The Hunter Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in Australia, by 1823 some 20 acres of vineyards had already been planted. Even now some vineyards have their own roots, in modern times, due to phyloxera, vineyards are planted on root stock.
Key pioneers of the Hunter Valley Wine Country were George Wyndham of Dalwood, William Kelman at Kirkton and James King of Irrawang and amateur viticulturalist James Busby. He arrived back in the Hunter Valley from Europe with some 500 vine cuttings.
Over the years Hunter Valley Wine Country has established its own style and unique method of vinification It is famous for its long-aged Semillion and earthy elegant Shiraz. In total you can find almost 20 other varieties there as well.
Hunter Valley account for 2% of Australian wine production.
Lattitude / Altitude -32.50` / 90m
Average growing season temperature 21.7 C
Average annual rainfall 678mm
Harvest month rainfall 87mm
Principal grape varieties Semillon, Chardonay, Shiraz
Soils - Taste Wine Through Terroir
The Soil that gave the Hunter Valley its reputation is found to the south in the foothills of the Brokenback Range. Around the east side of the hills there is a strip of weathered basalt, the sign of previous volcanic activity. Low fertility restricts the vigor and gives ”minerality” to the wine.
The red volcanic soil on higher ground are very suitable for Shiraz. Medium-bodied Hunter Shiraz is often beefed-up by South Australian Shiraz, but there are many enthusiasts of authentic ”Burgundian” style – spicy, soft and earthy Shiraz.
Hunter Semillon is one of Australias classic wine styles, highly regarded by wine writers. Semillon is usually grown on white sands and loams – alluvial creek beds – on lower ground.
Grapes are picked at low sugar levels, with good acidity. They are fermented in stainless steel vats and bottled early, usually in April and May. Grassy and citrusy austere when young, but very complex – toasty honeyed mineral as they age.
HUNTER VALLEY SEMILLON
The Hunter Valley is recognised as the world’s leader in dry white wines made from Semillon. So strong is Semillon’s connection with the terroir of the Hunter Valley that the style cannot been replicated anywhere else in the world. Hunter Valley Semillon is widely regarded as Australia’s unique white wine – a style unlike all others, based on unique climatic conditions, Australian ingenuity and more than 180 years of practice.
Semillon is at its delicate best when picked early to make a wine of low alcohol. When young, it is
deliciously crisp with abundant citrus aromas. With age Hunter Valley Semillon develops unique complex toast, vanilla and honey flavours, giving it depth and richness. This remarkable wine can mature and blossom for two decades and beyond and many people believe the wines are at their best around 8-10 years after vintage.
HUNTER VALLEY SHIRAZ
Hunter Valley Shiraz (known as Hermitage or Burgundy until the late 1970s) has established itself as one of Australia’s great red wine styles. It is a food friendly wine of medium body that, much like Hunter Valley Semillon, reflects its origin.
Hunter Valley Shiraz wines made in the 1940s and 50s by the legendary Maurice O’Shea at McWilliams and Hector Tulloch at Tulloch are still drinking well at the turn of the 21st century and are highly sought after and widely regarded as some of the best wines ever made in Australia.
According to Australia’s pre-eminent wine writer Huon Hooke, tasting some of these old Hunter
Valley reds in 2005, “Was a reminder of what great ageing wines Hunter Valley Shiraz’s can be.”
HUNTER VALLEY VERDELHO
Due to its natural ability to withstand heat and the occasional bit of rain, Verdelho has become a natural
partner to the Hunter Valley and its wines are growing in importance in the Valley. Hunter Valley Verdelho is a naturally full-bodied, fruit driven style of wine that is becoming increasingly popular with Australian wine lovers.
HUNTER VALLEY CHARDONNAY
From those origins the story of modern Australian Chardonnay really begins. Nowadays, Chardonnay in
the Hunter Valley is a white variety of great importance with several producers making some of Australia’s finest styles.