Margaret River wines and their producers have again come into the spotlight with the release of the latest James Halliday companion guide. While winemakers from the Barossa and Hunter Valley were lauded this year, an astonishing 65 Margaret River wineries scored five-star ratings in this year’s industry guide. “This was a celebration of Australian wine, following a year plagued with fire, drought and virus,” the critic said. “They showcased the resilience and strength of this proud industry.” Leeuwin Estate’s 2017 Art Series chardonnay was also a winner in the top varietals, with 99 points, described by the critic as “an extraordinary wine, among the great of Burgundy (and elsewhere in the world)”. Moss Woods’ 2016 cabernet sauvignon was also a top wine. Halliday called it “A luscious, plush cabernet, its voluptuous palate trimmed by dry herbs and forest notes — a great vintage maximised by the thoughtful vinification”. Nocturne Wines’ Nebbiolo rose was also top in its class on 96 points. Flowstone Wines’ 2018 Queen of the Earth was selected as top sauvignon blanc and described as “exceptionally complex and powerful”. Winemaker Stuart Pym told the Times the acknowledgement was welcomed. “If you look at the line-up (of four winning varietals), it would make quite a good selection of wines for a dinner,” he said. For best-value wineries, Deep Woods Estate was singled out, with 2019 winemaker of the year Julian Langworthy at the helm. Flowstone Wines also followed up on a previous best new winery gong with notes it was now among the top “best winery, not just best value” winners. The neighbouring Geographe region’s bakkheia winery, run by Michael and Ilonka Edwards, was also listed as one of Australia’s best new wineries. Leeuwin Estate’s Simone Furlong said her team tuned into the awards online. “We were honoured to receive the chardonnay Varietal Award for our 2017 Art Series Chardonnay, and particularly delighted to be in such great regional company with the outstanding acclaim Margaret River wines received in the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion,” she said. “As a family, we feel privileged to work alongside such a talented team at Leeuwin and love being part of this special wine community.” Margaret River Wine Association chief executive Amanda Whiteland applauded the high number of wineries receiving five stars, and celebrated the four varietal awards. Numerous Margaret River wines were also acknowledged with 95-or-more points. Ten wineries were acknowledged for their “track record of excellence”.