Hunter Valley Wine Country, Around Hermitage, Pokolbin

“Restaurants and consumers need to wake up to the fact there are excellent vintages coming out of NSW and ACT – and some of the best-value wine in Australia.

Of course, NSW has a lot of great wine and the Hunter Valley still leads the charge, thanks to its sheer weight of winery and brand numbers, as much as its proud history. Hunter Valley semillon and shiraz are two of Australia’s greatest wine styles, even if the punters do not love them. The 2011 and 2013 vintages will provide plenty of top examples of both, and – stop the press – Lindemans, silent for years in the Hunter Valley, is about to launch a new range of wines.

The great names to look for here are Tyrrell’s, Lakes Folly, Mount Pleasant, Brokenwood, Audrey Wilkinson, Peppertree and Hungerford Hill, to which we can add the more recently established Thomas Wines, De Iuliis, First Creek and Meerea Park.

The latest newbies to make an impact are Leogate Estate and Tinkler’s, the first based on the former Rothbury Estate vineyard, Brokenback, and the latter a family business now occupying the full attention of young Usher Tinkler, feted former winemaker at Poole’s Rock. Other proven performers are Allandale, Gartelmann, Keith Tulloch, McLeish Estate, Margan, Scarborough, Tulloch Wines and Two Rivers.

Semillon and shiraz are the specialties, verdelho is the crowd-pleasing white quaffer, and chardonnay has proven itself in the hands of a few – Lakes Folly, Tyrrell’s, Scarborough and Mistletoe – but alternative varieties have mostly failed to produce interesting results. Stick with the tried and tested ones.”

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