It’s time to dig out your swimmers, summer is just around the corner for those in the Southern Hemisphere and the mercury is rising by the day!
While the warm weather and longer days mean those afternoons tucked up in front of a fire are far behind us, it gives us an excellent excuse to quench your thirst with some excellently refreshing white wine while soaking up that vitamin D!
To help you on your way, The Wine Pig has put together a list of wines which we think you should be drinking this summer.
Burnbrae, Mudgee – 2016 Cuvee Chardonnay
There is no season, time or occasion that a glass of bubbles is anything other than entirely appropriate, and in the summer sunshine, it would almost be rude not to have a glass of Aussie sparkling in hand. Burnbrae’s Cuvee is excellently crisp and fresh with plenty of citrus and toasted hazelnuts. A real crowd pleaser!
Howard Vineyard, Adelaide Hills – 2016 Clover Sauvignon Blanc
Howard Vineyard’s 2016 Clover Sauvignon Blanc was grown under perfect conditions, beautifully ripening the fruit. This single block wine is wonderfully fresh and refreshing, packed with grapefruit, citrus and tropical notes. Super easy drinking for any occasion, and any time of the day…!
Molly’s Cradle, Hunter Valley – 2016 Verdelho
If Sauvignon Blanc isn’t quite up your street then a gorgeous Hunter Valley Verdelho might be more what you’re after. It’s still fruity and packed full of citrus but instead of a crisp, sharp finish, it’s got a natural sweetness to balance out that zesty finish.
James Estate, Hunter Valley – 2013 Reserve Fume
Made from the winery’s Hayshed Block Semillon and McCormick’s Sauvignon Blanc grapes, James Estate’s Reserve Fume wine is utterly delicious. Perfect for those looking for something a little more adventurous than your simple zesty white wine, it’s still packed with the refreshing lemon and citrus notes but ends with a gentle smokiness that keeps you wanting more.
Mr Mick, Clare Valley – 2016 Riesling
From Tim Adam’s more everyday affordable range, the Mr Mick Riesling is your classic Aussie style example of this iconic European wine. Its packed with lemon, orange and lime but with a floral undertone and slight sweetness to help balance the natural acidity. Easily lovable, dangerously drinkable!
Mount Pleasant, Hunter Valley – 2016 Elizabeth Semillon
Love Semillon? Love dry white wine? You’ll love this! It’s difficult not to fall head over heels for a good old Hunter Valley Semillon, and Mount Pleasant’s version is right up our street! Again, it has the citrus notes we love in a summery white wine, but with an extra tinge of toasted apple and finishing with a buttery texture.
Eagles Rest, Hunter Valley – 2011 Maluna Chardonnay
It’s no secret that The Wine Pig has a huge appreciation for all things Chardonnay, and this one is no exception. It’s unsurprising this one has won so many awards given the amazing power and fruit depth in awesome wine. It’s rich, oaky, clean and utterly, utterly delicious!
From a dry pinot noir to a sweet white zinfandel, Aussie Rose is extremely diverse and adaptable enough to suit just about any occasion.
As spring is back in the air and the days are getting longer, there has never been a better time to drink pink!
The Wine Pig sends a big congratulations to all the winemakers and their wines that made our ‘top favorites’ list.
For the Rose wine lover in all of us.
TarraWarra Estate, Yarra Valley – 2015 Pinot Noir Rose
TarraWarra Estate’s beautiful blush Pinot Noir Rose is one of our favorite go-to’s. It’s deliciously fresh, dry and packed full of succulent strawberry notes. It’s definitely worth stocking up your fridge with this beauty in time for the warmer evenings!
Mount Pleasant Estate, Hunter Valley – 2015 ‘Singing in the Rain’ Rose
Picked early, specifically to make a rose, rather than using the juice that has been run off reds as an afterthought, gives this wine a huge amount of its character. The Shiraz-based wine is pale salmon pink in colour has earthy and slightly floral undertones but with a powerfully juicy red berry finish. Delicious!
James Estate, Hunter Valley – 2014 Reserve Ben Braggie Vineyard Rose
Using perfectly ripe Cabernet Franc, James Estate ran the juice straight out of the skins to ensure they made a light, fresh style of Rose. And wow, did it work! It’s dry and fresh but beautifully balanced with lashings of notes which scream strawberries and cream. Definitely get this one on your shopping list!
Mr Mick, Clare Valley – 2016 Rose
Made from Sangiovese grapes, Mr Mick’s latest Rose is impressively fresh and delicious with lots of fruit – apple, raspberry and red cherry – to make a bright and cleansing wine with a dry finish. It’s dangerously drinkable and perfect for any occasion, with or without food!
Spinifex, Barossa Valley – 2015 Rose
Made from Grenache (52%), Cinsault (30 %), Mataro (14%) and Ugni blanc (4%), this pink wine is much more fragrant and fleshy. It’s super dry and savory with a oaky hint, making it stand out from all the rest. Anyone who doesn’t believe that Australia can produce a good Rose needs to drink a glass of this ASAP!
Alex moved to the Upper Hunter Valley in mid-2015 to join the James Estate family, just four short years after his wine career began, and quickly rocketed, at a Port Macquarie winery.
With grapes grown in the region and made and bottled onsite, James Estate is a premium Hunter Valley-based winery which spreads over two sites – and a cellar door in the beautiful Pokolbin – and plantings which date back to 1968.
With a new vibrant winemaker on board and the ongoing revamp of its cellar door and the James Estate Guest House nearby, these are very exciting and innovative times for Alex and the rest of the James Estate gang.
Here, The Wine Pig has been lucky enough to speak to Alex to find out more about his passion for the wine world, and what we can look forward to from James Estate in coming months.
