Langtons today released their sixth incarnation of their classification of Australian wines. The last classification was only four years ago, in 2010. This time around, the re-jig is largely a good news affair. More wines have been included (139 wines are now classified, up from 123 classified in 2010), no wines have been declassified and the four categories of “exceptional”, “outstanding”, “excellent” and “distinguished” categories have given way to three, with the lowest “distinguished” category being jettisoned.
As per previous years, eligibility for inclusion appears based on secondary market performance and a minimum of 10 vintages. Langtons say:
“The two basic requirements for inclusion in the Classification are that a wine has been made for a minimum of 10 vintages and that it has a track record in the secondary market. Eligibility rests on how well a wine performs in an open market – the volume of demand it attracts and the prices it realises. Ultimately, the reputation of a wine is based on its auction pedigree – the record it builds up, over time.”
In my opinion, it’s hard not to be just a little bit cynical of a re-classification that heads only in one direction. Nonetheless, it is still probably the best and most watched classification we have in Australia regarding the secondary market performance and reputation of Australian wine.
|An earlier wine buying guide. The glasses are not included.|
Below is a snapshot of Langtons’ changes. There was some effort involved here in putting this together as the Langtons website, well to put it politely, has undergone some changes. If there are any errors or misses, please chime in.
New to Exceptional (and the classification)
Seppeltsfield Para Tawny
Upgraded from Outstanding to Exceptional
Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz
Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz
Wynns Coonwarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon
With 21 wines now making the grade as Exceptional, while there could be few quibbles with the quality of the wines listed, there continues I think to be room to argue that some wines in the exceptional category are more equal than others. Perhaps a new Chairman’s Lounge category is required.
New to Oustanding (and the classification)
Chambers Rare Muscat
Chambers Rare Muscadelle
Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay
Rockford Black Shiraz
Upgraded from Excellent to Outstanding
Bannockburn Serré Pinot Noir
Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir
Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon
Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon
Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon
Houghton Jack Mann Cabernet
Main Ridge Estate Half Acre Pinot Noir
Noon Reserve Cabernet
Paringa Estate The Paringa Single Vineyard Pinot Noir
Peter Lehmann Stonewall Shiraz
Seppelt St Peters Shiraz
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Blend
There are few, if any, surprises on quality grounds on this list. Still, there’s a lot of upgrading going on.
In what must be a rather bad day for this winery, the sole downgrade of the entire classification appears to be Hardy’s Eileen Hardy Shiraz, which was downgraded from Outstanding to Excellent as far as I can tell.
New to Excellent (and the classification)
Sangreal by Farr
Seppeltsfield Para Liqueur
Grosset Gaia Cabernet Sauvignon
Hanschke Keyneton Euphonium
John Duval Plexus Grenache Mourvedre
Kalleske Old Vine Shiraz
Lakes Folly Chardonnay
Langmeil The Freedom Shiraz
Noon Eclipse Grenache Blend
Joseph Primo Estate
The entire previous list of Distinguished wines has moved up to the Excellent category, thus completing the release.
While it’s great to see so much Australian wine recognised, more generally, I think the classification would benefit from a cap on the overall number of wines in the classification and possibly within categories to put some more tension into the categories going forward.
Note: the original post was updated on 7 May 2014