takes Chardonnay into another dimension. I/we have no idea who could have possibly made it, but whenever it is released, I/we will buy heaps of it."

It turned out to be '95 Yattarna; my only change of heart was to gracefully retire from my objective of buying heaps of it.

It is perfectly true that the '96 Yattarna is better than the '95, and the '97 in the same class as the '96, and possibly a whisker better. But, at the time of its release, only Leeuwin Estate (which remains in my view the greatest Australian Chardonnay) stood in the same league. (Petaluma Tiers was not then on the market, and one could go on for ever about the merits of wines such as Giaconda.)

I believe I am entitled to take mild exception to your innuendoes, but have always accepted that some readers will wish to draw the sort of conclusion that you have. Fortunately, most do not.

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Well,this has really stirred the possum-in fact the main possum on this site.Fair enough, James!

I'm still at odds with the '95 Yattarna rating
given the number of others clearly better than it.Anyhow,that's what the site's about- discussion.

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my $0.02 worth...

I really can't abide by Halliday and Oliver being compared to one another in terms of expertise. There isn't a fair basis for comparison. Rightfully or wrongfully Oliver would not get the opportunity to taste the wide (and diverse) range of local and foreign wines that Halliday does every year. What's more - Jeremy has only been about this a relatively short time! My *own* experience is that every year that goes by and every time I look back and review the last thousand wines tasted (now a few times a year rather than an annual event) I find I learn more - I see more exceptions, I see how wines ranked as young wines have evolved, etc etc (i.e. experience is an expensive tutor but a good one)
Experience counts a great deal. I also distrust people who can only put a simple rating next to a wine without telling you about it.
(I know this is a tangent - scores are only a numerical "shorthand" to be used as an addition to a good tasting note that tells you what the wine is like - what is good and what isn't about the wine (93.6points out of 100, or 7 stars, 3 goblets can never do this). Oliver doesn't use numbers as an aid to tasting notes - he uses them instead of tasting notes....

As to Yattarna - I think I would prefer to trust someone who has waded through tens of thousands of australian wines over the last deacade both through special tastings and shows and most importantly has the depth of experience in tasting the very best wines of the world (How many white burgundies have you tasted so far this year? How many as young wines and how many when too old or when gloriously mature?) Again my trust and faith would go with the old portly bald bloke.
I have tried Yattarna once and thought it a remarkable wine. I do believe that giaconda is trumps but that doesn't lessen the yattarna appeal or quality!

But this also comes from an element of closer knowledge of how hard it is to express views and how exciting it is when a wine stands out in a tasting as exceptional. I've been reading Halliday for 15+ years I guess? Do I bguy everythign he says to? No. But I know his palate better because I have read so much of his stuff and also that of those who went before him (Get a copy of Evans book which is a compilation of his best articles when writing under the nom de plume of the Cellarmaster for the Bulletin. Has a picture of a thirties somethign bloke that looks a bit like him in the front and the writing style, integrity of description and dry wit are very akin to Halliday in full flight! [these were written in the 60's!])

I always think the easiest way to prove someone wrong (like James) is to do it better than them - my advice is for you to start writing and voiceing your opinions on wines as often as you can and as widely as you can. You'll see how easy it is!

ps no offence meant re: old, bald, portly ;-)

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The Other Red Bigot(Ric Einstein

As per normal you have done a great job of presenting a complete and balanced picture. Re your comment "old bald and portly" and the good advice to try a few thousand more bottles, I am drinking as fast as I can. So now all I need now is a few more years to qualify. (grin)

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Justice should not only be done, but be seen to be old legal adage often applied to positions of conflict of interest

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Hey Hugh Jarce,

Use you real name or are you just taking the piss out of people.

Or are you just a Hugh Dick (head)


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From my experience, Halliday is regarded highly both domestically and internationally, and is clearly Australia's premier wine writer in the eyes oversea's wine authors ie refer the American published "Wine Almanac" (I believe that is its name)

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Halliday is the best, no doubt about that. Get down to the average wine appreciators views and tastes regarding wine and no doubt Halliday's ability to convey in written text is second to none that I have come across.

I think James sums it up best in his response to his critic dated 3/5/00.

As someone summed it up previously on the winepros chat line "fine times and tastings" James!


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Wez Mihair
I'd have to agree with Sue. I found The Oxford Companion to Wine to be both informative and easy to read.


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