The annual Hunter Valley Wine Show has concluded and this year shiraz proved the star, with its medal tally just pipping semillon.
Of the more than 700 wines sent in for judging, there were 47 gold medals. Top performers were Mount Pleasant (with a spate of trophies for its 1880 Vines Shiraz 2017) and Tyrrell’s (dominating the semillon category with its Belford Semillon 2013). First Creek Wines also did well with its Reserve Chardonnay, taking home trophies for its 2015 and 2017.
Former Halliday Winemaker of the Year Sarah Crowe was this year’s Chair of Judges. As an ex-Hunter Valley local she has a solid knowledge of the region’s wine styles, and saw the 2017 class of shiraz as being something special. “It stole the hearts of the judges,” she said. “Teasing out the top wines was very difficult, and full respect goes to the winemakers who showed restraint with oak and bottled their wines so bright and fresh. These are the wines collectors should seek out for cellaring.”
From the whites, 2013 examples from the museum class of semillon were said by Sarah to be “very strong”, but, as always, a range of vintages showed promise with time in the bottle, reaffirming the singularity of Hunter semillon as one Australia’s great collectable wine styles.
While shiraz, semillon and chardonnay are Hunter Valley classics, the judging panel also picked up a few less-discussed varietals to watch out for in the future of the region’s wines, with fiano being a particular highlight, as well as verdelho seeing a “return to form”.