What is Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine?
Langton’s 2010 Classification of Australian Wine V is a ‘form guide’ of Australia’s best performing and most prized wines. It was first published in 1990 to create interest and build demand in the fledgling Australian fine wine market. Followed by wine collectors and wine trade around the world, it has become an Australian institution with a prestigious international currency. It is arguably the most famous and widely respected wine Classification outside of Europe.
How many wines are included in Langton’s Classification
of Australian Wine V?
Langton’s Classification V comprises 123 ultra-fine Australian wines, each with a reputation for consistency and provenance. Revised every five years, the Classification demonstrates an evolving Australian wine making culture at the forefront of innovation and excellence in the world of fine wine. It also reflects a continuing momentum towards single vineyard wines and regional identity. It maintains a strong emphasis on red wines, particularly labels with renowned cellaring potential.
How many Classifications have there been?
Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine is released every five years.
1991 Classification (I) – 34 Wines
1996 Classification (II) - 64 Wines
2000 Classification (III) – 89 Wines
2005 Classification (IV) – 101 Wines
2010 Classification (V) – 123 Wines
How many wines from Langton’s 2005 Classification made it into the 2010 Classification?
90 wines from Langton’s 2005 Classification (IV) of 101 wines are included in the 2010 Classification.
There are wines that have been relegated or dropped from the Classification. Why?
The Classification is driven by current market sentiment. We recognise that some producers and collectors will be disappointed with wines that have been relegated or dropped. However the Classification is a market barometer. It was never meant to entrench an order of things.
Why does Langton’s release a Classification?
Langton’s Classification was first released as a form guide for its clients. It has become increasingly recognised by the world of fine wine as an ‘unofficial honour roll’ of fine Australian wine. We continue to publish it because the information and analysis remains of genuine interest to the Australian and international fine wine market.
What are the Classification categories?
Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine comprises four categories – Exceptional, Outstanding, Excellent and Distinguished.
||The most highly sought after and prized first-growth type Australian wine on the market.
||Benchmark quality wines with a very strong market following.
||High performing wines of exquisite quality with solid volume of demand.
||Fine wine market staples or emerging classics.
What are the criteria for inclusion in the Classification?
The Classification works on the essential elements of track record and reputation, both of which are measured through market presence, consistency, volume of demand and price realisations. A wine must have 10 vintages made to be considered for the Classification. This principle is designed to allow a wine to build up a track record and reputation.
What data does Langton’s use to formulate its Classification?
The Classification is formulated using market data dating back to Langton’s first auction sale in February 1988. Market data used includes sale frequency, volume of demand, bidding activity, price realizations and volume of wine sold. We use this information to assemble an objective list of Australia’s best performing wines in the fine wine market. There are many thousands of labels considered – of these only 123 are classified by Langton’s.
Why has Langton’s Classification achieved recognition?
Langton’s Classification has achieved recognition because the criteria for inclusion are objective and market-driven. Based on a track record of demand at auction over a long period of time, Langton's Classification of Australian Wine reflects the sentiment of a well-informed market rather than individual preferences. For two decades it has set a benchmark by highlighting the best performing Australian fine wines on the secondary wine market. Regularly revised and updated, the Classification’s is intended to inspire debate and engage interest in Australia's most exquisite wines.
What is the Australian secondary wine market?
The secondary wine market is defined as ‘a market in which a buyer purchases wine from another collector/seller rather than from original primary release’ (that is cellar door or retail). From time to time wine producers and wine trade may use the secondary wine market to circulate stock.
Langton’s remains the prominent Australian fine wine auction house. It also sells wine through a ‘fixed-price’ exchange. Although Langton’s does sell commercial wines, the business has been orientated towards the ultra-fine Australian wine market and prestige international wines for over 20 years.
Who are Langton’s buyers and sellers?
The national and international wine trade, wine producers, wine collectors and wine enthusiasts from every conceivable demographic with a genuine love of fine wine.
Has Langton’s Classification had an impact on the perception of ultra-fine Australian wine?
Langton’s Classification is acknowledged by collectors and commentators worldwide as a credible gauge of Australia’s most collectable and highly prized wines. The currency of Langton’s Classification is enhanced by the publication of an art quality poster, specialist magazine lift-out (Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine publishes a ‘tip on’ magazine), as well as an informative online interactive of the selected wines on Langton’s website. Langton’s would like to believe that our efforts over the last 20 years have helped the cause of ultra-fine Australian wine.
