By James Atkinson

Hunter Valley winemakers have declared that the region is making its best ever red wines, thanks to a series of stellar vintages and a meticulous approach in the winery.

A buoyant group of the region’s winemakers visited Sydney this month to present some of the trophy winning wines from the Hunter Valley Wine Show.

Among them was Thomas Wines’ Andrew Thomas, who said the region’s winemakers had been “their own worst enemy” in the late 90s and early 2000s.

“We were pushing ripeness in the vineyard, we were bringing grapes in and loading them up with too much oak, we were trying to produce caricatures of what the Hunter is really all about,” he said.

Thomas said the “sloppy winemaking practices” that plagued the region’s wines with brettanomyces were also a thing of the past.

“We as a winemaking community have got together and quite collaboratively decided amongst ourselves that we’re going to keep it out and we certainly have,” he said.

“I think this is the first show that we’ve really seen the results of that with the 2011s and the 2013s showing quite clearly this lovely purity and vibrancy of fruit… it’s not distracted by the sloppy winemaking characters that we’ve seen in the past.”

Don’t let ’14 overshadow ’13: Iain Riggs

Also present was Brokenwood’s Iain Riggs, who said this year’s 2014 vintage – declared the best in a generation – runs the risk of overshadowing what was a sensational 2013 vintage.

“We talk about the ‘14 vintage, but the ‘13 Semillons and Reds really came to the fore,” he said.

“I would hate anyone to think, ‘we can’t talk about the ‘13 reds from the Hunter Valley, because the 14s are so great’,” he said.

“I reckon the ‘13 reds out of the Hunter show a vintage equal to 2011. It’s a really, really smart vintage – they are medium-bodied, they are savoury, linear. They offer great drinking now and in the future.”

The Shout Team

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