The 8th edition of the Langtons Classification of Australian Wine has seen the most dramatic shake-up to the list since it was first published in 1990.
It shows how drastically Australian collectors’ tastes and interests have evolved since the previous edition, five years ago.
The Langtons Classification is the go-to guide to Australia’s most highly sought-after wines, reflecting consumer demand, collectability and prices fetched at auction.
“The 8th edition of the Langtons Classification of Australian Wine represents a seismic shift in the purchasing, drinking and investing habits of Australia’s top fine wine buyers,” says Michael Anderson, head of auctions and secondary market.
“We can see a movement away from the hedonistic full-bodied reds, with a shift towards lighter styles from cooler climates and a sprinkling of top tier, vibrant whites, too.”
The new Classification comprises a total of 100 wines across 60 wineries.
The wines are given the title of ‘Classified’, reflecting their demand and performance in the secondary market (at auction).
A special designation of ‘1st Classified’ is reserved for a small cohort of wines representing the most desirable wines in Australia that compete with the world’s finest.
The 1st Classified name is a homage to the Premier Cru (First Growth) wines that sit atop the 1855 Bordeaux Classification, which was the original inspiration for the Langtons Classification.
“This new edition shows the biggest change in the history of the Langtons Classification with clear trends towards elegance and distinction,” Anderson says.
“Driving this change, the new guard illustrates the trend for Australia’s wine scene in an international context where fine wine moves into the realm of luxury.”
Nineteen new wines have joined the ranks, including The Relic Shiraz Viognier and The Schubert Theorem Shiraz (The Standish Wine Company), Hoffmann Dallwitz and Little Wine Shiraz (Sami-Odi), Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Tolpuddle), and Quartz Chardonnay (Bindi) underlining a clear new direction to more elegant styles of Shiraz and southeast regions featuring Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
To make it into the Classification, each wine must have been released for at least ten vintages and have a strong track record in the secondary market.
Icons of Australian fine wine lead the line, including Penfolds Grange, Henschke Hill of Grace, Wendouree Shiraz, Rockford Basket Press Shiraz and Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay.
These stalwarts have graced Langtons Classification year after year and embody the pinnacle of Australian fine wine with demand for blue chip wines and producers another key trend.
“In Classifications gone by, the richly robed reds of warmer climate parts of South Australia were stalwart wines,” Anderson says.
“While such wines from top names are still loved among collectors, there is clear and irrefutable movement towards lighter styles from cool climate regions, including Pinot Noir from Bindi and Bass Phillip, as well as top Chardonnays from Macedon, Gippsland, Tasmania and beyond.”
South Australia continues to lead the Classification with 48 wines. “Largely thanks to the continued ascendancy of Barossa wines,” says Anderson.
Victoria has 27 wines in the list, Western Australia 11, New South Wales nine and Tasmania four.
“Being recognised on the Langtons Classification is about more than just making great wine,” Anderson says.
“It ensures that those included are considered by critics, collectors and fine wine aficionados alike as at the very top of their game.
“The Classification is data-led and based on consistency, quality, clearance and tradability in the market.
“Internationally the Classification offers winemakers and winemaking regions the opportunity to benchmark themselves against the greatest and most traded wines in Australia.
“A stylistic form guide for what styles and techniques are hot and what names to keep an eye out for.”