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Hunter Valley Wine Varieties You Didn’t Know Existed and Where To Find Them
When it comes to Australian wines, the Hunter Valley is well known for producing excellent wines and being a beautiful destination in its own right. Some of the best wine tasting is in the Hunter Valley.
For decades wine buffs around the globe have been raving about the crisp, fresh citrus notes of the Hunter’s Semillons and Verdelhos and the light and fruity hot climate Shiraz and Merlots.
With so many high-quality wines all in the one place, when a wine enthusiast visits the Hunter Valley they certainly feel like they have died and gone to wine heaven!
But there does come a time in every wine lovers life when we become a little tired of the usual suspects. Life is far too short to believe that few white wines exist beyond Chardonnay, Semillon and Verdelho. Similarly, reds should not be confined to Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz.
The truly exciting part about a visit to the Hunter Valley is being able to explore the many boutique wineries. These are the creative and innovative winemakers who have invented their own unique blends. In a true entrepreneurial twist, some are accidental inventions and some are deliberately borne from their creative minds. Irrespective of their origins, they are all truly delicious.
When it is time for your exhausted taste buds to become enthusiastic about wine again and try something new, head to these two boutique Hunter Valley producers for a new experience.
Ernest Hill Wines
If you were to order a bottle of Luna Spark simply based on the name you would have little idea what to expect – but that is half the fun! This delightful easy-drinking dessert wine has a subtle spritz that brings it to life.
Speaking of accidental creations, this wine is a great example. After the winemaker mistakenly double fermented a batch of Semillon, it was thought to be an expensive disaster, with around $10,000 worth of produce needing to be discarded.
The winemaker contacted the vineyard owners to deliver the bad news. However, when the owners tried the batch, prior to it being written off, they had a spark of inspiration and decided all was not lost.
After reworking the wine (the mystery bit they never share of course!) and adding some slight carbonation, a new wine was born – Luna Spark. It proved to be a popular wine and now the process forms part of their usual processes and the Luna Spark dessert wine is a staple offering at Ernest Hill wines.
If you love something a little sweet but find the average dessert wine a sugar overload for your palate (that destroys everything else you try to taste) then you will love Luna Spark. The sweetness and the spritz are quite subtle so it makes the perfect companion to a slice of lemon meringue pie or whatever your sweet vice might be.
Winemaker’s tip: When you try the Luna Spark, don’t make the mistake of swirling the wine in the glass, like we do many other wines. Even just one swirl can knock the subtle “bubble” out of the wine which completely ruins the effect.
It’s a great wine for sharing amongst friends. Because of the effervescence, it must be consumed reasonably quickly. If you leave it to the next day, the wine will be flat. It’s a good excuse to pour another glass (if you need an excuse!).
Tamburlaine Organic Wines
The names of the wines at Tamburlaine Organic Wines are indeed unique.
Scarlett Bubbles is another slightly sweet bubbly but with more effervescence than Ernest Hill’s Luna Spark (think more along the lines of your traditional sparkling wine).
What sets this drop apart from the rest is the dash of real raspberry juice added to the sparkling rose that makes this wine. This sparkling wine is the perfect way to delight your guests at any special occasion. So, rather than breaking out the boring old “blanc de blanc” style sparkling wine, why not add some life to your party with this cheeky little number!
If reds are more your style but you prefer something light, then Tamburlaine’s 2016 GSM might be just what you are looking for. Despite the name sounding more like the grading of printing paper or the frequency previously used for mobile phones, GSM refers to the constituent grape varieties present in the wine which are Grenache, Shiraz and Merlot.
I really love Grenache thanks to its soft tannins and cherry flavour. When it is combined with Shiraz and Merlot it shapes a light red with a fascinating spice finish that will make your taste buds curious for more.
A wine such as this that has a low tannin structure is usually a hit with women especially. The female palate is more sensitive to the bitter flavours of tannins (released from the skins of the grapes when they are crushed) so if you are looking for a red wine to delight a dinner party with predominately female guests then this wine is your friend.
No matter what gender you are there is nothing stopping you from enjoying a big, bold and gutsy red. If this is more your style then bring on the Full House. All of our powerful red friends are invited to join the party in this wine – Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
It certainly is a Full House as the name suggests. Combine them with the flavour of French oak and you have a powerful red that makes the perfect accompaniment to a robust beef stew or T-bone steak. A fattier meat will complement the bolder tannin structure nicely in this wine.
This handful of wines is just a small sampling of the exciting unique wine offerings that you can find in the Hunter Valley. When you take the time to discover hidden gems such as these you’ll never get bored of the age-old pastime of enjoying a bottle (or two!) of vino with friends.
Best wine tasting Hunter Valley
The Hunter is an incredible destination to visit in its own right. With gorgeous natural beauty, rolling fields of vineyards, amazing accommodation and glorious food, there’s plenty of reasons to go, even if you are not a wine drinker. The best advice I can give though when doing a wine tasting or even indulging in the variety of long lunches that are on offer here is to go on a tour. Having to be the designated driver can be a real downer in this area so having someone else drive for you makes such a difference.
If you are also keen to discover some other unique Hunter Valley flavours such as Sweet and Luverly, Luna Rouge or Quartet or other unknown wines then this is also an amazing way to find them.? To see what other hidden gems you can find, check out Hunter Valley Insider.com Not only will they seek out the unique and boutique wineries, but they will showcase the very best that the Hunter Valley has on offer, supporting locally owned businesses as much as they can.
Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.