Plenty to Celebrate | Hunter Valley Boutique Winemakers Show
There was much to celebrate when the winners of the recent Hunter Valley Boutique Winemakers Show were announced on 20 October.
Described by the judges as a terrific and highly contested show, there were a total of 318 entries from 49 different wine producers with 180 wines awarded medals.
The panel of judges, led by Winemaker Show Chairman Neil McGuigan, were very impressed with the quality of the traditional varieties of Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Verdelho, as well as some of the newer varietal plantings.
When it comes to differentiating and judging one wine amongst all others, McGuigan, who has 45 years of industry experience, believes that it is all about the excellence of wine quality and balance.
McGuigan, who has also been Show Chairman for the past five years, said Hunter Valley Shiraz, Semillon and Chardonnay all stood out and scored high, which was expected as that's what the Hunter Valley is known for, but what pleased him most was the performance of some of the newer varieties such as the Italian varieties of Vermentino, Barbera, Montepulciano, Fiano, Pecorino, the Austrian grape Gruner Veltliner and the Portuguese varieties of Arinto and Touriga Nacional.
“These new varieties are essential to the Hunter as we need to continue to evolve as a region and produce wines that excite the consumers so that we continue to be a ‘must-visit’ destination. I think we should celebrate the fact that these new varieties can viticulturally flourish in the area and produce high-quality examples of that variety. We certainly do live in a unique wine-producing region,” said McGuigan in his Chairman of Judges wrap-up.
The Hunter Valley Boutique Winemaker’s Show started in 1989 with eleven wineries as a competition to evaluate wine made from grapes grown in the Hunter Valley by boutique winemakers and provide an opportunity for small winemakers to show the consumer just how great their wines are.
In those early days, the only participants were those vineyards that grew and crushed 100 tonnes.
Today, those entering must not produce more than 350 tonnes a year, and the wine fermented in a winery whose total crush does not exceed 350 tonnes.
Thomas Wines, Colvin, and Gartelmann Wines emerged as the big winners from a hotly contested show with Andrew Thomas, who earlier this year was named Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year, taking home five trophies, including the Most Successful Exhibitor Trophy. RidgeView, Mercer and Gartelmann picked up three trophies each, with Gartelmann also being awarded the highly prized Best Red Wine of Show Trophy for the 2018 Wilhelm Shiraz. Colvin, a small vineyard of just over 5 hectares in Pokolbin, received the Karl Stockhausen Trophy for Best White Wine of Show with the 2013 De Beyers Vineyard Semillon.
Matt Dillow, renowned chef, restauranteur, and owner of Gartelmann Wines, was understandably thrilled with the win.
“We were on cloud nine when we won the award,” said Matt.
“We recently won Best NSW Wine at the Sydney Royal Show for our 2018 Diedrich Shiraz, so we are thrilled to win another trophy, this time with the 2018 Wilhelm Shiraz. It’s great for the brand and a wonderful acknowledgment of everyone's hard work”.
For the local wine industry, wine lovers and visitors to the region, it is pleasing to see consistency amongst the classic Hunter varietals, but even more so, the performance of some of the newer varieties, which shows that these new and exciting varieties are flourishing in the Hunter Valley and that local winemakers are focused on catering to a broader range of tastes for consumers.