Langton's Classification VI

Langton’s Classification

The first of May was a notable day for the Australian Wine Industry. Firstly it saw the annual release of Penfolds Grange which is released on the first Thursday in May in each year and this year that happened to be 1 May. This year's Grange, from 2009, is not a standout like last year’s was and next year’s will be. The wine getting all the press this year is Penfolds St Henri which has been around as long as Grange and this year’s release scored 100 points.

Secondly, the new updated Langton’s Classification VI was released. This is the only serious classification of Australian wine. It has been done every 5 years and this is the sixth classification.

The most interest is always in the top tier, exceptional wines. In Classification VI the number of exceptional wines has increased by 4. The most notable to us was Jim Barry’s The Armagh from the Clare Valley. This is a long-time favourite of ours and it is great to see it get the recognition it deserves.

Also elevated to the top tier was Henschke’s Mt Edelstone Shiraz which joins its stable mate, Hill of Grace, and is another worthy promotion. The third was Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra. This wine has had a mixed history over the years but has become more consistent in recent times.

The fourth was Seppeltsfield 100 Year Old Para Vintage Tawny. The original Langton’s classification included fortified wines, but they were deleted as they weren’t part of the mainstream wine market. This year sees fortified wines and a sparkling wine returned to the classification. The 100 year old Tawny has a long reputation and is deserving of its accolades.

Overall the classification has increased from 123 wines to 139. This time no wines have been declassified off the list which makes one wonder if there is the same rigour applied as in past classifications.

A couple of wines return to the classification: Primo Estate Joseph, By Farr Sangreal, and Lake’s Folly Chardonnay.

To make it into the classification, there have to have been 10 vintages of the wine. Two wines which have been up to the appropriate standard but have had to wait out their time to be included are Penfolds Yattarna, white Grange, and John Duval Wines Plexus made by the former Grange winemaker.

Some of the notable new inclusions are Grosset Gaia from the Clare Valley, Glaetzer Amon Ra from the Barossa Valley, Noon Eclipse from McLarenvale and Langmeil The Freedom 1843, which is made from Australia’s oldest Shiraz vines planted in 1843.

Of course our all-time favourite among the new wines is Rockford’s Sparkling Black Shiraz, the only sparkling wine to be included.

This year’s classification sees the previous 4 categories condensed into 3 and there are any number of wines that have moved up and down between what are now the second and third tiers of the classification. For the great majority of wines it is very much status quo, and in this respect the new classification is not as interesting or as controversial as some of its predecessors.

If you want a guide to what to drink amongst Australia’s best wines it’s hard to do better than the Langton’s Classification.