Australian wine releases through La Place for the first time

This week marked the start of the autumnal New World wine releases through La Place de Bordeaux, with the 2018 vintages of Almaviva and Sena. The Chilean wineries were amongst the first to engage with the prestigious distribution network, once exclusive to Bordeaux estates and their annual En Primeur spring release. Today La Place is increasingly embracing the top wines of the world: three Australian fine wines being the latest to join the network.

For the first time, Wynns, John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Jim Barry The Armagh 2016 and ​Cloudburst, Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 will be launched through La Place (The Armagh was released on Wednesday). The former two brands also feature in Langton’s Classification, which ranks Australia’s finest into “exceptional”, “outstanding” and “excellent” and is currently in its seventh edition.

Wynns, John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 received 95 points from James Suckling, who described it as “a very impressive and regal cabernet”. According to Andrew Caillard MW, “The history of Coonawarra and the imagineering of Wynn’s John Riddoch epitomise the essence of Australia’s fine wine ambitions where terroir, technology and individuality all collide to bring something of great value and importance to the world of wine”.

Jim Barry The Armagh 2016, released on Wednesday at £1,800 per case, also met similarly positive critical reception. Suckling, who gave it 99 points, pronounced it “one of the finest releases to date”. In his tasting note, the critic adds that this is “a bold, brassy shiraz that carries a wealth of very intense aromas of ripe blackberries, dark plums, licorice and sweetly spiced earth”. The wine also achieved 97 points from The Wine Advocate’s Joe Czerwinski who said the 2016 Armagh had “a wonderful taut tension between ripeness and acidity”.

Cloudburst, Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, of which only 3000 bottles were made, entirely from organically grown grapes, was given 95 points from Suckling. Czerwinski rated it 92+ points and noted that “this should steadily gain interest over the next several years and drink well through 2035”.

All three brands have seen activity on the secondary market, with Australian wine generally picking up steam. Over the past eight months, Australia’s market share by value (1.9%) has surpassed that of the entire 2019. The number of distinct wines trading (LWIN11) has risen 66% over the past three years. The number of wines (LWIN7) is also up 80% since 2017, as seen in the chart above.

The diversification of the fine wine market does not stop with new names joining La Place. It is evident in secondary market trades and the expanding taste of buyers looking for quality and value – often beyond Bordeaux.