Showing posts with label Hunter Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hunter Valley. Show all posts

Monday, 23 May 2022

Hunter Valley Legends and Wine Industry Awards 2022


I was fortunate enough to spend the last couple of days traversing the Hunter Valley, Australia's oldest continuous wine producing region dating back to 1828, with a group of media delving deep into what makes the region tick. 

Most famously recognised for its incredible ability to produce the world's best Semillon, we took part in several masterclasses and tasted some 65+ wines. Shiraz, the other glamour of the region, certainly played its part - beautifully medium-bodied in all its glory, but a stand-out variety, and one that deserves more credit, were the stunning examples of Chardonnay. Very much sitting in the shadows of its regional siblings, Hunter Valley Chardonnay is an excellent drink and there are so many diverse expressions of it.

A tasting was also undertaken of some emerging varieties including Albarino, Fiano, Vermentino, Viognier, Touriga, and Sagrantino to name a few. 

Our first stop was at Tyrrell's to taste through 16 examples of Semillon. Hosted by Mark Richardson (Tyrrell's) and Andrew Thomas (Thomas Wines), a bracket of recent releases was followed by a bracket of 2013 showcasing how well Semillon will age. The best examples were uber fresh and you'd think they were bottled yesterday!

Semillon is a variety ideal for summer drinks in the sun. As Andrew Thomas said, "Anything you can squeeze a lemon on, Hunter Semillon is the way to go." That sums it up perfectly!

The stand out Semillons from around the region come off the alluvial soils found on the valley floor. A great take away was that cooler years have shown better long-term cellaring potential and warmer years lean to more immediate enjoyment. Andrew Thomas added that 2013 was the greatest Semillon vintage in the last twenty years.

Of the eight recent releases, the top picks were:

Brokenwood Oakey Creek 2021 (tank sample most likely heading to ILR), Silkman Reserve 2021, Thomas Braemore 2022, Tyrrell's Vat 1 2022. These wines showed soft, delicate citrus fruits, clean and well-handled acidity with impressive precision and purity.

The 2013 Semillons were absolutely incredible and have all shared their fair share of bling over the years. The best of the best were:

Briar Ridge Dairy Hill 2013, Brokenwood ILR 2013, Mount Pleasant Lovedale 2013, Thomas Braemore 2013. The freshness of these wines was incredible and really highlighted the ageworthiness of Hunter Valley Semillon.

Lunch was calling and it was back on the bus to Ben Ean, recently purchased by Brian McGuigan. As we arrived we were met by the man himself with a glass of Chardonnay in hand. Lunch was served and seven Chardonnays were enjoyed alongside an excellent feast. The pick of these was Tyrrell's HVD 2021. A runaway favourite, it comes off what are said to be the oldest Chardonnay vines in the world. Terrifically complex with a leaner drive, it's just magic. The Dalwood 2021 and Scarborough Keeper of the Flame 2021 (a new wine yet to be released) both stood tall and impressed. The latter shows how 100% new French oak can be handled exquisitely without dominating the fruit. Drink more Hunter Valley Chardonnay I say! Funny that, I made that my goal for 2022 - check it here.

Shiraz was up next and it was off to the new Mount Pleasant cellar door. This place is something and one out of the box. Guests are in for a treat when it officially opens in a couple of weeks.

Here we explored 12 wines, each example showing the 2019 and 2009 version. Hosted by Stuart Hordern (Brokenwood), Andrew Sparks (Mount Pleasant) and Phil Ryan (Mount Pleasant), Hordern explained the best Shiraz vineyards sit on red soils, perched on a hill that is east facing. These sites hug the range which shelters the vines from the afternoon sun and wind. Of course, like the Semillon vineyards, there are exceptions, but it is a credible rule of thumb to apply when you picture where the best blocks sit: Old Paddock, Old Hill and Graveyard to name a few.

Of the first bracket, the Thomas Kiss and De Iuliis Limited Release were blistering wines, both in their youth and the aged example. Hordern described both producers as making 'contemporary Hunter Valley wines' with their quality shining through. The Thomas Kiss is a single vineyard wine and comes from the Pokolbin Estate vineyards planted in 1969. The De Iuliis on the other hand is a blend of his best parcels (Steven and Lovedale Road) although the 2009 was predominantly from the famed Tallawanta vineyard. If you don't know these two producers, it's time to introduce yourself. Andrew Thomas is a meticulous winemaker and his perfection seeps through his wines. Mike De Iuliis is an excellent producer and his high-level consistency sees him standing tall alongside the much more famous brands in the valley. Respect.

The second bracket was all about the old firm - Tyrrell's Vat 9, Brokenwood Graveyard and Mount Pleasant Maurice O'Shea. Tyrrell's Vat 9 2009 and both the Graveyard 2019 and 2009 stole the show. Winemakers chase the black fruit profile and the 2009 wines of these two exhibited precisely just that and were humming. Classically medium-bodied, Hunter Valley Shiraz is a stunning drink when done well.

One more stop saw us drop by Peppertree to be hosted by Gwyn Olsen (Peppertree) and Aaron Mercer (Mercer Wines). As mentioned previously, the exploration of emerging varieties in the Hunter Valley is really gaining some momentum. Given the warm Hunter days during summer, the disease and drought threat is real. Producing fruit able to contend with both would make the life of viticulturists and winemakers less stressful. Pecorino is said to show resistance to disease and Touriga is a high cropping variety that thrives without water. Add these to the vast array of other varieties around the region and there is something to pique everyone's interest.

