What characterises wines I enjoy?

Truly excellent wines are fully representative of their region, variety and maker; wines of pedigree, balance and harmony. They sing with a kind of rightness; an effortless, natural symmetry. Typically scoring over 95 points, they are the best of their breed, with great distinction, a certain thrill factor - sometimes even uniqueness. Think...

2008 Giaconda Chardonnay

Rich colour: full buttercup yellow. The bouquet is subtle but complex: nutty, sur-lie and toasty-barrel notes, with slight char, rubber, toast and chicken-stock characters reflecting well-managed sulphides and significant oak influence. There's a lot happening in this wine. Palate is even more impressive: it has amazing depth and concentration, density, fleshiness and weight, without sacrificing finesse or subtlety. Powerful and long, it keeps giving more, with incredible depth and a seemingly endless finish.

1999 Arras E.J. Carr Late Disgorged Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut

The 1998 debut vintage of this wine is superb, but this is even better - it's a stunner! With a remarkably light lemony color, it is very fresh but at the same time, tremendously complex. Its lightly toasted bread aromas have a yeasty fresh-baked overtone. Very concentrated flavour and superbly balanced, it stands on equal footing with deluxe cuvee Champagnes. Great intensity and length. A deceptively powerful wine because it's so fresh and light on its feet. Probably the best sparkling wine yet made in Australia.

2004 Penfolds Grange

Fabulous colour: very deep purple red, dense and rich and bright. Great bouquet of floral aromas; anise and violets,fresh and powerful, very intense and fragrant. Lush flavour floods the palate: a deliciously fruity wine, not overly tannic at all (unlike the young Granges of 20 years ago) but with stunning early appeal, drinkability and balance. A beautiful modern-style Grange, which will drink well for another 25-plus years.

2005 Tyrrells Belford Single Vineyard Semillon

Youthful light-medium yellow. Dry chalky, lemony and sandy-loam earth-scented aromas, very pure and very minerally. Palate is great: very fine and lengthened by high but balanced acidity. Soft and refined and very linear, it also has elements of richness and generosity in its flavour and structure. A great semillon built around wonderful acidity.