2023 Major Winners

Dark Horse Winery

By The Tasting Team

2023 Dark Horse Winery

L.A.S. VinoMargaret River, Western Australia

Dark Horse nominees are wineries that are not new to the Companion but who have received a 5-star rating for the first time this year.

Nic testing wine from the barrelNic Peterkin's brainchild L.A.S. Vino was established in 2013.
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Nic throws himself at wine with freshness and a vivacity and a curiosity that are catching.

Nic Peterkin was born with pedigree winemaking blood in his veins, but nothing bar his own ingenuity and hard work have got him to where L.A.S. Vino is today. Nic has consistently produced wines that push boundaries and show a penchant for his calculated, out-of-the-box style of thinking. Whether it is alternate fermentation vessels, wildly extended time on skins (one nebbiolo once spent something like 400+ days on skins), experimental processes (fermenting grapes in sea water, or using the yeast of native flora, for example) Nic throws himself at wine with freshness and a vivacity and a curiosity that are catching.

To say that the wines are expressive, and individual is true, but it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. These wines have a tendency to extract unexpected descriptors, flavours and experiences from the writer, and the drinker, all the while portraying a classicism and accuracy of site that make them so brilliant. – Erin Larkin

L.A.S. Vino CBDBThe L.A.S. Vino CBDB Chenin Blanc has been rated 96 points.

L.A.S. – which stands for luck, art, and science – is one of Margaret River’s most cutting-edge wine labels. “I think sometimes it takes a little bit of risk to go, okay, let's treat this chenin like chardonnay. Let's handpick it, hand sort it, let's treat the grape with respect as opposed to a mass product, and let's see what comes of it.” Nic says sometimes the risk isn’t in the vineyard and the winery, but in the idea. “It's more just taking the risk on a category that no one's drinking. And being confident enough to back yourself so you can go out there and educate people about why it is so good.

“What I enjoy the most is the holistic view of it. Seeing a vineyard and then translating that season into wine. It's really rewarding seeing your decisions turn into a final product, and then seeing people enjoy that product.”

Tyson Stelzer on the 2023 Dark Horse Winery

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Previous Dark Horse Winery recipients include Singlefile Wines (2014), Haselgrove Wines (2015), Terindah Estate (2016), Arlewood Estate (2017), Boat O’Craigo (2018), Principia (2019), Dal Zotto Wines (2020), Yarran Wines (2021), Renzaglia Wines (2022) and L.A.S. Vino (2023).

The 2024 Halliday Wine Companion is available now. Secure your copy of Australia's most comprehensive wine guide here – and at all good bookstores.

This is an edited extract from the 2024 Halliday Wine Companion, with reviews by James Halliday, Campbell Mattinson, Dave Brookes, Jane Faulkner, Jeni Port, Mike Bennie, Ned Goodwin MW, Philip Rich and Shanteh Wale. Cover art by Ka Mo.