Spotlight on the Hunter Valley, New South Wales
This established wine region offers a few suprises with its new spirit of innovation, writes Samantha Payne in the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller.
So, you think you know the Hunter? You’ve been there, done that, bought the semillon and you’re done. With 180 years of wine history, the New South Wales region is the oldest in Australia. But if you think there’s nothing new to see here, the Hunter Valley might surprise you yet.
A sense of traditional permeates these gentle sloping hills. And yet, the last decade has been characterised by the spirit of innovation, which takes many guises. The spirit of revival is thanks to the actions of forward-thinking winemakers such as Mike De Iuliis, who in 2021 planted the native Portugese grape touriga nacional, a first for the region.
“Semillon and shiraz will always be the thing the Hunter hangs it hat on but climate change means we’ve got to look to other regions to supplement what we grow in tougher years or other varietals,” says De Iuliis.
This experimentation lends itself to a strong cellar door culture. “For us, being a younger brand in the region, it’s easier for us to do weird, quirky things, 68 percent of our sales are direct to the consumer – the wines go straight from our cellar door and into people’s home so we can show people new things.”
Hunter Valley shiraz but with a twist. The addition of touriga from more than 10-year-old vines gives the classic shiraz aromatics more punch and depth of character. The perfect accompaniment to a winter sunset and grazing platter.