From L to R: Tyrrell’s HVD Semillon (2017), R D’meure Chardonnay Tamar Valley (2021), Sorrenberg Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (2023), Tahbilk 1927 Marsanne (2016) and Eastern Peake ‘Intrinsic’ Chardonnay (2021).

OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS, I’ve been hunting around for the best value white wines I could find. I was seeking out bottles that would stand up—or overshadow—wines of a similar price point from our gilded competitors in Europe, such as France and Italy.

Australia’s history of white wine stretches back a long way to 1832 when James Busby, who is commonly regarded as the father of the Australian wine industry, brought Chardonnay vines back from Europe. But white wines (and in particular, chardonnays) weren’t taken seriously in Australia until the 1980s and ’90s, when it was decided that ripe, tropical fruit flavours with buttery textures were ‘in’. This sent the market into a frenzy, with high production rates ultimately conjuring a crowded house of mass-produced, overly ripe and buttery chardonnays that ultimately spoiled the white’s reputation. 

In light of Australia’s first 100 point score in The Wine Advocate, for Giaconda’s 2022 Estate Chardonnay, the international winemaking community is looking up to Australia again; while many abandoned their white vines for more discerning reds, there were some who persevered, consistently pulling together wines from old vines that told the story of their patch with elegance and gusto—all without bursting the seams of our hip pocket.

After visiting a collection of wine stores and vineyards in search of Australia’s best value whites, I realised we’re pretty spoilt for choice. Here are my findings. 


Tyrrell’s HVD Semillon (2017) 

Two words: high drama. Tyrrell’s HVD Semillon is made from vines planted in 1908, and according to the winery, the 2017 vintage produced near perfect fruit resulting in a fine-boned, angular wine that teases orange oil, white flowers and gunflint. I paired my bottle with Jessye Norman’s Corsican chicken recipe. It went down a treat. 

$45 from Tyrrell’s.


Cobaw Ridge Chardonnay (2022)

Cobaw Ridge’s Chardonnay speaks volumes about the ascension of cool-climate central Victorian white wines; it’s an austere drop with wet stones that drive home an unctuous bouquet of honeysuckle and white flowers. I paired my bottle with buttered sourdough and a tin of Olasagasti anchovies. Like stone skipping by moonlight.

$103 from Blackhearts & Sparrows.


Sorrenberg Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (2023)

You dropped this…(insert crown emoji). Sorrenberg offers some of the most anticipated white wines every year, and although the chardonnay receives much of the fanfare I fell head over heels for the Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. The wine offers up a bouquet of citrus and currant leaves, every guzzle is a rush of baked apple and pastry ironed out with crisp freshness. I downed my bottle with duck terrine and an onion focaccia. 

$60 from Cloudwine.


R D’meure Chardonnay Tamar Valley (2021)

A love letter to the Jura. The D’Meure wines have a loyal underground following for producing natural wines, with the whites echoing the style of chardonnay from the Jura, a renowned wine region in France. The gold hued wine is an elegant tapestry of toasted almonds, lemon sorbet and dried apricot with a saline finish. It won’t disappoint.

$72 from Act of Wine.


Tahbilk 1927 Marsanne (2016)

Jacques Brel in an Aussie accent. As the name hints, some of the oldest Marsanne vines in the world with surviving vines dating back to 1927. The wine is a rapture; layers of complexity framed by beeswax and acacia, with an undercurrent that drifts between ginger and quince. The perfect accompaniment to a plate of creamy garlic mussels with. 

$45 from Tahbilk.


Giaconda Nantua Chardonnay (2022)

Gold-mining in a tuxedo. Giaconda’s Nantua is possessed by the ghost of the gilded 100 point Estate Chardonnay, at a fraction of the price, just a touch leaner and racier with hints of lemon zest and citrus altogether encased in hazelnut smoke. It bodes well with steamed barramundi stuffed with lemon myrtle and ginger. 

$90 from Summer Hill Wine Shop.


Jasper Hill ‘Georgia’s Paddock’ Riesling (2023)

Purity! There’s something haunting and sensual about these Jasper Hill wines that keep me hooked; white flowers and oyster shell magic. Mount Buninyong Mist cheese from Goldfields Farmhouse tasted even better when paired with this. 

$43 from Jasper Hill Vineyard.


Eastern Peake ‘Intrinsic’ Chardonnay (2021) 

With the atmosphere of a Frederick McCubbin painting, Owen Latta has delivered a thought provoking chardonnay, backed by quantum agriculture and biodynamic principles. There’s a line of saline minerality running through its rich veins. Delicious when enjoyed with a roast chicken sandwich. 

$80 from Winespeake.


Stoney Rise Savagnin (2022)

Stoney Rise never pulls its punches. Joe Holyman produces some of my favourite wines in Tasmania, so his take on the revered Jura classic is worth hunting out as it offers a sea-sprayed reflection of place that’s much closer to home. The wine is angular and fresh, presenting a medley of wet stones and white flowers. I paired mine with a slice of comté cheese.

$40 from Best Cellars.


Dr Edge Chardonnay (2023)

Tasmanian techno. So much tension and precision here from winemaker Peter Dredge, which unwinds with scents of crushed red gravel until it’s thrown down the hatch to reveal pale straw and lemon notes dancing with overtures of citrus and river stones. I paired it with smiths crinkle cut salted chips. Why overcomplicate it. 

$60 from Dr Edge Wines.

Mahmood Fazal is a Walkley award-winning investigative reporter. On the outskirts of his crime writing, Mahmood is currently compiling a book about wine. It is an extension of his Instagram page semiautomaticwine — where he experiments with journalism, automatic writing and poetry to demonstrate the meaning of his favourite wines.


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