Lifestyle

Top tips for a fine old time on the Hunter wine

The picturesque rural setting of the Hunter Valley.
The picturesque rural setting of the Hunter Valley. Shirley Sinclair

IT'S amazing what you remember after a day on the plonk.

While in the Hunter Valley's Pokolbin area recently on a GoDo.com.au and travel.com.au holiday, I drank in the knowledge of viticulturalists, cellar door managers and wine buffs alike on a tour with Bradley Garrett's Hunter Valley Vine Link.

Even after imbibing at several wineries, I managed to come away with gems of quaffing advice, the good oil on specific drops, and fascinating insights into the wine-making process.

Here are a few tips:

 

Glasses

Use crystal ones as they roughen the texture of the wine and release the flavour.

Those with a large surface area are best (even though competition glasses are smaller).

 

Pouring

Pour wine to a max of 30% of the glass.

Hungerford Hill cellar door sales and executive presenter Craig Lovett says aroma is 80% of the taste and the aroma stays when you don't fill it too much.

 

Ying and yang

Balance also applies to food and wine. If you eat hot and spicy food, buy a sweet wine.

 

Sparkling chardonnays

Are good palate cleansers.

 

Hunter Valley harvest

The Australia Day weekend marked the start of the Hunter Valley harvest, which sees pinot, semillon, chardonnay and verdelho picked first.

The reds are picked from the second or third week in February and the harvest continues through to the third week in March.

Many Hunter wineries bring grapes from all over Australia so they can produce more types of wine than from those grapes that only grow locally.

This also helps when the region has difficult growing seasons: it can still use quality fruit from an area that has fared better.

 

The best time to taste wine

About 10am, when the palate is freshest.

 

First Creek

First Creek's John Earl.
First Creek's John Earl.

Cellar door manager John Earl says, "We don't grow grapes. Our winemaking is our resume."

And the quality of that resume can be seen in the fact First Creek's Liz Jackson was 2011 winemaker of the year in the Hunter.

This winemaking service creates drops for 30 companies from 1000 tonnes of grapes a year. Its biggest client is Tulloch Wines.

It also produces about 13 million bottles for 130 companies and has a small boutique label.

Semillon is the wine of the valley, and John says of the 2011 First Creek Semillon, "If you don't like this one, you probably don't like semillon."

The crisp citrus flavours with a clean, steely finish are especially good with seafood.

First Creek winemaking service makes Australia's largest-selling verdelho - a hot-climate variety for Tulloch ideal with spicy Asian food.

As for shiraz, John says that at $45 a bottle, the 2011 Winemakers Reserve Shiraz will get better with age and keep for 20 years.

"That shiraz was perfect when it was picked. It's $45 but will go to $60."

But his favourite everyday shiraz is the 2010 (medium to full-bodied with aromas of spice, blackberries and fine integrated tannins) at $25.

"That was a good year, a great wine, beautiful flavour," he says.

"A good example of Hunter Valley shiraz where the year wasn't too wet."

 

Poole's Rock

The 2009 Chardonnay is the signature drop and considered to be one of the best in Australia.

Usher Tinkler is a third-generation winemaker with French connections that come in handy for everything from wine barrels to wine production.

He has a selection of his own French wines in the fine wine section of Dan Murphys.

Our presenter Drew says dusty, earthy tones in shiraz is a Hunter Valley trait.

He classes the 2007 Poole's Rock Shiraz we taste as a classic HV shiraz from 120-year-old vines, the oldest on the estate.

Drew says pinots need a really cool climate to grow and Poole's Rock gets its grapes from Tasmania's Tamar Valley.

The fruit is transported over three to four days. Some natural fruit displacement/crushing happens en route to the Hunter but is then crushed on the premises.

The Cockfighter's Ghost Premium Reserve Pinot Noir is $25 but as Brad Garrett says, "You'd be happy to pay $50 for it."

Light, summery, soft and elegant, it can be chilled.

Hungerford Hill drops.
Hungerford Hill drops.

HELPFUL WEBSITES

 

>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  alcohol holiday hunter valley lifestyle travel wine



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Life devoted to Ipswich veterans

Phil Gilbert's coffin passes through a guard of honour after his funeral Tuesday.

Stalwart of Ipswich RSL farewelled

Brendon McCullum to play T20 cricket for Ipswich

COUP: New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum to play T20 cricket for Ipswich-Logan Hornets.

New Zealand legend to inspire young Hornets on Sunday

'Fuming': Graduation two ticket limit has parents upset

A post on Goodna State School's Facebook Page reminding parents only guests with tickets would be allowed into the graduation ceremony.

Parents at Goodna State School are fuming and confused.

Local Partners

FLOOD RISK: Mayors launch plan to protect $260M industry

A COMPREHENSIVE plan to deal with the flood risk to rivers and lakes in the Lockyer Valley has been launched.


Top 5 Christmas events around Ipswich

The Twighlight Christmas Parade was just the first of many events around the region.

THERE are plenty of exciting Christmas activities coming up.

It's official, Christmas has started in Ipswich

TIS THE SEASON: Plenty of families got into the holiday spirit at the Christmas Twilight Parade.

PHOTOS: Annual Twilight Parade draws hundreds, more events to come

What's on this weekend

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

Things to do in Ipswich

David Beckham's tattoos come to life for UNICEF campaign

David Beckham has called for an end to violence against children

Pop star Liam Payne's Facebook hacked with porn

"Things that can happen to you when you don't have sex."

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather during his childhood.

Leo designs shocker tattoo for Tom Hardy after lost bet

Leonardo DiCaprio has designed a new tattoo for Tom Hardy

Hollywood star at home on the Coffs Coast

FEELING LUCKY, SON?: Scott Eastwood visited the Coffs Coast

Guess which Hollywood star has been seen around the Coffs Coast?

Ricky Gervais: There's 'no point' marrying Jane Fallon

RICKY Gervais "doesn't see the point" in marrying Jane Fallon.

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

PHOTOS: World class CBD to lift Ipswich

An artist's impressions of the future Ipswich city mall.

Grand plans to transform city heart unveiled today

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Couple's desperate $550K price drop to sell Gladstone home

Brian Headley and Kirstene Staib are selling their Kin Kora mansion for $750,000.

TELL tale sign of Gladstone's property market.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!