‘‘Hunter wines are underrated, especially the whites … and they make a perfect match to many of my dishes.’’ Said Michelin Star head chef at The Ledbury in London at the recent Real Wine Fair in London.
Hunter Valley wines are being exceptionally well received in some of the best restaurants in Europe.
The Ledbury has a large selection of Australian wines included in their respected wine list with a whole page each devoted to Australian red and white wines.
“This is due to the diversity and quality we find in Australian wines,” says Graham. “I have been a fan of Hunter Valley semillon for some years. We currently list the 1999 Tyrell’s Vat 1, because I find the precision, complexity and youth of this wine simply amazing.”
Wine connoisseur Daniel Honan attributes the Australian wines’ diversity and quality to the diversity of the Australian wine growing regions: “The sheer size of our country lends itself to offering a huge diversity of wine styles for people everywhere to drink and explore.”
He added that Australian wines are so varied that there is a wine for every taste: “From the big and bold reds of the Barossa Valley, to the delicate pinots of the Mornington Peninsula, and, more recently, Tasmania. From the Margaret River cabernets that can stack up against any of the best examples of Bordeaux, through to Clare Valley rieslings.”
Bruce Tyrrell, managing director of Tyrrell’s Wines explain that while Australian wines deserve to be on more prominent London wine lists a lack of representation of Hunter Valley wines in the UK is to blame for this shortcoming.
“And you also have to remember that there is actually only a limited amount of Hunter wine available,” he says.
“At the moment, the Hunter is down to 0.7 per cent of the total Aussie crush, which makes it very difficult to get marketing traction,” explains Iain Riggs, winemaker at Brokenwood. Australian wines are no longer cheap to import and interest shifted to comparatively cheaper South African wines.
Tyrrell added that as the Hunter Valley grapes ripen during the warmer summer days it means the grapes can be picked earlier so that it has a lower sugar and stronger acidic contents which he says, “Particularly suits semillon and chardonnay and creates a style of shiraz that is more European than the commonly held recognition of Australian shiraz.”
“The Hunter is sub-tropical, so warm nights and days give us a very short ripening period,” Riggs says, “which allows us to make medium-bodied wines that defy the recent push for high alcohol wines from Australia.”
That’s why Brett Graham is keen to showcase more Australian wine, particularly Hunter wine, alongside his award-winning dishes at The Ledbury.
“The best London restaurants certainly understand Hunter semillon,” Tyrrell says, “and we have a great following among the London sommeliers.”