Langton's Classification of Australian Wines

Discover how langton's decides which wines in the local wine market will make it into our five-year Classification.

Classification V

Classification Explained

The 'Honour Roll' of Australian fine 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.

Langton's Classification of Australian Wine has achieved recognition because the criteria for inclusion are objective and market-driven and the Classification is regularly revised and updated.

The formula for success

wine must have been made for 10 vintages to be considered for the Classification. Its inclusion rests on its performance in the market, volume of demand and the prices it realises. This method allows a wine to build up a track record and reputation.

Langton's uses market data dating back to the first auction sale in February 1988 to make its calculations. There are many thousands of labels considered. Of these, only 123 were included in the most recent Classification. Access our complete database of over 1,000,000 auction price realisations here

Charting an evolution

Revised every five years, the Classification demonstrates an evolving Australian winemaking 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.

The Classification is driven by current market sentiment. Naturally, there is disappointment when a wine is relegated or dropped. However the Classification is a market barometer. It was never meant to entrench an order of things.

Making the grade

Langton's Classification of Australian Wine comprises four categories – Exceptional, Outstanding, Excellent and Distinguished.

How to use the Classification

It's important to understand that the Langton's Classification is more a barometer of the Australian ultra-fine wine market, rather than a definitive guide. Nor does it have broad parameters – for instance, non-vintage wines including some of Australia's great fortified wines, such as Muscat, Tokay and Tawny are not included.

It's best employed by connoisseurs and collectors, rather than as an investment chart. While some labels have increased their value over the years, Langton's advises investors to beware of trying to capitalise on the wine market unless they fully understand its pitfalls.

Exceptional
The most highly sought after and prized first-growth type Australian wine on the market.
Outstanding
Benchmark quality wines with a very strong market following.
Excellent
High performing wines of exquisite quality with solid volume of demand.
Distinguished
Fine wine market staples or emerging classics

Classification V

Australia's classic wine regions continue to hold pride of place: Margaret River, The Barossa, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Yarra Valley and Hunter Valley. The addition of the seductive Castagna Genesis Syrah and Savaterre Chardonnay highlight the outstanding potential of Beechworth, located along the metatarsal bones of the Victorian Alps. The entries of Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling and Leo Buring Leonay Riesling pay homage to the exquisite ageing potential of this variety.

Valley of the Kings

The Barossa is still an impressive fine wine market performer. With a diversity of styles and compelling sub-regional differences, it has captured the imagination and admiration of collectors. In particular, Barossa Shiraz and Eden Valley Riesling are lauded for their age-worthy characters. 25 years ago, it was predicted that the Barossa would die. The addition of seven Barossa wines, not to mention the regional components of Penfolds Bin 28 and Penfolds Bin 407, all reflect a remarkable ascendancy.

Coonawarra comeback

The return to form of the superb Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon and the arrival of Balnaves The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in the Outstanding category echo a renewed confidence in Coonawarra.

Cooling off

Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir, Main Ridge Half Acre Pinot Noir, Paringa Estate 'The Paringa' Single Vineyard Pinot Noir and Freycinet Pinot Noir have made their debut. While Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir re-enters the Classification after a five-year hiatus. Evidence, if any were needed, of a strong swing towards single-vineyard Australian Pinot Noir, particularly from cool-climate sites in Victoria and Tasmania.

Heritage-listed

Balancing the ledger, sub-regional differences are underscored by the inclusion 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.

Overall, V's list of 58 Shiraz and Shiraz blends, 40 Cabernet and Cabernet blends, 15 White wines and 10 Pinot Noirs 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.