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



Bluebell the puppy farm dog looking for a new home

PUPPY FARM: Bluebell was among some of the dogs seized from a Glenarbon property where an alleged puppy farm was uncovered.

She is among 17 animals the RSPCA has rehabilitated

How Lockyer veggies could feed two nations

FRESH FOOD: Javier Saldana chats with Lockyer Valley Growers Group president Michael Sippel. The region is gearing up for international exports.

"There are many more mouths to feed over there than there is here"

WARNING: 'Sardine city' is on Ipswich's horizon

CONCERNED: The implications of the State's move to denser housing developments has Cr David Pahlke up in arms.

But Antoniolli says council can manage State's denser housing edict

Local Partners

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

DARIUS McCrary, who played Eddie Winslow on the ’90s sitcom Family Matters, has been accused of holding his infant daughter over a pot of boiling water.

Bindi Irwin's birthday tribute to her dad

Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin has paid tribute to her dad on his 55th birthday

Reality TV show gives Maryborough a boost

*WARNING EMBARGOED until 9.15pm Monday January 30* Sean Hollands and Susan Rawlings pictured after their wedding on the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Maryborough looks good on reality TV show.

Your guide to a great night out in Ipswich

Airlie Beach Festival of Music 2016 / Andrew Pattinson / Vampp Photography

Check out the city's live music scene here

Buderim dad rejects gay son's emotional plea for second time

LOVERS: Grant and Chris have been together for more than three years, and Chris' parents refuse to acknowledge their son's fiance.

Son’s emotional plea rejected again by unmoved father

What's on the big screen this week

Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller in a scene from the movie T2: Trainspotting.

This week's new releases offer plenty of variety for movie buffs.

Nashville singer Craig Campbell to star at CMC Rocks

READY TO PLAY: US country musician Craig Campbell said he couldn't wait to head Down Under again for CMC Rocks.

US singer set to play live to Aussie crowds

WARNING: 'Sardine city' is on Ipswich's horizon

CONCERNED: The implications of the State's move to denser housing developments has Cr David Pahlke up in arms.

But Antoniolli says council can manage State's denser housing edict

Grand re-launch for new Nolan's Corner

GRAND PARTY: Wayne Kemp and Angela Love from Poison Arrow, Eliza Woodruffe from Limestone Emporium, Tess Claris from Voice Hair and Beauty and Kim Schubel from Schudio will all be at the grand launch party.

A feat worth celebrating

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

The suburb where house, land prices are spiking

ON THE RISE: 13 Kallatina Terrace, Karalee will go to auction on March 31. Karalee house prices went up 9.9% in the past year.

"It has good hospitals, universities and schools."

$1b Springfield development deadline brought forward

Aveo's Springfield development is running ahead of schedule.

The majority of interest has come from local buyers

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!