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HUNTER VALLEY BLOG

With more than 150 wineries and cellar doors, 65 restaurants and 180 comfy accommodation places to stay, where do you start?

Follow our insider tips by the people who know best… the locals. We ask talented winemakers, chefs, farmers, brewers and journalists to blog about their favourite places and experiences in this fertile wine region.

It's time for a white wine that's full of zing - ping Andrew Thomas

It's spring, so it's time for a glass or two of zesty, zingy goodness. And that means a glass of Hunter Valley Semillon. It's a refreshing drop, full of citrusy lemon and lime flavours that's an awesome match with seafood.

When I think of Semillon it's Thomas Wines' Braemore Semillon that springs to mind. Why?

It was the first Semillon I tried that I loved from the first sip and started my Semillon fandom. I'm now a Semillon tragic. Yep, haven't met one I don't like!

That said, I like my Semillons young and crisp but if you prefer a richer white wine, they can be cellared for 20-odd years and mature into a golden, mellow, toasty drop. Mount Pleasant even re-released one earlier this year that was 31 years old! And yes… still delicious.

Winemaker Andrew Thomas is a bit of a Semillon superstar making eight different Semillons. Yes, eight #semsational Semillons. I asked him about his love of the Hunter and its signature white wine - and you can discover more about Thommo by viewing a recent video interview here.

Best thing about living in the Hunter Valley?

From a pure winemaking point of view, the Hunter gives us the opportunity to craft some uniquely regional wine styles, the best of which are absolutely world class. As a side though, the Hunter Valley is such a beautiful wine region but to a large extent it's the people who live and work here that makes it so special. To my mind, nowhere else in Australia has such a close and collaborative winemaking and wine tourism community.

Worst thing?

With most of my best mates living and/or working close by, we frequently tend to indulge in a few too many celebratory beverages. Debatable whether that's really such a bad thing, but I should probably buy some shares in Berocca.

Love Semillon much?

Clearly my winemaking is very much focused on the Hunter's signature variety, but I will admit that when I first came to the Hunter I didn't really know much about Semillon. It didn't take too long to work out that the best examples of Hunter Semillon are absolutely world class, and stand proud on the world stage when it comes to premium wine. I generally produce about eight different Semillons each year, and the key to keeping things interesting is the stylistic diversity that exists within my range. I often get asked which is my favourite, but it's a bit like choosing your favourite child – of course we all have one, but I would never tell (and it generally changes on a week-to-week basis :) . Serious answer – Braemore. Without a doubt. I'm very proud to own of one of the Hunter Valley's iconic Semillon vineyards.

And what do you say to people who won't drink white wine?

Don't drink white wine? It sucks to be you! We find that visitors to our cellar door that know very little about Hunter Semillon walk out the door with a totally positive outlook on the variety (and generally a few bottles). With so many different styles of Semillon in our range there is always at least one wine (and generally more than one) that will find its mark with our customers. For those that simply just want the reds, fortunately the other signature variety of the Hunter is Shiraz, and we do a pretty good job with that too.

What's the most quirky thing you've done to promote Hunter Valley wine?

A few years ago I got together with some of my winemaking mates (David Hook, Rhys Eather, Nick Paterson, Mike De Iuliis and Andrew Margan) to do major travelling roadshow promoting the Hunter Valley. Our group was titled 'Next Generation Hunter Valley – Not The Usual Suspects'. We did this three years in a row, travelling from Melbourne to Noosa in a 1956 Austin bus and everywhere inbetween. To be honest, the promotion was a thinly veiled excuse for a few mates to hit the road for a couple of weeks and have a lot of fun, but it was an amazing success, showcasing the Hunter Valley to a new and very enthusiastic audience.

Any hidden talents people don't know about?

I have the dubious talent of only being able produce boys. With four sons in my clan, you've gotta feel for my partner Kim with the level of testosterone in the house.

Visit Thomas Wines daily at Estate Tuscany, cnr Hermitage Road and Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin or check out thomaswines.com.au

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