A Point of Difference | Hunter Valley Flagship Wines
The Hunter Valley (one of the longest-established wine regions and the most significant for New South Wales) is renowned for having a talented list of winemakers who are at the forefront of their profession and for producing some of the world's best and most distinctive wines – in particular, Semillon and Shiraz which are the hallmark of this region.
The most recognisable of these is Hunter Valley Semillon – the Hunter Valley's flagship variety and a truly outstanding wine in terms of quality and taste with a style that has not been replicated anywhere else in the world.
Other varieties grown include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Verdelho, which have all produced great Hunter wines. The region is also home to a talented list of winemakers who are at the forefront of innovative and new varieties that include Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Chambourcin and Sangiovese, amongst others.
The term' Signature' or 'Flagship' wine does not have a specific definition within the wine industry, so there are no rules dictating how a winery, or a region for that matter, chooses their flagship wine or even if they have one.
For many, signature wines are wine brands with a unique and memorable history, a point of difference that makes them easily recognisable in the market. These wines have their own identity and stand out from their competitors. An excellent example is Tyrrells' Vat 1 Semillon – an aristocratic wine first produced in 1963 and considered Australia's best Semillon.
Signature wines are also wines that reflect the typical style of the person who has made it, wines coveted by wine lovers and collectors alike – such as Mount Pleasant's acclaimed single vineyard Lovedale Semillon and the highly awarded Maurice O'Shea Shiraz.
A flagship wine does not always have to be limited to a variety. Instead, it could be a wine style (such as sparkling or Rosé) or a blend such as the Lakes Folly Cabernet Blend – an elegant, medium-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Shiraz and the most collected Cabernet in Australia.
Like Shiraz in Australia, countries worldwide have their own flagship wine varieties and styles. Whether iconic, historical, or popular, these wines make up a part of each country's unique wine identity. For South Africa, it's Chenin Blanc and the unique red variety Pinotage. In Argentina, it's Malbec; in Chile, it's Cabernet Sauvignon and in Italy (particularly Tuscany), it's Sangiovese. For the major Spanish wine regions, it's Tempranillo, and in the Rias Baixas region, it's Albarino. In California (USA), it's Zinfandel which also happens to be home to some of the oldest Zinfandel wines in the world. Bordeaux is France's most famous wine region and the reference point for Cabernet Sauvignon. The Douro in the north of Portugal is the country's flagship red-wine region, but while it is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, it's more famous for its production of Port wine.
Closer to home, the flagship variety for the Swan Valley is Verdelho, and South Australia's Clare Valley is better known for its Riesling. In the Yarra Valley and the Tamar Valley in Tasmania, the flagship variety is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
At the end of the day, these flagship varieties serve to attract consumers to a winery and to experience all the other varieties on offer in the region at the tasting.
What is common to all flagship wines is that they are all wines of exceptional quality – wines that reflect the characteristics specific to the winemaker's vineyard. A wine that reflects a good example of the style and embodies the grape varietal and region in which it was grown.