10 Unforgettable Australian Wines Under $100 To Send With Congratulations To The New NSW Premier

It was good news for NSW government lobbyists today when Manly MP Mike Baird was elected Liberal Party leader and the next Premier.

Baird was born in 1969 and a bottle of his birth-year Grange will set them back $900, a saving of $2100 on the 1959 sent to ex-premier Barry O’Farrell.

But Business Insider would like to recommend a range of cost-effective alternatives for anyone keen to curry favour with the new boss of NSW.

After this week’s bruising ICAC experience, you’ll be wasting your time anyway, but when you don’t win that lucrative public-private partnership with government, at least you’ll be able to drown your sorrows in style.

Here are 10 wines you won’t forget.

Capital Wines ‘The Backbencher’ Merlot


Canberra winery Capital Wines‘ wonderful Ministry series pays homage to politics with a range of $20+ wines with titles such as The Foreign Minister (a sangiovese), The Whip (riesling), The Abstainer (rose) and The Frontbencher (shiraz)

Our pick would be the 2011 The Backbencher, made with merlot, a rarely seen red varietal that’s used in some of the greatest Bordeaux wines.

The tasting notes say: a young wine it will benefit from decanting. It displays a rich spectrum of plum and spiced berry fruits.

2011 Penfolds Bin 389


Nicknamed ‘Baby Grange’ or ‘Poor Man’s Grange’ because parts of the wine are matured in barrels from the previous vintage of Grange, as well as new American oak, this multi-regional shiraz-cabernet blend (it’s roughly 50-50, but this vintage cabernet wins the two-party vote with 51%) is around one-tenth of the price of Grange, but it’s still a very classy wine, released four years after vintage.

You get plenty of big meaty shiraz flavour, softened by the classy cabernet notes. It’s a wine that says you care, but you’re not going to waste taxpayer’s funds.

Serve with the party whip ripping into backbenchers.

Cullen 2011 Diana Madeline


OK, so we just blew the budget. Blame poor advice from Treasury. But you’ll thank us later. Vanya Cullen, a brilliant Margaret River biodynamic winemaker, named this Bordeaux blend – 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot for all you grapespotters – in honour of her mother and as you can imagine, it’s worthy of the tribute. Expect lots of cassis, chocolate and aniseed on the nose. Then cassis, plum and cherry flavours. It’s a wine to put down for 30 years, then open when the cabinet papers from your former government are released.

Tyrrell’s 2010 Vat 8 Hunter Shiraz Cabernet



A classic claret blend from Hunter Valley wine-making royalty, the fifth generation Tyrrell family.

It’s rated at 93 points, which is better polling than the ’59 Grange, and described as vibrant purple with bright red fruits, spice and a touch of chocolate on the nose, plus dark berry fruit flavours and fresh spicy vanillin oak. It’s a medium weight red that’s smooth and silky, a bit like when you’re first elected to the leadership. It will reward medium-term cellaring, so it’s perfect to pop in the linen cupboard until you have to resign or find yourself knifed by cabinet colleagues.

2010 Lowe Zinfandel


You could call Mudgee winemaker David Lowe the deputy premier of NSW Wine. He’s VP of the NSW Wine Industry Association (and former President), as well as VP of the Winemakers’ Federation Australia, have begun his career nearly 40 years ago at Rothbury Estate. Zinfandel is an unusual red variety with an American pedigree and this dry-grown organic wine is matured in American oak for nearly two years.

The 2009 Zinfandel was named Wine of the Show at the 2011 Australia/NZ Organic Wine Show.

Wine critic Peter Bourne says this of the Lowe Wines 2010: “a tad finer than its predecessor, with dense bitter chocolate and damson plum flavours. and Zin’s trademark Christmas cake spice. Lush and mouth-filling, the brusque tannins suit a venison pie.”

2012 Clonakilla shiraz-viognier


Another cult wine, which is hard to get and is also regarded as iconic, from Tim Kirk, the 2013 winemaker of the year.

It’s a NSW wine, from Murrumbateman, 40km north of Canberra. A blend of red and white grapes in the French Rhone style it’s a knockout drop that’s even bigger than the Liberal vote in 2011 and scored 97 points from James Halliday.

Very fragrant on the nose, thanks to the apricot notes from the viognier, which also gives the shiraz a warm sweetness, it’s full of spices, white pepper and cherry, with lovely tannins, and will easily last for 20 years.

Drink with game, so it’s good for the next time you need to get legislation past the Fishers and Shooters Party.

2012 Oakridge 864 Single Block Pinot Noir



Oakridge in the upper Yarra Valley, produces a range of premium single vineyard wines, but this pinot has wowed the critics far and wide, so next time you’re telling an inquiry you don’t know much about wine, at least you can say those in-the-know think it’s pretty good.

It’s full of bold pinot flavours: black cherry and plum, with sweet spices and both herbiness and funky, meaty flavours that give it barnyard qualities.

De Bortoli 2010 Noble One


Darren De Bortoli first produced this dessert wine in 1982 and it’s now regarded as an iconic Australian “sticky”.

Made in the Riverina at Bilbul, the De Bortoli family HQ, near Griffith, using botrytised Semillon fruit (botrytis is a fungus, also known as “noble rot”, which concentrates the sugars).

There’s cumquat and marmalade, plus almond and vanilla on the nose, with a palate of citrus, butterscotch and vanillin oak, the rich sweetness balanced by acidity. Enjoy it with stilton cheese, pear and almond tart, or Adrian Piccoli, The Nationals MP for the area.

It turns a wonderful tan colour as it ages and will age for decades.

David Franz Old Redemption Exceptionally Old Tawny

$39, 500ml


Barossa winemaker David Lehmann’s David Franz Wines produces a bunch of quirky wines, but this fortified port-style would come in handy by the despatch box for all those late night ramming-through-the-legislation sessions.

Made from a mix of grapes, including Shiraz, Dolcetto, Grenache and Pedro, using old soleras dating back to 1947, it has a smoky, toffee nose, but we think David describes it best: “Initial syrupy silky rich mouth feel is turned into a fiery delight of hot chilli like pepper fire and cleansing spirit.

“Like an XO cognac the angels dance of pure fire stipples the tongue with heady sweet oak that persists for around the same time that it takes to put the kids through college.

“The concentrated raisin sweetness fills and caresses the mouth before opening lotus like to layer upon layer of spicy complexity finishing with cigar box memories.”

2011 Rockford Black sparkling shiraz


This Barossa Valley cult wine is hard to get a hold of, so you might have to send your secretary over to South Australia for the weekend to pick up a bottle, since it’s only generally available at cellar door, in very low volumes. It’s a multi-vintage blend. so all the cabinet can celebrate their birthdays with it (the date on the bottle is when it was disgorged). Expect complexity with dark cherries, berries and smoky chocolate notes.