The 2020 Halliday Wine Companion is out »

After tasting 9,048 wines, the Halliday tasting panel has decreed the best

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<i>Halliday Wine Companion 2020</i> James Halliday

Halliday Wine Companion 2020 James Halliday [©James Halliday]


The highly anticipated 2020 Halliday Wine Companion was released at the Awards gathering in Melbourne in early August.

Halliday Wine Companion’s James Halliday and his tasting panel reviewed more than 9048 Australian wines over the past year and from these have included the tasting notes for 3943 wines as well as ratings, drink-to dates and prices for a further 3268 wines.

Winners of the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion Awards can be found here »

The book also provides an overview of the best of the best wines by variety, best wineries by region, varietal wine styles and regions, and a guide to food and wine pairing.

Highlights from the the Companion include:

Industry overview:

  • The 2018 vintage saw a decline in wine production with a total of 1.79m tonnes produced
  • The drought, a viticultural hazard, has had widespread effects with dry soils meaning low yield across the board
  • Crop shortfalls ranged between 20-80% except for Coonawarra and to a lesser degree Western Australian regions
  • Wine sales for the 2018 vintage are up 11% to $6.25b
  • Export values up 20% to $2.8b
  • Domestic exports up 6% to $3.5b
  • 2018 saw the highest export value growth rate in 15 years and records for export volume
  • 176 million litres of wine exported to China with a value of over $1b
  • The mechanical harvesters developed over the past 5-10 years are tailor-made for dealing with less than perfect fruit
  • Low yields tend to produce more intense flavours and structure
  • Chardonnay is becoming a more popular varietal as the way it is made has changed with a major focus on reducing the oak used in the fermentation and maturation of the wine
  • Prosecco is a wine that continues its rise in popularity with 6022 tonnes produced in the last vintage
  • Shiraz is the greatest varietal produced in Australia by volume and value of the traditional varieties and Barossa Valley is the champion of this
  • Shiraz has a 150-year history in Australia and is being widely adopted by the Chinese market for its full-bodied attributes
  • Food and wine pairings are not always red wine with meat, and white wine with seafood or chicken. Pairing recommendations include pinot noir with salmon, riesling with pork neck, chardonnay with brains and more

Around the country there highlights in each state:


  • Sparkling and pinot noir continue to be standouts for the state.
  • East Coast Tasmania and Southern Tasmania have produced especially excellent quality for chardonnay and pinot noir.


  • Bendigo crops down 30% though the quality for shiraz, merlot and cabernet sauvignon all looking good
  • Gippsland yields down but fruit quality at harvest very good, one of the best vintages for many years
  • Chardonnay and pinot noir remain standouts for the Yarra Valley
  • Mornington Peninsula also producing very good pinot noir
  • Shiraz is the standout for the Grampians
  • Glenrowan and Rutherglen producing great fortified wines as the heat not a problem for these regions
  • Nagambie Lakes should produce high-quality wines despite being the hottest summer on record.

New South Wales

  • 2019 marks the third consecutive great vintage for the Hunter Valley region
  • Mudgee producing great quality chardonnay and shiraz
  • Southern Highlands had a remarkably good growing season with early flavour development and no disease.

South Australia

  • In the Barossa Valley, 60% yield down on last year with vineyards full of tiny bunches with tiny berries, but great quality reds to come from this region
  • Shiraz and grenache leading the way for the Barossa Valley and Langhorne Creek regions
  • Coonawarra quality looks to be excellent, merlot, shiraz and cabernet are standouts.

Western Australia

  • Margaret River chardonnays outstanding
  • Great Southern region had to contend with birds, wasps and fruit bats, then dry conditions and then heavy bursts of rain causing berry splitting
  • Swan Valley producing superb fortified wines from pleasing conditions
  • Perth Hills quality very good to excellent, shiraz and viognier the standouts.


  • The Granite Belt felt the lash of hot growing conditions, yields 50% of normal with tiny berries with tempranillo, nero d’Avola and vermentino succeeding best
  • South Burnett had the best vintage for many years and better than any other region in 2019.


  • Warm and dry with some well-timed summer rain is the story of the Canberra District’s 2019 vintage, but the region suffered with yields down by 15–20%.
  • Shiraz of particularly good quality

The 2020 Halliday Wine Companion is published by Hardie Grant (Sydney, NSW; Aug 2019; Pb; 776pp; RRP A$39.99). It is available at all good bookshops nationally and can be purchases online via

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September 02nd, 2019
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