Last week, I escaped the start of Seoul winter and made my way down under to sunny Sydney. This wasn’t my first time in Australia; I had a stint down in Melbourne for school and traveled there occasionally for work but this was the first time in awhile I had made my way there for fun. I will leave stories of my Sydney stay for the time being and delve into the wonderful wine world of Hunter Valley.
It was partly cloudy the day we headed up to the Hunter, as the locals call it, but by the time Hannah and I arrived at Pokolbin it had cleared up and was turning out to be a good day to indulge in the good stuff. One thing you may want to do is look up some wineries and their addresses prior to driving up, map your route so you save as much time as possible (thank you Google maps!). We were aiming for about 5 wineries up ended up at around 8 which was pretty good for a day.
My favourite winery by far was Audrey Wilkinson, which sits on top of a hill and has the a stunning view of the vineyards below. There was a senior citizen tour group that had come before us so the place was packed but luckily our patience paid off in the form of an extended tasting that allowed us to have a go at the wines that weren’t available on the standard tasting menu. For those of you who know me well, you will know that I am an
alcoholic oenophile, favouring big bold flavours when it comes to my wine. While Hunter does not offer many of those options, the spicy medium bodied shirazes, crisp semillions and sweet verdelhos are perfect for summer weather. Not my cup of tea but Audrey Wilkinson had a few that suited my palate. There was a sparkling Malbec Shiraz blend called the Cuvee Rouge which was so unexpected I had to buy it. Moussy start, round in the mouth and crispy finish, it is definitely something you’re going to want to get your hands on if you can (and is apparently great with pork). Another stand out for me was the Lake Shiraz which was well balanced and would go great with a juicy steak. Ask for Ross, he’ll take care of you.
750 DeBeyers Road,
Pokolbin, New South Wales 2320
+61 02 4998 7411
Lunch was at Muse Kitchen, located in the Keith Tulloch winery. Hannah and I had hit about 3 wineries at this point and just needed to eat something in order to keep going. We opted for the roasted corn fed chicken breast with quinoa, yellow and green beans and a pumpkin puree (AUD 36), the crab potato gnocchi (officially known as Fraser Isle Spanner Crab, Desiree Potato Gnocchi asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, shellfish butter, tarragon for AUD 22) and the duck fat roasted potatoes (AUD 8). The gnocchi wasn’t a stand out for me but dear lord I still have dreams about that chicken – it was just all sorts of amazing. And of course, who can go wrong with duck fat potatoes right? If you’re heading there at the weekend, I suggest making a reservation.
Cnr. Hermitage and Deasys Roads,
Pokolbin NSW 2320
+65 02 4998 7899
The thing about the cellar door tastings is, unless you’re a professional, one starts to blend in with the other after the first few. We ended up going to McWilliams, Audrey Wilkinson, Tullochs, Keith Tulloch, Tyrells, Brokenwood, McGuigan and Hope Estate but I only remember a handful. The best winery tastings are the places where the people make an impact. I was especially happy with Hope Estate which was our last stop at Hunter (and wasn’t even on our list of places to go) because the tasting was so thorough and the bartender brought out several different types of wine to suit our tastes.
Just a quick addendum: Be mindful that most of the cellar doors close at 5pm (a few close at 5:30) but plan your day accordingly and make sure the wineries of your choice are open! We weren’t able to go to was Tallavera Grove and their in house restaurant Bistro Molines because they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But I suppose that means I’ll have to make my way down there again!