Why did you decide to become a winemaker?
My father worked in the wine trade in the UK and Germany in his youth so I grew up with great stories of the industry and great wine to accompany those stories. I travelled a bit after finishing school and worked in a few different trades while still continuing to have a keen interest in wine. When the opportunity came up for me to work my first vintage I jumped at it and I have been hooked ever since.
What attracted you to the Hunter Valley wine region in particular?
One of the best things about making wine is that every single day presents you with a new challenge and as far as regions go there are few as challenging as the Hunter Valley. I have always been a fan of Hunter Valley wines and how unique the varietals can be from any other region. The Upper Hunter Valley is also a beautiful place filled some very genuine people and is a great place to raise a family.
Can you describe your winemaking style, and how it differs to your peers in the region?
It is very difficult to say I have a particular style of winemaking, I still consider myself a green horn. I am constantly learning new and innovative techniques from colleagues and peers in the industry. I feel the key to making good wine is being able to recognize how to use and adapt these techniques for each individual wine you produce.
Which of your wines are you most proud of and why?
This has been my first vintage in the Hunter and also my first in leading the team. I am very happy with the wines we have produced this year and look forward to the first of the 2016 whites hitting the shelves in June and getting feedback. There is a particular batch of Pinot we hand picked, open fermented in oak and basket pressed this year. I seem to find myself at these barrels on a daily basis to taste.
What are you drinking now, and what are you cellaring?
I’m a bit Semillon obsessed at the moment. It’s a great wine to grab two bottles of, drink one now and cellar one for a few years to see how it rewards.
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would that be?
What a terrible world it would be to live in where you were only limited to one wine for the rest of your life! If it did come down to it though it would have to be our 2013 Reserve Shiraz, Medium bodied with subtle oak it is drinking beautifully right now but will cellar well and develop for many years to come.
What is the most exciting thing coming up for both you and the business over the next 12 months?
I am very excited to see our wines from this vintage starting to make its way to bottle and on the market. We had a great vintage and some excellent fruit came off the vine. Obviously for me being the one in the driver’s seat for the first time I am very anxious to hear the publics reviews. We will be releasing some exciting new wines including a couple of sparkling wines that the winery has not done for many years.
The Sydney Cellar Door event is back for 2016, showcasing the very best that NSW’s wine industry has to offer in Sydney's Hyde Park south, hosted by The Sydney Morning Herald.
As the largest celebration of wine in the state, wine lovers can challenge themselves to visit every one of the 100 winery stalls over a three-day period to sip and savor their way to wine heaven.
And for those which need a bit more guidance, here are The Wine Pig’s highlights to help you on your way.
Established in 1967, Hungerford Hill is a gorgeous boutique estate in Australia’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley.
Not only is Hungerford Hill’s winery is a landmark of the Hunter Valley region, the notorious Muse Restaurant boasts some of the finest food in the Valley and with a fantastic view across the vineyards to the Brokenback Ranges.
Cellar door guru Beck is an expert for those which want to be taken on a wine journey through Hungerford Hill’s ample variety of wines. Any wine festival visitors should certainly swing by this stall!
Wine to look out for: 2010 Dalliance Sparkling Pinot Noir
Mt Pleasant Wines
Also nestled in the infamous NSW wine region of Hunter Valley, Mt Pleasant Wines has a number of different wine ranges from five of its own vineyards, each known for their outstanding quality.
Having recently appeared in The Wine Pig’s top 12 wines of Christmas blog – the 2014 Eight Acres Semillion – it was an absolute pleasure to swing by and greet the friendly team at this iconic wine event. Whether you’re looking for a perfect drop for a special occasion or you just want to check out their range, we recommend you pop by!
Wine to look out for: 2007 Elizabeth Semillon and the Rosehill Vineyard Shiraz
Pepper Tree Wines
Another Hunter Valley favorite. Pepper Tree Wines actually produces a range of premium varietal wines sourced from its own vineyards in NSW’s Hunter, Orange, Connawarra and Wrattonbully regions and distributes not only in Australia but also internationally.
Split into four different ranges, these wonderful wines range anywhere from a light and zesty sauvignon blanc to a rich chocolately shiraz – there is something for every type of wine pig! Make sure to give the very lovely Pepper Tree ladies a visit!
Wine to look out for: 2015 Polly Fume
With grapes grown in the region and made and bottled onsite, James Estate is another premium Hunter Valley-based winery which deserves a drop in at their stall.
The vineyards spread over two sites in the Hunter Valley, with their cellar door set in the beautiful Pokolbin and vineyard in Baerami, with plantings which date back to 1968.
Swing by the stall and ask the team to tell you more about the range. And if you’re looking for a selection of wines but are finding it too difficult to choose, these guys do an excellent mystery box. Oooh!
Wine to look out for: 2015 Reserve Rose
Carillion Vineyard on the slopes of Mt Canobolas in NSW’s Orange wine region produces some brilliant cool climate wines.
Red/brown volcanic clay loams on light-medium clays provide the base for growing premium Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in the whites, with the focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz in the reds.
Any Sydney Cellar door visit should definitely drop in at the Carillion and ask for the very helpful and very lovely Tim. The wines are an utter treat!
Wine to look out for: 2015 Carillion Riesling
Di Lusso Estate
Mudgee’s iconic and extremely wonderful Di Lusso Estate produces a fantastic range of Italian-inspired wines. A visit out to this stunning cellar door is an absolute must – sit outside overlooking the mudgee valley and feast on some amazing Italian food and sample through the wine list.
For those which find a trip out to the region a little too much, you definitely need to swing by their stall at this weekend’s event and say hi to Rob!
Wine to look out for: 2015 Pinot Grigio