The 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Show concluded on 24 August with more than 700 wines tasted over three days of judging during which 20 trophies were awarded, along with 49 gold medals, 77 silver medals and 210 bronze.
With the Hunter Valley experiencing one of the best vintages on record in 2017, the judging was dominated by last year’s stunning vintage, which continued to impress the panel throughout the tasting, including this year’s international judge, Asia Wine Service and Education Centre Senior Wine Educator, Corinne Mui.
"At this moment, Australian winemakers are making the best wine ever," she said. "The Shiraz, in particular, is fragrant and elegant, bursting with vibrant fruit."
Chair of Judges, Sarah Crowe, a former Hunter Valley winemaker herself, said it had been an extremely rewarding week, with Hunter Shiraz just pipping Semillon at the total medal count post to be the most successful variety entered.
"Shiraz from the 2017 vintage stole the hearts of the judges and dominated the medal tally," she said. "Pristine fruit with flavour intensity has been handled with respect in the winery, and the many beautiful examples meant it was a delight to judge.
These wines are youthful and have a very strong future, and I expect they will perform well in future shows too.
"Teasing out the top wines was very difficult, and full respect goes to the winemakers who showed restraint with oak and bottled their wines so bright and fresh. These are the wines collectors should seek out for cellaring."
Sarah said the very young 2018 Semillons also performed well and she expected them to be even better again next year once they’d had time in the bottle. "The 2017 Semillon classes were stunning, the wines showing great purity of fruit with pristine acidity," she said.
"In the museum Semillon class, the 2013 vintage was very strong. With five years’ bottle maturation, coupled with the intensity of fruit, they are now hitting their straps and were rewarded accordingly.
Having said that, there were also stunning examples of 2009, 2006 and 2005 showing how remarkable a wine style Hunter Semillon is." Other high-performing whites were Chardonnay and Verdelho, which Sarah said had "returned to form" with a trophy going to a bright, fresh style of a well-loved variety.
"A new variety to the Hunter, the Fiano, also had the judges talking," she said. "The Fiano seems well suited to the Hunter Valley, and we’re looking forward to watching this variety in the future."
The big winners on the day were Tyrrell’s winery, with seven trophies (including Iain Riggs Wine of Provenance for the Tyrrell’s Vineyard Stevens Semillon), and Mount Pleasant with six. Mt Pleasants 1880 Vines 2017 Old Hill Shiraz dominated the awards winning five trophies, although the Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon 2013, Stevens Semillon 2018 and First Creek Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay
2017 were all multiple winners.
Other trophy winners were Tamburlaine Wines for Best Verdelho with their Hunter Valley Reserve 2018 Verdelho; Drayton’s Family Wines for Best Fortified Wine; De Iuliis Wines for Best Other Red and Agnew Wines for Best One-Year-Old Dry Semillon with their Audrey Wilkinson 2017 Winemakers Selection Semillon.■