If you walk into a bottle shop looking for a wine and don’t know what to choose, this approach may help.

The Australian wine scene is a broad canvas of many splendid things but most regions have built a reputation for being leading producers of at least one variety.

If you know which varieties thrive in which regions, you have a solid starting point for selecting a good wine from the hundreds of labels vying for your attention.

It’s my very simple “horses for courses” wine selection method: marry each major wine variety with one region. If you commit this guide to memory, you’ll be starting in a strong position to make a wise choice.

Here we go with the reds:

• Barossa shiraz

• Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon

• McLaren Vale grenache

• Mornington and Yarra Valley pinot noir (I couldn’t resist including two regions here!)

For the whites:

• Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc

• Clare Valley riesling

• Hunter Valley semillon, and

• Margaret River chardonnay

And for sparkling wines, Tasmania rules.

Of course, many different regions produce many different varieties well. And before the protests roll my way, there are many more regions and sub-regions beyond the ones mentioned above that make extraordinarily compelling wines: for example, a Langhorne Creek winery was named Winery of the Year by the Halliday Wine Companion just a few months back.

My point is that by starting with a classic varietal/regional match, a wine drinker puts in place a foundation stone from which one’s discovery of the world of wine can begin.

This is where The Australian Wine Club comes in with our mixed dozen deals of the week. We often include in the mix at least one regional classic that can be used as a measuring stick to compare the same variety from other regions.

This week we’re focusing on chardonnay, starting with a Margaret River classic and venturing out to quality examples from the Yarra Valley, the Hunter and the Pyrenees. Margaret River has forged a reputation as a producer of brilliant chardonnay since the 1980s, when an international chardonnay tasting held by London-based wine magazine Decanter judged the 1981 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay as the highest-rated wine.

“The standard for chardonnay in Margaret River is very, very high,’’ says Franklin Tate, whose Miles from Nowhere Best Blocks Chardonnay 2021 leads our mixed chardonnay dozen. “When you look at the region’s track record, you have to say chardonnay seems to be the easiest variety for Margaret River to excel at.”

Margaret River’s reliable maritime climate, as well as its ancient granite-based soils running from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south, are essential elements.

Franklin, also vice-chairman of industry body Wine of Western Australia, has been heavily involved in the wine game since his father, John Tate, established one of the west’s pioneer wineries, Evans & Tate, in 1971. Nowadays, Franklin draws chardonnay from four different Margaret River vineyards planted between 20 and 30 years ago.

“The vines are producing excellent fruit but there are many, many chardonnays being produced in Margaret River now that would make your jaw drop,” he says.

Australian Chardonnay

Miles From Nowhere Best Blocks Margaret River Chardonnay 2021

You can literally smell the quality: white nectarines, honey and fruit pastry aromas swirl, introducing rich flavours of stone fruits, lemon pie, almond meal and vanilla. Lovely balance between fruit and French oak, with a line of refreshing acidity driving to a crisp finish. Aged in French barriques for 10 months. 13.5% alc; RRP $30 a bottle.

SPECIALS $23.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 a bottle in chardonnay dozen.


TarraWarra Estate Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2018

Classy chardonnay from a star Yarra winery. Great intensity with stone fruits, a touch of citrus and underlying cashew nut flavours. Creamy texture and subtle use of oak leading to a fresh, lingering finish. 95 points from James Halliday. 13.2% alc; RRP $35 a bottle.

SPECIALS $29.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 a bottle in chardonnay dozen.


Dalwhinnie Mesa Chardonnay 2022

With five red stars from the Halliday Wine Companion, Dalwhinnie produces award-winning wines from the heart of the Pyrenees in western Victoria. Orange blossoms, fresh white peach and melon aromas lift from the glass, leading to juicy nectarines, peaches, lemon mousse and a touch of spice on the palate. Matured for six months in mainly older oak puncheons and barriques. Beautiful drinking. 12.5% alc; RRP $35 a bottle.

SPECIALS $29.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 a bottle in chardonnay dozen.


Hungerford Hill Dalwood Vineyard Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2022

From the oldest continually operating vineyard in Australia comes a crisp chardonnay featuring aromas of peach, butter and vanilla, opening the door to an array of peach, melon, grapefruit and cashew nut flavours. Plenty of power but light on its feet. 12.5% alc; RRP $40 a bottle.

SPECIALS $29.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 a bottle in chardonnay dozen.

CHARDONNAY DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $24.99 a bottle. SAVE $120 a dozen.

Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.