Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley was originally planted with vineyards owing to its proximity to Sydney and, at first glance, convenience would appear to be its only positive attribute. The climate seems all wrong for the survival, never mind the flourishing, of vines but something mysterious is at work here. The French would call it terroir and feel the need for no more explanation. For the Hunter Valley, which is divided into Upper and Lower sections, can be all things to all drinkers, routinely producing everything from very good everyday wines to the truly extraordinary.

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Vines and Styles

Both red and white wines are produced in the Hunter Valley and each colour has its own shining star.  Semillon makes good dessert wines but is at its best when dry, so much so that it is widely considered to be the finest expression of that grape anywhere in the world.  From the top producers it will need a minimum of five years in the bottle to fulfil its potential.  The finest red wines are made from Shiraz, which becomes a rich and textured wine with age.

Chardonnay, ever adaptable, has made itself at home here and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also successful.

Climate and Conditions

On the surface everything seems wrong.  Heat, humidity and rain that falls at the most inconvenient times can be banked on every year, but instead of mouldy, shrivelled grapes the Hunter Valley consistently produces excellent fruit for remarkable wines.  This is because the problems are offset by some very helpful climatic conditions.  Afternoon cloud cover, cooling sea breezes and free-draining clay soils somehow drag magic from the jaws of disaster.

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