Flagship Wines of the Hunter
The Hunter Valley is renowned for having a talented list of winemakers at the forefront of their profession and producing some of the world's best and most distinctive wines – particularly Semillon and Shiraz, the region's hallmark.
Other varieties grown include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Verdelho, which have all produced great Hunter wines.
The term ’Signature’ or ‘Flagship’ wine does not have a specific definition within the wine industry, so no rules dictate how a winery, or a region for that matter, chooses their flagship wine or even if they have one.
For many, these are wines that reflect the typical style of the person who has made it, wines coveted by wine lovers and collectors alike (think Mount Pleasant’s acclaimed single-vineyard Lovedale Semillon and the highly awarded Maurice O’Shea Shiraz).
Some winemakers are concerned that selecting an iconic wine will limit them, but this is not usually the case. The reasoning is that a winery needs to have an iconic wine to enable consumers to differentiate and recognise the winery. An excellent example of this is Tyrrells’ Vat 1 Semillon – an aristocratic wine first produced in 1963 and considered Australia's best Semillon.
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 – a medium-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Shiraz and the most collected Cabernet in Australia.
This same principle also applies to wine-growing regions throughout the world, with some wine regions receiving global recognition for producing excellent wines amongst certain varieties.
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, its fame has historically been due to it being the home of Port.
Bordeaux is France's most famous wine region and the reference point for Cabernet Sauvignon. For South Africa, it’s Chenin Blanc and the unique red variety Pinotage. In Argentina, it’s Malbec; for Chile, it’s Cabernet Sauvignon; in Italy (particularly Tuscany), it’s Sangiovese, and for the major Spanish wine regions, it’s Tempranillo.
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 also 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 experience all the other varieties on offer in the region.