Rick Kinzbrunner, winemaker at Giaconda Vineyard, Beechworth. Photo: NEIL NEWITT
Best new winery
Taras Ochota has shown an amazing ability to learn and observe, then create and interpret opportunities to buy quality parcels of grapes, and to conceive and craft great wine with a unique flair and innate intuitive gift. It is a rare talent and the wines he makes are as inspiring as they are impressive.
Wine of the year and best chardonnay
2010 Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay $125
The master Rick Kinzbrunner has demonstrated his virtually untouchable form at the top of Australian chardonnay after strong challengers have emerged in recent years from all sides of the country. This wine is symphonic, powerful and beautifully poised - a class act.
Best-value sparkling wine
2011 Brown Brothers Limited Release Prosecco $23
This popular category is led by a wine that makes the elegant, approachable and easy-drinking side of prosecco that much more refined. Finesse is the key.
Best-value red wine
2009 d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache $19
D'Arenberg is celebrating its 100th birthday in style, with the traditional red blend that bears octogenarian d'Arry's name looking dangerously good. This has depth, balance and fleshy appeal, and will age as gracefully as the man himself.
Best-value white wine
2012 Knappstein Hand Picked Riesling $19
One of many standouts of the 2012 Clare Valley vintage, this offers an opportunity for wine drinkers to delve into the beauty of a riesling with depth, length and unashamedly delicious fruit appeal.
Best vintage sparkling wine
2001 Arras Blanc de Blancs $80
A staggering wine for the complexity and finesse it manages to fuse with power and intensity. The Champagnemakers ought to be nervous, as this is a world-beating Australian sparkling.
2012 Kilikanoon Mort's Reserve Riesling $35
In a vintage with many great Clare Valley wines to choose from, this is the tightly wound wine for the long haul, delivering a laser-like palate that has all the richness and fruit weight discreetly packed for the ride.
Best pinot gris/grigio
2012 S.C. Pannell Pinot Grigio $26
A winemaker of immense talent who has made great wine in a number of important styles this year, S.C. Pannell demonstrates here that he can master style and quality in seemingly any direction he chooses to aim.
2012 Audrey Wilkinson Winemakers Selection Semillon $22
Chosen because it is the best-quality sauvignon available from the most recent vintage and a staggeringly satisfying wine in all respects. It delivers a complete package, with immense flavour and balance.
Best pinot noir
2010 Sangreal By Farr Pinot Noir $65
A statement of sheer experience and class, this is a pinot that has complexity and concentration delivered with polish and perfection. So many pinot noir makers are striving to make styles of real distinction and this shows how it should be done.
2010 Seville Estate Dr. McMahon Shiraz $100
Dedicated to the founder and made by his grandson, this is an immensely complex and impressive wine that bravely makes a strong statement of style and does so with tremendous conviction.
Best sweet wine
2011 Kaesler Botrytis Riesling $35
Striking concentration and purity here; this is about as good as sweet wine can hope to be. This is a hedonistic concentrated riesling that has such balance and strength it'll leave you in awe.