Artisan Files

James Halliday: the ultimate wine companion

James Halliday


Over four decades of tasting wines and this man isn’t stopping now. He is motivated in an almost game-like search for the sheer blissful one or two that stand out from the rest.

When you listen to Mr Halliday, you quickly understand that his pleasure in tasting thousands of unique fermented juices of the grape vines is matched with the excitement of being a part of an industry which is built with the perpetual aim of making each vintage better than the last.

We were privileged to have an interview with this legendary wine expert the very day after the release of the Halliday Wine Companion 2016 and second book, Varietal Wines.

Wine Companion 2016           Varietal Wines 2015

Obviously our questions were posed from the perspective of admirers of artisans and their products. For wine is one such product that really needs all aspects of the Origin to Consumption Chain to be of highest quality to yield the best quality result.

Mr Halliday spoke enthusiastically about the degree of care displayed by the artisan winemaker who produced the winner of this year’s Best Wine: Tom Carson. “Here’s a boutique, micro-vineyard where the winemaker is completely responsible for every aspect of the chain, from pruning the vines through to bottling – everything! Attention to detail equates to at least half of the input required to produce a quality wine. Artisan winemakers generally run smaller, more boutique operations which allows them to be more agile in terms of  their response to environmental pressures. This is a huge advantage, particularly in reacting quickly to weather changes that may otherwise be devastating to a vintage.”

Australia is a relatively new-comer to the art of wine making when compared to other world-renowned producers. Our land is so vast with fertile soils, fresh air and varying climates which all lend a helping hand in growing excellent grapes of various varieties. Mr Halliday explained that Australia is in the midst of a boutique winery boom, with more than half of all operating wineries having been founded post-2000. “This can be attributed to the lure of dreamers, professionals who have the funds and desire of a lifestyle change. This young generation of winemakers are passionate and driven, always learning on the job. It is a unique phenomenon to our country. In the more established wine-regions of the world, wine-making is usually either a family trade or only available to financial magnates looking to leave some sort of legacy.”

Here’s cheers to Australian winemakers – enjoy reading about their wines in the Halliday Wine Companion 2016 and meet the artisans on the Artisan House directory.

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