Hunter valley, about 2.5 hrs drive from Sydney, famous for its wineries and vineyards is a must visit destination in New South wales for the wine lovers!
I have never been a wine lover, but our recent trip to Europe, especially Italy’s Chianti region has changed me. I still dont have an attitude for the white and Roses but I absolutely love the reds and as the hunter valley gurus say I have got a good I have heard that knowing wine and appreciating it is an art. So the main purpose of our trip was to learn wine and to try and at least get a vague idea of “what makes great wines great?”
We started from home at around 8 and headed up towards newcastle and got onto the freeway towards hunter valley vineyards. In about 2 hrs time we reached Cessnock where we stopped for some coffee and nibbles. We then headed off to the information centre to get a map. We finally made it to the first vineyard at around noon. We decided to give more importance to the smaller boutique wineries instead of the big ones and I am so glad about that decision. We met some wonderful inspiring people and heard their stories and tasted some great wines while doing so.
We stopped at Moorebank vineyard, which is a vineyard set out in a picturesque setting. We met a nice lady Susan who works here and you can learn quite a lot of things about wine, food, and life in general just by chatting with her. They dont hav a huge collection of wines here, but the 3 red wines they had, I totally loved them! Given that I am “red person” I started with a blend of Merlot and Shiraz which was quite good, but I felt that it was a bit “young”. I wanted something that was more strong flavoured and yet not too dry. I think I found it in their Merlot 2006, just something I was looking for and for $26.00 AUD it was pretty good on the pocket too!
Apart from talking and sharing knowledge about great wines Susan is by far the strongest lady I have met so far in my life. Surviving a crash with a spinal injury and the subsequent health issues, she is a happy and strong lady who says that she tries to win the pain and its all in the mind! Such a strong person that she is, she is a true real-life inspiration!
Moving on, we headed towards Tamburlaine organic wines. These guys are the largest organic wines boutique. I have tasted a wide range of organic red wines here, starting from a young to a reserve cabernet sauvignon. The lady explained to me how you should be tasting wine, the wine and the food match. I love their Shiraz but they usually run out of stock, so I ended up getting a Merlot reserve which I totally intend to reserve for a couple of years at least, hopefully!
Sandalyn estate is another great one that sells olive oils, puddings, wines and also does cooking classes. I loved their date and toffee pudding and am a big fan of their garlic infused olive oil! I also got Cuvee Pinot Noir from them. Pinot Noirs are usually light and easy, not too strong or heavy. So I usually dont end up buying Pinot noirs as I prefer to just have one glass of it when I dine out. As many of the people at the vineyards in the valley mentioned today, I have an intermediate palate and I like pushing myself to the edge, constantly in search of new flavours. But this particular Pinot Noir I got from Sandalyn is a “Cuvee” which means, apparently, is of a “specific blend or batch” and I must confess, the flavours in it are not like any other Pinot Noir.
My next buys, the two other wines that I totally loved but missed out on buying them due to the shortage of time are “Petit Verdot 2009 from Gartelmann wines” thats costs $30 AUD and “2006 Thomas Charles Reserve Shiraz from Adina Vineyard” for $35 AUD which I especially loved for its woody flavours. need to hit back the valley to get these next time! Adina also has some nice olives, infused olive oils. But I wasnt very impressed by their customer service, so had to dash out to get the infused olive oil somewhere else.
CHOCOLATE! Who doesnt love chocolate? There is also a chocolate factory in the valley where you can try different kinds of chocolates and buy them. I ended up getting some dark chocolate for the chocolate fondue.
Oh please be sure to try their “Chilli bomb” Yumm! This is my favourite, and I am so going to visit them for it every time I go there.
I also learnt some cool wine terms, techniques and wine and food relationships which I will write in my next post!