By James Halliday

The All Saints story began in 1864 with two Scottish engineers, George Sutherland Smith and John Banks. Their expertise made them wealthy, and they decided to build a castle and plant vines at Wahgunyah, beside the Murray River in northeast Victoria.


The 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s rolled through Australia’s social fabric at an unstoppable pace, the Australian wine industry changing more than most. In 1963 Max Lake became the first person to start a boutique winery in Australia, calling it Lake’s Folly – a beacon for the thousands of winemakers who followed, and continue to follow, in his footprints.


By the end of the ‘70s, cool climate regions were starting to pop up like flowers in spring, and with them alternative varieties such as merlot took off, chardonnay having done the same thing. In 1987, exports exceeded imports for the first time.


All Saints, owned by the Sutherland Smith family for more than 100 years, was unable to respond and receivers were called in, advertising that all the stocks of muscat and tokay were for sale. A feeding frenzy ensued, and popular myth had it that the oldest and best barrels had all been sold. Enter Brown Brothers in 1991, buying the business outright. Several years later, in an amicable rearrangement of the family businesses, Peter R. Brown swapped his shares in Brown Brothers in return for ownership of All Saints.


In 2005, Peter Brown was killed in a road accident and his three children Eliza, Angela and Nick had to decide whether to sell All Saints or take over the management of the business. Take over they did: Eliza is now CEO, Angela is sales and marketing director, and Nick is general manager. And far from all the best muscat and muscadelle having been sold, treasured barrels of 100-year-old wine allow All Saints to sell their museum wines on strict allocation.



Its concentration is such that you want to physically bite on the wine. Amid the fireworks there is a certain calm of the so-fine spirit. The sweet/sour flavours of ancient balsamic vinegar are amazing. It is based on 100-year-old-plus components and bottled only on order.

375ml, 18% alc, Vinolok

100 points, $1000



Outstanding quality and character. Fragrant tea leaf aromas, concentrated flavours of malt toffee and butterscotch from a 50-year-old-plus solera. Deep seated perfume of eastern spices, viscosity on another level.

375ml, 18% alc, Vinolok

97 points, $120



Great intensity and finesse. It manages to balance the complexity of its 25-year-old-plus age with freshness and vitality; lemon drops, cardamom, treacle and burnt toffee, freshly rolled tobacco and bitter herbs paint all corners of the mouth with the tongue.

375ml, 18% alc, Vinolok

94 points, $75


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