Is the Classification a definitive guide to Australian wine?
No. Nor does it pretend to be. However, it is a barometer of the ultra-fine wine market and it does highlight Australia’s most prestigious and collectable wines. The Classification is evolutionary. There are many Australian wines that have achieved recognition or successes in other forums. This momentum may translate to secondary market traction. The Classification is not conceived to recognise individual or one-off vintages. The Australian Wine Show System and individual wine critics provide such recognition through Wine Show medals or reviews. Non vintage wines – which include some of Australia’s great fortified Muscats, Tokays (Topaque!) and Tawnys – are also not considered.
If I want to invest in Australian wine should I take notice of the Classification?
The Classification is not an investment chart. Although some individual labels have gained in value over the last five years, Langton’s advises investors to keep well away from the wine investment market unless they understand the pitfalls.
Does the Classification reflect any significant trends?
The stories behind the latest additions to the Exceptional category add to the narrative of Australia’s unfolding fine wine tradition. Each of these wines is evocative of personality as much as wine making method, vineyard site and regional identity. An Australian ‘First Growth’ does not necessarily anchor itself in the successes of another era. While heritage evokes continuity, culture and a connection with the landscape, the wine must ultimately stand up to the scrutiny of the market.
Langton’s Classification V continues to recognise Australia’s classic wine regions: Margaret River, The Barossa, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Yarra Valley and Hunter Valley. The addition of the gorgeously seductive Castagna Genesis Syrah and Savaterre Chardonnay highlight the spectacular potential of Beechworth, located along the metatarsal bones of the Victorian Alps. The entry of the beautiful Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling and Leo Buring Leonay Riesling, the latter catalogued to recognise its duality, acknowledge the exquisite aging potential of this genre.
The Barossa is an impressive fine wine market performer. The diversity of styles and compelling sub-regional differences have captured the imagination and admiration of collectors. Barossa Shiraz and Eden Valley Riesling, particularly, are recognised and loved for their age-worthy characters. 25 years ago, it was predicted that the Barossa would die. The further addition of seven Barossa wines, not to mention the regional components of Penfolds Bin 28 and Penfolds in 407, all reflect a remarkable ascendancy.
The return to form of the superb Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon and the new Outstanding addition of Balnaves The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon echo a renewed confidence in Coonawarra. It is no coincidence that there have been huge advances in viticulture and winemaking in recent times.
Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir, Main Ridge Half Acre Pinot Noir, Paringa Estate ‘The Paringa’ Single Vineyard Pinot Noir and Freycinet Pinot Noir are included for the first time. Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir re-enters the Classification after a five year hiatus. These additions reflect a strong swing towards single-vineyard Australian Pinot Noir, particularly from cool-climate sites in Victoria and Tasmania.
The inclusion of Woodlands Cabernet Sauvignon and Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot further add to the diversity and interest in Margaret River’s ‘Great Wine Estates’ Sub-regional difference is underscored by the strong presence of Margaret River Cabernet and Barossa Shiraz. Australia’s old vine heritage is further bolstered by the addition of the Hunter Valley’s McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz and the Barossa’s Kaesler Wines Old Bastard Shiraz. The lyrical Dalwhinnie The Eagle Shiraz, joins the Outstanding category.
When drilled down to its basic structure of 58 Shiraz/ Shiraz blends, 40 Cabernet/Cabernet blends, 15 White wines and 10 Pinot Noirs, Langton’s Classification V clearly illustrates that Australia’s finest and most prized wines possess a reputation for longevity or represent the very best of genre or regional provenance.
Where can I get detailed price data about Langton’s Classification V wines?
Langton’s has a comprehensive database of over 1,000,000 auction price realisations. Collectors and wine enthusiasts are able to access this information free of charge at www.langtons.com.au. On Langton’s website select Wine Tools/Price Guide.
"In Australia there is no official Classification of vineyards or wineries, although one that is gaining ground among wine collectors, through both reputation and shrewd marketing, is that of Langton’s Fine Wine Auctions." Tim White, Australian Financial Review
"The development of the Classification mirrors the growing worldwide interest in fine Australian wine. There is a clear need to focus the market by creating and regularly updating a fine wine 'form guide'. It is a simple, straightforward guide for anyone interested in drinking or investing in the best Australian wine." Andrew Caillard MW, Langton’s