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Wine Companion Summer 2014

It’s a good time to be a Hunter Valley winemaker. Shrugging off a reputation for being one of the harder places in Australia to grow grapes, the Hunter Valley has just experienced two great vintages on the trot, with 2013 to be a serious good ‘n and 2014 regarded as exceptional.

What’s more, this has also come at a time when South Australia and Victoria have struggled through two somewhat challenging vintages (to make a broad generalisation), with 2014 rather tricky indeed.

All of which means that the Hunter is in a prime position to pounce – and the Hunter winemakers know it. So, if you have a passing interest at all in seriously refreshing low alcohol white wines or wonderfully savoury, medium bodied red wines, then Hunter Valley Semillon (plus Chardonnay) and Shiraz from 2013 and 2014 should be very high on your drinking agenda.

Top Hunter red: De Iuliis Shiraz Touriga 2013

De-iuliis-Shiraz-2013(Hunter Valley, NSW) Screwcap, $40

Mike De Iuliis is the only producer in the Hunter with Touriga Nacional (the Portugese fortified grape) in production and, on this showing, not for long. A trophy winner though only recently released.

That Touriga fragrance makes this all that more pretty and inviting, the polished palate capped off with fine grained tannins. Love the foil of lifted Touriga to the red dirt depths of Hunter Shiraz.

Drink: 2014 – 2024
Would I Buy it?: Yes
Score: 94/100

Really smart.

Top Hunter white: Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay 2013

Tyrell's Wines Hunter Chardonnay(Hunter Valley, NSW) Screwcap, 13.5%

This is currently for sale only through the cellar door and the Tyrrell’s mailing list. Judging by the quality I’d suggest it’s worth the extra effort to secure some.

It’s a superb modern Hunter Chardonnay; marries the butternut pumpkin oak and leesy richness of the nose with a dry, refreshing palate. Archetypal stuff that takes its lemony acid profile from Hunter Semillon, but generosity of Chardonnay.

Drink: 2014 – 2024
Would I Buy it?: Absolutely
Score: 93/100

Still a full tilt style, though, needing only an extra year or so in the bottle to fully resolve.

For the Cellar: Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz 2013

Tyrrell's wines - Hunter shiraz(Hunter Valley, NSW) Screwcap, 13%

The second Tyrrell’s wine in this list and another cellar door exclusive. The 2013 vintage is showing to be an absolute stunner in the Hunter, with this easily the picks of the new Tyrrell’s.

Another incredibly fine Tyrrell’s red. Quite a contrast compared to the Old Patch which was sitting alongside this one and looked soft and simple in comparison. The joy here is the tannins, which are grippy and meaty, coupling perfectly with the beautiful purple fruit. This was utterly delicious – perhaps a bit firm and bold to be a ‘Hunter Burgundy’ and more like the beautiful old Lindemans style of the 80s.

Drink: 2013 – 2020
Would I Buy it?: I’m going to
Score: 95/100

Excellent. My wine of the tasting at a recent giant Hunter winefest.

Something different: Eloquesta Shiraz Petit Verdot 2011

eloquista-Shiraz-2011(Mudgee, NSW) 14.5%, Screwcap, $32

It’s not from the Hunter, but just over the hill in Mudgee where this intriguing red hails from. It’s another charismatic wine from Stuart Olsen, this time a blend of whole bunch Shiraz and Petit Verdot. Here we see the full kitchen sink of ‘neo-revivalist’ winemaking tinkery at work, with the handpicked grapes foot trodden with whole bunches included in the blend, the wine wild fermented, hand plunged and aged in French, Russian and Hungarian oak for 18 months with no racking. Great to see someone is ‘having a go’ in Mudgee, and this looks happily alive too.

Bright maroon purple colour, the nose here is wild with whole bunch pepper, prosciutto and purple fruit, which follows onto a quite generous and luscious palate that carries much more flesh than the nose, the sappy tannins contrasting that purple fruit before finishing with an almost peacock tail like lift. There’s some of that smudgy Mudgee grittiness here, which takes the sweet edge off and makes for a quite tertiary, ultra spicy, style yet still with intrigue, weight and complexity. This is unconventional and polarising, the nose particularly so, but the quality is sound

Drink: 2014 – 2024
Would I Buy it?: A few glasses would about do me. It’s just a bit wild for much more, but the style would keep me entertained.
Score: 93/100

Big yes and a round of applause for really exploring what Mudgee can do.

Andrew Graham

Andrew Graham2009/10 WCA Wine Journalism ‘Young Gun; Wine Judge; Gourmet Traveller WINE and Breathe Hunter Valley magazine contributor; LattéLife columnist; National Liquor News Tasting panellist and Chablis lover who fell into the liquor industry chiefly to buy cheap beer. Over a decade later and I’m still here, now studying towards a Masters of Wine Technology and Viticulture, and still spending all my money on beer and wine.

For more reviews visit my site the Australian Wine Review at which is dedicated to talking about my obsession – everything vinous…

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