Hunter Valley Wine Tour
As we set out on our Hunter Valley wineries adventure, we passed a few closed wineries before happening upon IronBark Hill Vineyard. Travelling down the long driveway we were surrounded by barren grape vines, backed up by mighty gum trees. Upon entering the tasting room—an airy, softly lit, earthy coloured room—we were greeted with a friendly "hello" from the unassuming lady behind the counter. With this the wine started to flow.
First up, was a delightful tangy Semillon: the signature grape variety of the Hunter Valley. We learned that Semillon is best drunk within the first few years, but if your plan is to age it then ensure it’s left for six years or longer. Between three to six years old, Semillon goes through a flat period. After that, it is more mature and loses its youthful zest; but it is still beautiful to drink. If only wine ever lasted this long in my house to test this theory!
Continuing through the scenic Hunter Valley, we hopped across the road from IronBark to Piggs Peake winery. Here, the greeting wasn’t quite as friendly and the wine banter was forced, but we sunk our teeth into a Marsanne, Verdelho, Shiraz and Vintage Port. The owner explained that not many places make Vintage Port anymore, but here they use an aged brandy and Shiraz grapes. The result is a Vintage Port that given a year or two will taste delightful.
Happily quenched we continued our Hunter Valley wine tour with a stop at Tempus Two. Here we enjoyed the view across green hills, billabongs, grape vines and gum trees; this was complemented by the gurgling fountains and bright sunshine. The wines on offer at Tempus Two are unique. In the white category they offer an Arneis and a sparkling blush; in the reds: a light Tempranillo and Grenache, along with the weightier Shiraz. Tempranillo is a grape that the Tempus Two foresees as one that will take off in Australian vineyards over the next few years.
Our day in Hunter Valley had worn on at this point and I certainly wouldn't call myself sober. Luckily my lovely husband was the driver, so abstemious I need not be! Our next stop was Draytons Family Wines. The guy working there was by far the friendliest of the folks serving wine, but I wasn't mad about the wines. The exception was the 1999 Joseph Shiraz; now that is a nice drop of wine! Of course at A$70 a bottle it was a bit out of my price range. It's interesting to note that as red wines mature they lose some of that bright burgundy colour and become a more earthy red.
From Draytons we walked to Mount Pleasant Estate where we tried a couple of beautiful Chardonnay and Shiraz wines.
What a perfect day we had! Chatting, drinking wine, learning about it and all against the backdrop of the beautiful Hunter Valley.
When to Go to Hunter Valley Wine Tasting
Odds n' Ends
The cost of a typical Hunter Valley wine tour depends on your taste, but can range between A$30 for a large group bus tour, up to A$150 for smaller private group tour. You can alternatively plan to wander through Hunter Valley on your own, but then the question of cost really becomes about how good your self restraint is.
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