HUNTER VALLEY VINEYARDS

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Wine is bottled poetry

Robert Louis Stephenson

 

I’m with Robert Louis Stephenson. I love sipping a glass of peppery shiraz in front of the fire on a winter’s night or feeling the smooth, cool elixir of a gentle Semillon trickle down my throat on a hot summer day.

According to several studies I’m doing my health a great service too, as long as I’m not overindulging.

Last Monday’s post 5 Reasons A Hunter Holiday Will Make You Happy, promised to talk about the region’s wine.

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If you can’t drink for health, drink for happiness.

  • First let me tell you there has been plenty of debate about the benefits of drinking wine. It is a known fact that grape skin is full of antioxidants and as red wine is fermented with the skin, it is indeed rich in these precious compounds.

There have been studies suggesting other benefits too.

IS WINE A BRAIN AND BODY BOOSTER?

  • According to Health.com drinking a glass or two of wine each day could help to preserve memory. Funny – it usually has the opposite effect on me, but then I have probably had a few more glasses – (I don’t remember).
  • One study used memory quizzes on women in their 70s and found those who drank one or more glasses a day scored much better than those who didn’t.
  • Another study suggested those who drank a glass of wine daily had a lower body mass than those who didn’t – that’s it I’m never giving it up!
  • Yet another study claims wine can boost oestrogen levels – well I actually NEED that, and yet another links it to reducing women’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • A British study revealed that a glass a day could ward off infection as it boosts body defences.
  • Australian research compared women with ovarian cancer to those who did not have cancer and found those who drank a glass of day reduced their risk of this form of cancer by as much as 50%. This study was backed up by similar research done at the University of Hawaii.

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It can take 800 grapes to make a bottle of wine. A bottle equals 4 – 6 glasses, depending on how you pour.

  • I drink wine because I love the taste and the happy, comforting glow I feel when an enjoying a glass or two.

AN ANCIENT VINTAGE

The first wine was thought to have been made around 10,000 years ago.

We can thank monks for innovating the art of wine making. In fact, the Champagne Dom Perignon was named after a monk, Dom Pierre Perignon (1638 – 1715).

The oldest bottle of wine dates back to AD 325 and was found in Germany.

The tiniest things in the environment have a profound effect on the taste of the wine.

For instance; one of our favourite Hunter Valley Wineries, Pepper Tree, uses grapes grown in the Wrattonbully wine region, South Australia. In this area there are a lot of protected gum trees that are growing beside the vines. Sap from the trees drops onto the grapes and the ground, giving their premium reserve Shiraz Viognier ‘The Gravels’ its distinct taste.

Grapes that are growing side by side can vary in taste just because one row of vines may receive more or less sun than the other.

The soil is an important factor too. The loose sandy soil around the Hunter is perfect for growing Semillon while the heavy clay soil that is also predominant in the area is great for Shiraz.

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There are more than 2600 hectares of wine grapes planted in the Hunter Valley. The area is famous for its Semillon, with its crisp fresh taste, its Chardonnay and it’s spicy Shiraz.

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What’s with the roses? We’ve been told it could be a throwback from when horses were used to plough so they wouldn’t knock into the vines, or it could be because roses attract certain bugs before the vines do so can alert winemakers there is a problem, or just because they look nice. What do you think?

 

FAVOURITE HUNTER VALLEY WINERIES

There are more than 150 wineries and cellar doors in the Hunter Valley. As dedicated wine drinkers as we are, we have not tried them all.

These days we tend to revisit our favourites and maybe only try one new winery each time. Please note this is not a sponsored post.

One of the first wineries we fell in love with and immediately joined was Vinden Estate Wines. This elegant boutique winery was opened in 1990 by Guy and Sandra Vinden. They hand pick, hand plunge and basket press the grapes to produce the most amazing wines.

Their Merlot has been described as liquid velvet and their Shiraz and Semillon are also favourites of ours.

Right up there with Vinden Estate is Pepper Tree Wines. The peppery taste of their Shiraz is unbeatable and their Semillon is also a favourite.

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Pepper Tree wine club members can book a tasting in the members’ private tasting lounge, overlooking the beautiful grounds. Here you will be treated to a cheese platter and the opportunity to taste some of the older, finer wines. This is truly an indulgence we enjoy.

You can even make your dog a member of the wine club, with special treatment for pampered pooches.

Other favourite wineries in the area include The Little Wine Company, as there is always something different to try there and Margan Hunter Valley Wines for their wonderful Semillon.

One thing any winemaker will tell you is that it all comes down to different tastes so the only way you’ll know if you like these wines is to visit the Hunter Valley and try them for yourself.

Cheers, and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.