Located in New South Wales less than two hours drive north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest producing wine region, with vines first planted in the 1820’s.
The region comprises the upper and lower areas of the Hunter Valley, which are linked by the Hunter River. The majority of the vineyards in the lower Hunter Valley are situated on the southern side of a valley nestled into the foothills of the Brokenback Range.
The region experiences high temperatures during summer, with the majority of rainfall occurring between January and April.
In addition to hot days, the Hunter Valley has relatively warm nights when the physiological processes that ripen fruit can continue. The days are also quite humid, reducing moisture stress and allowing the leaves to keep their pores open longer during hot weather. This allows photosynthesis and growth to continue when, in drier air, it would not.
Hunter Valley Semillon is a world benchmark wine and the stellar white variety in the region. Semillon is at its delicate best when picked early to make a wine of ten to 11.5% alcohol and almost invariably has ripe flavours at low sugar concentrations. This is the style of wine that best responds to bottle age, during which it develops outstanding lemon curd and toasty complexity and becomes barely recognisable from its demure beginning. Most companies release their Semillons when only a few months old when they are crisp and lively with a light body and fresh, lemony and grassy fruit. A few keep some wines for bottle-maturation and release after five years or more when they have deepened in colour, become rounder and softer in the mouth and developed the most brilliantly complex flavours of vanilla and buttered toast.
Tough growing conditions mean the Hunter Valley imprints its regional stamp on Shiraz wines. The typical young Hunter Valley Shiraz is a medium bodied wine showing red and dark berries, spices and plenty of soft tannin. It is quite deceptive, as the best can age for a considerable time, more than their constitution often suggests. With bottle-age, it becomes much more complex, with earthy, leathery overtones and a beautiful perfume. It also acquires a silkiness and grace, becoming a smooth, wonderfully complex and richly flavoured wine.
Hunter Valley wine makers produce quality wines of several varieties, finding their real strength in Semillon and Shiraz with distinctive and delightful Chardonnay, Verdelho and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
Acknowledgement: Wine Australia