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Shiraz the star of the 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Show

Sarah Crowe, Chair of Judges.

Sarah Crowe, Chair of Judges.

Glasses have been raised, wines have been tasted, results have been tallied and the winners celebrated at last Friday’s CCL Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show Celebrations Luncheon at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort.

 Over the three days of judging, this year’s panel tasted over 700 wines, with 49 gold, 77 silver, 210 bronze and 20 trophies being awarded to the winning wine producers. 

 With the Hunter Valley experiencing one of the best vintages on record in 2017, the week’s 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 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 2017 really stole the hearts of the judges and dominated the medal tally,’ Sarah 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.’

Hunter Valley Wine Show President David Flynn said the show not only showcased the quality of the region’s excellent wines, it was also a valuable tool for winemakers to gain a valuable industry benchmark.

 ‘It was great to see the fruits of last year’s fabulous vintage – our winemakers have once again demonstrated the excellence the Hunter Valley is so highly regarded for,’ he said.

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 tasting process. 

Christina Atherton