From the tasting team

The Halliday Tasting Team's desert island wines

By J'aime Cardillo

16 May, 2024

We asked the Halliday Tasting Team for the wine they'd choose to be sipping on a desert island.

Have you ever thought about your desert island wine? The one wine you'd take with you if you were going to be shipwrecked? PS. Everyone is getting off this hypothetical desert island.

We asked the Halliday Tasting Team for their choice. Here's what they said.

Mike Bennie is sticking to theme with a wine from the island of Sicily – Lamoresca Rosato. "Sicily is an island, so an island wine for a desert island wine kind of makes good sense to me.

"Lamoresca’s Rosato is consistently one of the world’s great pink wines (well, actually often quite dark coloured). It’s typically produced from nero d’Avola and frappato, has body, tannin structure and crunch to texture. It’s a serious, complex rosé ideal for a myriad of occasions, but more so, beachside, under a coconut tree, alone in the middle of the ocean with only seafood available." 

Jeni PortJeni Port.

Staying on the island of Sicily, Jane Faulkner says she's drinking Benanti Pietra Marina Etna Bianco Superiore. "Made from one of my favourite white varieties, carricante, which hails from the slopes of Mt Etna on Sicily, with vineyards up to 90 years old. 

"Thankfully I chilled the wine before landing on the desert island, so this is crisp, mouth-watering, lemon-saline flavoured and oh-so refreshing."

For Shanteh Wale, it would be a Romanée-Conti. "I would choose a red wine to keep me company during the long lonely nights, if I take a single wine experience from my life it would have to be the 2015 Domaine de La Romanée-Conti La Tâche Grand Cru."

Shanteh says the Grand Cru brought her to tears. "And to this day, years later, I can viscerally recall the flavours and sensations."

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Sicily is an island, so an island wine for a desert island wine makes good sense to me. – Mike Bennie

Jeni Port says she's been buying one particular tawny for decades – a love that was sparked by her first trip to the Barossa.

"Sip by delicious sip, day after dreary day, alone on my desert island, the wine to keep me in good spirits – while bringing back some of my best memories of wine – is an easy call: Saltram’s Mr Pickwick’s Particular Tawny. It is undoubtedly an underrated classic Aussie fortified. It's lusciously sweet, complex with an average age of more than 21 years and, importantly, it will last the distance until the first sighting of a rescue ship...hopefully."

Marcus EllisMarcus Ellis.

For Dave Brookes, the answer depends on whether he's shipwrecked or kicking back in paradise (and fair enough).

"I figure a Spätlese German riesling would provide me with the correct balance of hydration and residual sugar for energy at a modest alcohol level so carrying out tasks of water and food procurement wouldn't be so much of a chore."

But if he's just hanging out on a beautiful island? Well, then "Make it a magnum of 1978 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux, preferably in perfect condition and auto-replenishing like a never ending packet of Tim-Tams." 

Also looking to Germany, is Marcus Ellis. "Although the desert island is metaphorical, I can’t help but conjure images of blue skies and swaying palms. For me, Grosses Gewächs riesling, perhaps from Dönnhoff or Clemens Busch – refined and mineral but bristling with fruitful power, essentially dry but with the ballast of extract and discreet sugar easing the path of vigorous acidity. Yep, that would do while I look to the horizon (perhaps reluctantly) across cerulean waters for rescue."

Toni Paterson MW's pick comes from the Hunter Valley. "My desert island wine would be a Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon. I don’t mind what vintage – as they always look good – though I would lean towards a more youthful version.

"They are released at around five years of age, so that would be perfect. The combination of supreme freshness, along with purity and intensity, plus faint accents from age, is a winning combination. It is a unique wine and one of Australia’s finest."

Campbell Mattinson and Philip Rich are currently on the other side of the world, perhaps finding their desert island wines. Campbell has been wine-bar hopping in Rome and Greece, while Philip is making his way across Paris, Champagne, Burgundy and Lyon for the Halliday Wine Academy Immersion Tour: France.