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



200,000th resident unveiled in Ipswich population boom

MILESTONE: Megan Sabburg of South Ripley is Ipswich's 200,000th resident and her young son Jackson is the 200,001st.

South Ripley mum gets the honour as city targets 520,000 in 2041

How the city's population is actually measured

Deputy Mayor Paul Tully, councillors Kerry Silver and Andrew Antoniolli and Mayor Paul Pisasale welcome the 200,000th Ipswich resident Megan Sabburg and son Jackson.

Wheelie reliable way to track city's growth

Ipswich model to 'make history' in New York

Model Madeline Stuart now has a visa to live and work in New York City. Photo Contributed

"I am now officially a professional. New York here I come."

Local Partners

Spy trio hitting studio in 2017

GUITAR POP: Brisbane three-piece Dave is a Spy is made up of Fin Taylor, Sarah Bellamy and James Halpert.

Brisbane three-piece set for second EP

Your chance to drive like Magnum P.I.

Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. with his trusty 'side-kick' Ferrari.

FERRARI that appeared on classic detective show goes to auction.

Ocean Sleeper discuss being 'Six Feet Down'.

Ocean Sleeper make waves with their new EP. Photo Contributed

Gippsland band shines at Unify

Bowie's final music EP No Plan released

NEW: Artwork for David Bowie's posthumous 2016 EP, No Plan.

David Bowie's 28th and final album

Married At First Sight: Ipswich bachelor seeks love

READY FOR IT: Ipswich man Simon McQuillan will appear on the upcoming new season of Married At First Sight.

Romance would top off recovery for Booval man

Dinky-di Denyer: Family Feud favourite hosts Oz Day party

Grant Denyer will host Channel 10's Australia Day concert from the Sydney Opera House.

GRANT Denyer shares his Australia Day traditions ahead of concert.

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Sunday auction for historical home

Former Catholic school sure to attract spirited bidding

Looking back, looking ahead in Noosa

NEVER-ENDING GLORY: Looking towards Laguna Bay and Hastings St from Noosa National Park.

Natural appeal of Noosa continues to attract buyers

NEW: ALDI confirms opening date of seventh Ipswich store

NEW STORE: Aldi will soon open its seventh store in Ipswich.

Aldi is preparing to open its seventh store in Ipswich

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!