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  • Quentin Von Essen

Red Wines of the Hunter Valley

Throughout the world, the goal of winemakers is to make the best possible wine, and in Australia, for many wine enthusiasts, the quest for that "perfect" Australian red wine starts in the Hunter Valley, where for almost 200 years, winemakers have developed a reputation for producing remarkable wines, showcasing a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.


There is no mistaking the quality and variety of red wine on offer in the Hunter Valley, where the region's terroir - a combination of climate, soil, and topography, plays a pivotal role in shaping the distinct characteristics of its red wines. Here, the warm climate and deep friable loam and red duplex soils of the Hunter Valley produce superb examples of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and 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 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 much 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, renowned for its ability to age for decades. 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, 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 winegrowing regions often producing very different wines.

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.

Originally from Spain, Grenache is one of the world’s most widely planted grapes. In Australia, it is well known as part of a blended trio with Shiraz and Mourvèdre – the so-called GSM blend, which can be found in numerous Hunter Valley tasting rooms. Grenache is now increasingly popular as a superb single varietal medium to full-bodied wine, with red fruit flavours that are layered with a peppery spice. Its balanced tannins and acidity make it easy to drink, although it does tend to have higher alcohol levels.

Tempranillo is a premium grape variety originating in the Rioja region of Spain, where it is often blended with varieties such as Grenache and, to a lesser extent Cabernet Sauvignon. This variety is exciting because 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 is ruby red, 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 planted in warmer climates like the Hunter Valley, producing full-bodied wines with concentrated flavours and integrated tannins.

Whatever you're looking for, the Hunter Valley provides a diversity of red wines perfect for those looking for something different. Enjoy wine, enjoy friends, and most importantly, enjoy yourself.



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