The Austin Chronicle

Wine of the Week

By Wes Marshall, October 9, 2009, Food

Undervalued Treasures

James Halliday is the author of The Wine Atlas of Aus­tralia and the world's most renowned expert on Austral­ian wines. He refers to his homeland's McWilliam's Wines as "undervalued treasures," a view at least partly based on their low prices and high quality.

McWilliam's makes over a dozen wines, though currently only nine make it to the U.S. Hanwood is its low-priced line, usually running $10 to­ $12 a bottle – sometimes even less, depending on the store and whether the wine is on sale. The best of the Hanwood line are the Riesling, chardonnay, and cabernet sauvignon.

The key to these three wines' successes are their bracing acidity. For instance, the Riesling has that rare type of acidity that dances around on your tongue, just like the German versions that cost $20 or more. McWilliam's chardonnay is rich without being overly oaky, and has the ability to cleanse your palate. Given the fact that so few chardonnays have big enough acids to make them worthwhile with dinner, this wine should draw a lot of attention from foodies. And McWilliam's cabernet is loaded with cherry and mint aromas that create magic with grilled meat. All three compete handily with wines twice their price.

McWilliam's Wines are available from Austin's own Web store,, and at larger H-E-Bs.

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