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 and 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:



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).



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.



>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  alcohol holiday hunter valley lifestyle travel wine

Family of Dreamworld victims speak out about tragic deaths

Shayne Goodchild (right), father of Dreamworld accident victims Luke Dorsett and Kate Goodchild, and Kate Goodchild's partner David Turner read out a statement to the media at the National Carillion in Canberra. Photo: AAP

Shayne Goodchild speaks on the deaths of his two children

Bank, supermarket among business targeted in bomb threats

Police generic.  Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily

Detectives continue hunt for female suspect

Police call for CCTV footage after woman's body found

Detectives have declared a crime scene after finding a woman's body.

Local Partners

Workmates honour crash victim with tribute

UPDATE: Tanya Lyell is being remembered as a young mother dedicated to her family and work as the town she called home mourns its loss.

Where to trick or treat in Ipswich this Halloween

Plenty of kids will be dressing up again this year.

HERE are some of the streets ready to celebrate

Things to do this weekend

ON STAGE: Dragon play the Ipswich Civic Centre tonight.

See an Oz rock icon, take in a play, or visit a musuem

WATCH: NASA space station is live, see the view from above

In this picture taken from NASA's International Space Station from April 2015, the SpaceX Dragon is captured with the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm before its installation to the Harmony module.

See the world from a new perspective as space station passes Rocky

Mariah Carey and James Packer discussing relationship

Mariah Carey and James Packer are discussing how to work things out

January Jones: Take time away from your phone

January Jones needs time away from her phone

Mel C won't return to Spice Girls for daughter

MEL C is adamant she won't reunite with the Spice Girls

60's British rock legends to return to Australia

The Troggs will play a string of dates across Australia in November.  Photo Contributed

We all remember 'Wild Thing' and now you can hear it live.

Depp jumps ship from agency of 25 years

Johnny Depp has signed to CAA after 25 years with the United

Orlando Bloom 'buried' Katy Perry in birthday flowers

Orlando Bloom "buried" Katy Perry in flowers for her birthday

Want to own one of Australia's best restaurants?

TOP GONG: Mooloolaba Spice Bar has been named in TripAdvisor's Top 10 Australian restaurants for 2016.

Here's your chance to pick up one of the Coast's favourite eateries

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Is Woolworths departure good news for Ipswich CBD?

Artist impression of the Ipswich Mall for the rejuvenation project to be undertaken by Ipswich City Properties

Council is on track to release a detailed plan before December

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!