The release of the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2011 Edition last week caused a lot of interest. Because lots of wineries were receiving five stars meaning they are the top of their achievement  tree.

Or in the eyes of venerable Australian reviewer James Halliday this is the word, although there were a few tasting notes supplied by Ben Edwards who has been assisting James over the past few years.

Halliday has posted full tasting notes for 3888 wines (from 8116 tasted), ratings and drink dates for a further 2613 wines from 1487 wineries rated (there are over 2000 wineries from which to choose!)

The 2010 Gambero Rosso: gambero meaning prawn, and rosso red, yet curiously the publishers are having a lend of readers this year by releasing it in pink paperback with an image of the said prawn on the front cover.

However this is one serious book (23rd edition) with an editor-in-chief, Daniele Cernilli, three senior editors, 10 special contributors, 13 main contributors and 35 other contributors.

Gambero Rosso reports on 18,000 wines (from 25,000 samples) from 2,253 producers, awarding three glasses to 391 wines, editors’ three glass plus to 31 wines, and three green glasses to 75 wines. This release is printed in English and Italian with the address of the publisher in New York.

However browsing through my 1989 Italian version (second edition), 2200 wines were reviewed from 600 producers; there were two editors, Daniele Cernilli and Carlo Petrini (of Slow Food fame).

In the introduction to the 2010 book, the Guide says “The 2010 guide is also the first published by Gambero Rosso alone. Our long-standing collaboration with Slow Food has come to an end”, and that sounds like a story for another day.

The red wine of the year is a nebbiolo from Gattinara (north of Barolo) from Antoniolo, 2005, white wine was a fiano from Campania from Colli di Lapio, 2008 while winery of the year was Piedmont’s Bruno Giacosa from Nieve (three cup Barolo and Barbarescos 05s).

The most significant awards were the green glasses which is a step in the right direction. However the 10 criteria are a little misdirected as there is obvious bias towards large producers who will necessarily use mechanical means to produce wine for everyday drinking but still capable of three glass recognition. This is green bashing gone a little too far.

From Halliday’s 2011 Edition of Wine Companion, one Queensland brand, Summit Estate entered the five star winery category, to sit alongside the ever present Boireann, now a five star winery five years running.