A glittering black tie dinner capped off an incredible day. The wonderful camaraderie and warmth in the room plus the fabulous community vibe were thrilling to experience. The award winners are listed below although something that ought to be mentioned is the fitting tribute paid to the late Hunter Valley Legend Karl Stockhausen by Mount Pleasant's Phil Ryan.

Riedel Young Achiever of the Year: Alex Beckett (Briar Ridge Vineyard) 
Liz Silkman and MC Iain Riggs
HVWTA Tourism Operator of the Year: Beyond Ballooning 
HVWTA Accommodation Operator of the Year: Spicers Guesthouse 
Jurds Viticulturist of the Year: Jerome Scarborough (Scarborough Wine Co.) 
Wine Selectors Cellar Door of the Year: De Iuliis Wines 
First Creek Winemaking Services Winemaker of the Year: Liz Silkman (First Creek Wines & Silkman Wines) 
HVWTA Outstanding Contribution of an Individual: Christina Tulloch (Tulloch Wines) 
HVWTA Patron: Brian McGuigan AM 
Hunter Valley Tourism Legend: Philip Hele OAM (Hunter Valley Resort & The Farm Hunter Valley) Hunter Valley Wine Legend: Neil McGuigan

Sincere thanks to all at Hunter Valley Wine Tourism and the winemakers who made this experience such a memorable one.

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Saturday, 14 May 2022

Thomas Wines Sweetwater Shiraz 2020

The 2020 Hunter Valley vintage was a challenge and it is no more evident with Andrew Thomas' minuscule releases. Normally releasing a vast array of Shiraz from across the district, Thommo's scrupulous fruit selection resulted in only three Shiraz being released. And in true Thomas Wines style, no stone was left unturned to deliver the best wines possible.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Thomas Wines Two of a Kind Shiraz 2020


A quick look at Andrew Thomas' new Two of a Kind release - his traditional blend of Hunter Valley and McLaren Vale Shiraz.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Thomas Wines Synergy Shiraz 2020

Andrew Thomas' overall production in 2020 was down 60% due to his meticulous fruit selection given the smoke issues that some areas of the Hunter Valley were exposed to. Thommo would normally pick a dozen sites but in 2020 he only picked four. But have a look at this... With the quality of the fruit, he even suspects this to be the best Synergy Shiraz he has released.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Thomas Wines Synergy Semillon 2022


Hot off the press, this is my first look at a 2022 release. Andrew Thomas brought this along with many other delights for his Thomas on Tour road trip that hits the east coast showcasing his new red wine releases. 

Friday, 8 April 2022

De Iuliis Limited Release Chardonnay 2019


Rich and generous, comforting and embracing, this is a fabulous Hunter Valley Chardonnay from De Iuliis Wines.

Friday, 11 March 2022

De Iuliis Limited Release Chardonnay 2009


Generous and rich, here we have a thirteen-year-old Chardonnay smashing it out of the park.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

De Iuliis Talga Road Shiraz 2019


A bigger, more muscular Shiraz than we are used to from the Hunter, but it's well worth sinking your teeth into. Give it some air and you will be rewarded deluxe. An excellent wine!

Friday, 4 March 2022

De Iuliis Single Vineyard Semillon 2021


This is that cruiser bike with fat wheels ridden with a flat peak cap, worn backward of course. It's the cool kid that just moves with a street-wise swagger. A delicious Hunter Semillon.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

De Iuliis Limited Release Shiraz 2017

A blend of the best barrels from De Iuliis' Talga Road, Steven and Lovedale Road vineyards, this is a curvacious medium-bodied Shiraz built to last. Already five years young, it's only just loosening up now as it comes in off the long run. Decant and embrace.

Friday, 18 February 2022

McGuigan Cellar Select Shiraz 2019


A bold and moody Shiraz from McGuigan Wines. Part of their Cellar Select range, it's dense with some power behind it. 

Sunday, 13 February 2022

De Iuliis Special Release Pecorino 2021


The first release of the De Iuliis Pecorino and what a mighty fine debut it is. Crispy and crunchy, it is very delicious!

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

De Iuliis Rosé 2021


Chill hard and pour large. What an absolute beauty this is! A little crafty online research will help you nab this for $17 which is insane value. Go here. 

Sunday, 6 February 2022

De Iuliis Limited Release Chardonnay 2018


Peachy! Some engaging depth here. The oak really imparts some personality and I love it. A beautiful Hunter Valley Chardonnay.

Friday, 4 February 2022

McGuigan Wines Personal Reserve Chardonnay 2016


A Cellar Door exclusive, this Chardonnay is on the old school side of the spectrum. It's creamy with a little weight in the booty. 

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Dirt Candy The Little General 2021


A cool wine this. I'm a big fan. Made with 100% Cabernet Franc, there is not a lot of it in the Hunter let alone being made as a stand-alone variety. Well played here Daniel Payne.

Friday, 28 January 2022

John Wallace Wines Sisters Chardonnay 2021


I was recently asked what I wanted to drink more of in 2022. Among a couple of others, Hunter Valley Chardonnay was one on my list - it's so underrated. Get out there and dip your oar into this ocean of beauty. This Sisters release from a new small producer is a ripper. Get around it.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Grandis Wines Unearthed Rosé 2021


A Rosé made from Merlot that needs food by its side. There is some weight and density here. 

Friday, 21 January 2022

Dirt Candy The Falcon White Pet Nat 2021

Made with fruit sourced from a derelict vineyard, this Dirt Candy Pet Nat has some street smart textural appeal. My only gripe with Pet Nat is that it can be a lottery with how much you actually get to drink. You see, with sediment in the bottle, like this one, you need to agitate things slightly I upended this bottle twice and opened it five minutes later. I lost close to 20% as it gushed out. Sigh. But that's Pet Nat...