True Beauty, Even in Youth
Huntington Estate, in Mudgee, is crafting wines that will stand the test of time.
The Mudgee region is often seen as the poor cousin of the Hunter Valley, but it’s a district that produces undeniably good wines. The town is just 3 hours from Newcastle but is frequently overlooked by oenological tourists, perhaps due to the fact that if you’re travelling from Sydney or Newcastle you almost need to drive straight past the Hunter in order to get there! But to the Mudgee community, wine is a big deal – after all, it’s the second biggest industry in the region (after coal mining).
While the Mudgee winemakers play with Chardonnay and Semillon, and at times and tinker with Sauvignon Blanc and Verdelho, I reckon it’s the red varietals that have done the heavy lifting in earning credibility and acclaim. Amongst those, cabernet and merlot more than hold their own while pinot noir makes a cameo appearance as a misfit and lurks aimlessly in the higher altitudes where a cooler ripening is achievable. But for my palate, ShirazShiraz
is the rock star of the portfolio. Mudgee fruit is typically rich and tannic and for a shiraz that’s a perfect platform from which to launch a style that is designed to lay on its side for a decade before seeing the inside of a crystal glass.
I’ve written about the Huntington estate wines previously - a winery that was one of the first in the Mudgee region, having planted the first vines in the late 1960’s. These days, owner and chief winemaker Tim Stevens aims to craft wines that will stand the test of time rather than dance to the tune of the music of the day. I recently enjoyed an opportunity to sample his 2018 Pinot Noir Dry Rose, the 2018 Semillon and his 2014 Huntington Estate Shiraz. And despite the quality of its stablemates, it was the Shiraz that most stimulated the senses and titillated the taste buds. The 2014 vintage has just been released and is probably a few years away from being at its best. But even in its youth it’s still full colour and full flavour. There’s a kaleidoscope of dense red berries across the palate and chewy tannins through the middle and across the conclusion. The currently evident sweet savoury leafiness and forest floor characters will no doubt subside with time but even in its infancy, the Huntington Estate Shiraz is ripe in fruit and sending all the signals that it will be a proverbial ball-tearer in years to come. I love the sweet round influence of new American Oak, and it’s becoming of a wine of such austerity.
At only around $35 a bottle it’s fair value and given the wines ample tannins and allowed a decade in the cellar, the upside might be immeasurable.