Hunter Valley Vintage 2014
Impressively, the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association recently hosted an event in which I was given the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of their 2014 vintage, and to taste a number of the gold medal wines from their regional show (held in August). A panel of Hunter Valley experts were on hand to guide their audience, including:
– Andrew Thomas (Owner & Winemaker) Andrew Thomas Wines,
– Andrew Spinaze (Chief Winemaker) Tyrrell’s Wines,
– Gwyn Olsen (Chief Winemaker) Briar Ridge, and
– Mike De Iuliis (Owner & Winemaker) De Iuliis Wines.
With below-average Winter/Spring rain, and more sunshine than recent vintages (combined with periods of severe heat), most Hunter Valley vineyards were able to attain a moderate crop of clean ripe fruit. This appears to have resulted in a vintage of excellent standard wines, both white and red.
Though no 2014 reds are ready to taste, the semillon’s quality was unquestionable. The vintage provided a sizable crop with good levels of sugar and acidity. Late in the season, a period of 4 days over 38 degrees greatly accelerated ripening, however, this heat-wave does not seem to have adversely effected the finesse and charm that slow-ripen fruit generally affords.
In addition to discussing the vintage and the gold medal wines, the evolving style of Hunter Valley wines was examined. “Gone are the days of barnyard and sweaty saddle”, and “no longer are winemaking or viticultural decisions made to accommodate individual wine critics” (Andrew Thomas). Wines are being made that best suit the region, the varieties that it produces, and to represent the nuances of each particular vintage. But, how does this shift in style influence the notable aging capability of Hunter Valley semillon? As a consequence of the swing towards a more ‘contemporary’ style, “the new wave of Hunter Semillon may not age as well as their predecessors; however, they will be considerably more approachable and enjoyable when young” (Andrew Thomas). Interestingly, “the wine’s acid does not age Hunter Valley semillon, it’s the chemistry within the fruit … of which acid is only one component” (Andrew Spinaze).
Congratulations and thanks must be given to the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association, and to Andrew, Gwyn, Andrew and Mike for creating, and supporting, such an informative and unique event. I can’t wait for the 2015 Hunter Valley event.
For more information on the Hunter Valley Wines and Tourism visit: http://www.winecountry.com.au/
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