Semillon steals the show
It was bottoms-up for the Hunter Valley’s Semillon this year after beating Shiraz on a total medal count to be
the most successful variety exhibited at the recent CCL Label Hunter Valley Wine Show held at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort.
Over the three days of judging, the 19-strong panel judged 722 wines, with 50 gold, 75 silver, 225 bronze and 21 trophies being awarded to the winning wine producers.
With the Hunter Valley experiencing one of the best vintages on record in 2017, followed by an exceptional 2018 vintage, the week’s judging was a special experience for the panel throughout the tasting, including this year’s international judge, America’s foremost expert on Australian and New Zealand wines, Chuck Hayward.
He said it was fantastic to be invited to judge this year’s Hunter Valley Wine Show.
‘This show is very special as it affords judges the opportunity to taste through many vintages of Semillon, the region’s signature varietal,’ Chuck said.
‘Once again, it was amazing to witness the grape’s ability to maintain such freshness as it ages. It is truly unique in the world of wine.
‘Nevertheless, it was Shiraz, Australia‘s most popular grape, that shone. The backstory was the great weather conditions in 2017 and 2018 that saw the grapes mature perfectly. The wines showed very well and it was rewarding to see so many gold medals awarded to these tasty wines.’
Chair of Judges Sarah Crowe said it had been an extremely rewarding week, with Gold Medals awarded to
19 different exhibitors an indication of how strong the competition was at the top end.
She said the 2019 Semillon class showed much promise, despite it still being early in the life of these wines.
‘The two-year and older Semillon class (Vintage 2017 to 2009) were stunning, the wines showing great purity
of fruit and a youthfulness that seems to defy their age,’ she said.
‘The museum Semillon class is what every judge wishes for when they come to the Hunter Valley Wine Show and it didn’t disappoint. The intensity of fruit coupled with bottle-aged development was rewarded. There were also stunning examples of 2009, 2006 and 2005, showing how remarkable a wine style Hunter Semillon is.’
Sarah said the Chardonnay was following industry trends in style, coupling precision winemaking with high quality vineyards.
‘The judges debated around what is a regional Hunter style verses modern Australian Chardonnay, both legitimate and delicious styles and it’s great to see diversity across the region,’ she said.
‘One of the more recent exciting classes is Red Blends and Other Red Varietals, which continue to throw up some lovely wines – both juicy early drinking styles and more serious structural wines. These classes are growing in relevance to both producers and consumers with these lighter styles gaining listings on wine lists
and vineyard plantings of newer varietals now with some vine age.
‘Once again the Shiraz from the 2018 vintage had the judges all excited. Polished and precise wines with a lovely core of fruit were really delicious. Following on from last year’s results, entries of the 2017 vintage Shiraz were still holding well. Skilled and respectful winemaking bringing out the best of the vineyard.’
Hunter Valley Wine Show President David Flynn said the show not only showcased the quality region’s excellent wines, but was also a useful tool for winemakers to gain a valuable industry benchmark.
‘Our winemakers have once again demonstrated the excellence the Hunter Valley is so highly regarded for,’
The Hunter Valley Wine Show is considered one of Australia’s oldest wine shows and has been held continuously since 1974. The annual regional wine show aims to assess and showcase the quality of wines being produced by the Hunter Valley, with medallists selected through a rigorous testing process.
For the full list of winners, click here.
Pictured: Mount Pleasant Wines team; image credit: Chris Elfes