Peter Bourne
25 August 2017 | Wine Reviews, Wine Reviews - Barbera | Peter Bourne

The Best of the Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley wine BarberaMargan Breaking Ground Barbera

With their refreshing take on wine and food, Andrew and Lisa Margan are the king and queen of Broke. Their barbera exudes blueberry and riberry fruits, with a pleasing balance of acid and tannin. Pair it with the pork belly on their restaurant’s menu.




Wine expert Peter Bourne tastes the wine and explores the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales.

The Hunter valley is Australia’s oldest wine region, dating back to the 1820s. The rollcall of pioneers in the area began with William Kelman, the brother-in-law of James Busby, whose 500 European vine cuttings kickstarted the country’s wine industry. In 1843, Dr Henry Lindeman became the first of several winegrowing doctors in the region, with the dynasties of the Draytons (1853), Tyrrells (1858) and Tullochs (1895) following in his wake. Today, you’re likely to be poured a glass of semillon or shiraz by their descendants.

Both varieties have found a special place in the Hunter Valley’s warm maritime and subtropical climate. Young semillon is tight, lean, spicy and unburdened by oak. Semillon ages (for up to 30 years) into a rich yet refreshing white with honey and marmalade flavours. Its alter ego, shiraz, is typically medium-bodied here, with an earthy, savoury style. Hunter shiraz from top vintages (2011, 2014 and, potentially, 2017) mellows out after five, 10 and many more years.

The Hunter Valley is right on Sydney’s doorstep so a daytrip is possible (but after a couple of glasses of 10-year-old semillon, who wants to drive home?). Its cellar doors are geared towards both the frivolous and serious wine-lover. Some have reserved members-only areas, including Tyrrell’s, Tulloch and Brokenwood. There are also lots of small, friendly cellar doors such as David Hook, Gartelmann, McLeish Estate, Usher Tinkler and Tallavera Grove. And don’t overlook the Broke Fordwich subregion, where Margan’s terrific produce-driven restaurant is just down the road from Krinklewood’s biodynamic vineyard. 

Semillon and shiraz remain the heroes but it’s worth remembering that Australia’s love of chardonnay was instigated by Hunter Valley winemaker Murray Tyrrell in the early 1970s and, a decade earlier, Dr Max Lake had planted cabernet sauvignon. Today, there’s the new wave of Mediterranean varieties, with Tintilla embracing sangiovese, David Hook having success with pinot grigio and barbera and Andrew Margan venturing towards Spain with tempranillo, graciano and albarino. The region is amazingly diverse, mixing old and new, traditional and modern. You’re in for a surprise.

Read the original article at Travel Insider Qantas


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