I recently returned from an epic Christmas/New Year trip to Australia, Fiji and New Zealand – hence the radio silence – and it wasn’t without a wine tasting or three.
One particular highlight was a day trip to the Hunter Valley from Sydney which we organised ourselves (some of the group tour operators can be so expensive). The day before we went we simply contacted a local Avis, hired a car and bought ourselves a map.
A two-hour drive north of Sydney is all it takes to find yourself surrounded by rolling vineyards with a winery at every turn. One of Australia’s most well-known wine regions, the Hunter Valley is famous for wines produced from Semillon and Shiraz grapes, and most wineries offer cellar door wine tastings and vineyard tours.
We managed to squeeze four winery visits and a picnic into our day. Here’s who we went to see.
Mount View Estate is an award-winning winery based in the Mount View mountain range. Producing wines grown from 45 year old vines on rich, volcanic soils, the highlights for me included its enticing selection of whites, such as the elegant 2015 Reserve Chardonnay and fresh 2016 V Series Verdelho.
Established in 2006 by the Burton family, Gundog produces premium single vineyard wines from the Hunter Valley and Canberra regions. Named after the family’s gundog Karl Marx, the winery produces an incredibly aromatic 2016 Wild Semillon and medium-bodied, savoury 2015 Hunter’s Shiraz.
Probably the most recognisable name of the bunch – Mcguigan – was our third visit of the day. With a delicious cheese shop next door serving tasting plates, the cellar door tasting team offers samples of a wide selection of varieties, such as the ripe, citrussy The Shortlist Riesling.
Our final stop was at Audrey Wilkinson which had to be my favourite visit of the day. Founded in 1866 by the Wilkinson family, this state of the art winery sits atop a gorgeous hillside in Pokolbin and produces everything from the luscious and spritzy 2016 Winemakers Selection Moscato to the rich, cherried 2014 The Lake Shiraz.
You can stock up on Gundog’s Smoking Barrel Red at The Oxford Wine Company, Waitrose stocks a small parcel of the very delicious Audrey Wilkinson Chardonnay for £14.99 and Mcguigan wines are widely available throughout the UK.
Stay tuned to hear all about Waiheke Island!