The formula is simple enough: just two ingredients, really.
Take some of the oldest vines in Australia from vineyards with magnificent pedigree, and then add world-class winemaking talent into the mix - bingo!
Welcome to Hunter Valley Wine Country.
For years the Hunter has boasted it is the oldest winemaking region in Australia and you can understand why we’re justifiably proud of that heritage, but it doesn’t highlight the finesse and quality of the wines coming from the region.
We believe – and call us biased if you will – that Hunter wines have never been better. Wines that can shine in any company, anywhere, any time.
Whatever yardstick you want to use… quality, value, ageing potential, drinkability, food matching… we have it covered.
The four champion varieties of the region have been, and continue to be, Shiraz, Semillon, Chardonnay and Verdelho.
But there’s a whole lot more to 21st century Hunter wine than that. Strap yourself in for a quick tour.
You probably wouldn’t find a wine expert in the world who wouldn’t acknowledge that the Hunter Valley is the world’s best Semillon region. It’s our white wine flagship, thriving in the Hunter, especially in those dried up, sandy river beds.
Hunter Valley Semillon has lemon and lime flavours, citrusy crispness and a natural, lively acid. It can be enjoyed as a youngster on a hot day, or you can take advantage of its wonderful ageing potential – 10 years plus easily. With age you get honeyed flavours and some toasty notes. Still delicious, but very different to its youth.
And if you want something different again, quite a few wineries are producing a sweeter, off-dry style of Semillon - drinking at its easiest.
But no matter how old you like to drink your Semillon, there’s one thing you can be sure of: have it with seafood – white-fleshed fish, prawns, crab, lobster – and you’ll see it go to another level. Enjoy.
The last 15 years has seen a renaissance in Hunter Valley Chardonnay. These days there are more good examples than ever before. Did you know, for example, that a Hunter Valley Chardonnay recently took out the James Halliday Chardonnay challenge against 600 wines from all around Australia? Or that a Hunter Chardonnay has won the coveted Six Nations Challenge top wine? True.
It’s probably fair to say our Chardonnay has suffered a little because of the international acclaim of our Semillon but make no mistake, top Hunter Chardonnay is a fabulous drink in its own right. Flavours tend to be white peach and citrus, with a slatey acid. Have one on us.
This variety will never have the same standing as the other two whites, but it’s not trying to. It’s a brilliant starting wine for the occasional drinker. Flavours are bold and lively – a fruit salad in a glass. It’s not a wine to contemplate, but one to sip with friends as you relax. You’ll be surprised how quickly it disappears.
We have to be delicate here but after years of the world going through a phase for big, bold reds, the pendulum has finally swung back the other way. Today, medium-bodied reds of finesse and elegance are back in vogue. We say hallelujah, because that’s us!
Hunter Valley Shiraz is medium bodied, savoury and food friendly. It has an ease-of-drinking quality but at the same time history has shown time and again that Hunter Valley Shiraz can age for decades and are some of the most sought-after wines in Australia. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they’re not big, muscly wines… these guys have wonderful complexity.
So there’s your big four in a nutshell.
But in recent years a growing band of winemakers have been stretching their wings, and today there are a host of European varieties that are not just calling the Hunter home, they’re thriving here.
Tempranillo, the top red of Spain is showing great potential. Sangiovese, that savoury Italian red that goes so well with a wide range of foods is also well entrenched. There’s even a Portuguese variety called Touriga Nacional that is still in its early days but which certainly looks the goods. Or maybe the lighter, aromatic Barbera from Italy is more your thing?
In the whites there’s Vermentino and the bigger flavoured Fiano… both from southern Italy. They have that crispy acid freshness that is the hallmark of Hunter whites. They’re going from strength to strength.
Hunter wine? There’s diversity aplenty, from a wide range of price points – from $15 to over $300.
But remember, there’s no right or wrong. Find one you like and enjoy.