Rad-Reds of the Hunter Valley

Red wine has been making in-roads in Australia for many years, and today, there are more varieties of red wine available than ever before. Australia's red winemakers are some of the world's finest, and leading wine regions, such as the Barossa, Clare Valley, Hunter Valley, Margaret River and the Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania, are producing wine from a growing number of grape varieties.

The world's classic premium red grape varieties are all found in abundance in the Hunter Valley, where some of the oldest vines and most prominent names in Australian wine can be found. Here, the warm climate and deep friable loam and red duplex soils of the Hunter Valley produce superb examples of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Petit Verdot as well as an increasing number of Mediterranean varieties that include Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo, to mention just a few.

Whatever you're looking for, the Hunter Valley provides a diversity of red wines just perfect for those looking for something different.

Shiraz is the Hunter's premium red variety and is tremendously flexible in its ability to adapt to almost any combination of climate and soil. The typical young Hunter Valley Shiraz is a medium-bodied wine showing red and dark berries, spices and a great deal of tannin. However, its real character is seen in wines with longevity. With age, the wines become a far more complex, full-bodied, yet smooth and richly flavoured wine with some earthy tones.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the world's most loved red wine and is renowned for its ability to age for decades at a time. As a result, this classic red variety of Bordeaux is second only to Shiraz in importance in Australia. Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be medium to full-bodied, elegant, aromatic and a rich bouquet with fruity notes of black cherries and currants and herby notes of peppers and olives.

Described as "the most romantic of wines'' due to its sensual and gratifying perfume and considered by many to be the next "wine fashion", Pinot Noir tends to be light to medium in body with a broad range of textures and flavours, including a variety of complex aromas reminiscent of black or red cherry, raspberry, currant and blackberry. While widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, it is also highly reflective of its terroir, with different wine growing regions often producing very different wines, which makes vineyard site selection an essential factor.

In Australia, Merlot is one of the most important red grape varieties - coming in third after Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Originating from Bordeaux in France, Merlot is renowned for its wonderfully fruity, well rounded, even fleshy character and is grown in just about every wine growing region of Australia. The summer heat of the Hunter is considered to provide the ideal growing conditions for this versatile grape variety. Hunter Valley Merlot has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, with a vibrant bouquet providing one of the most pleasurable wine experiences.

Tempranillo is a premium grape variety originating in the Rioja region of Spain, where it is often blended with varieties such as Graciano, Grenache and, to a lesser extent Cabernet Sauvignon. Tempranillo wine is now being made in many wine regions throughout Australia - including the Hunter Valley. What makes this variety so exciting is that it is an easy-drinking, medium to full-bodied wine with lower acidity and full fruit flavours that match well with a wide range of foods. The wine itself is ruby red in colour, while the aroma and flavours can have plum, cherry, strawberry, and herb characteristics.

Originally from the Bordeaux region of France, the bold-yet-floral expression of Petit Verdot is something that all red wine enthusiasts should have the opportunity to try. In Australia, Petit Verdot is being planted in warmer climates such as the Hunter Valley, where it produces full-bodied wines with concentrated flavours and integrated tannins. Here ripening on the vine is not such a problem, and while still used in blends, it is increasingly bottled as a single varietal stand-alone wine.