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The Hunter's Finest Red Wines

By the time the red wine trophies were announced at the Hunter Valley Wine Show Celebrations Lunch, we must admit we were rather proud of ourselves. We’d tasted some cracking semillons, chardonnays and dare I say even a verdelho, but had paced ourselves pretty well. Bring on the reds.

And what outstanding reds they were! Brokenwood’s 2014 Graveyard Shiraz was the star of the show, winning a swag of trophies, including Best Red Wine of Show and Best shiraz to name just two.

Graveyard’s out of our league priceways nowadays – it retails for $200+ a bottle – but luckily we have a few tucked away, which we bought when it was under $100 a bottle. Not the 2014 vintage though, which Show President Tim Murray was very impressed with.

“The 2014 vintage promised a great deal – and it did not disappoint,” said Tim.

More than 50% of the 2014 Hunter shiraz wines entered in the show were awarded medals and “the shiraz classes of entry were tremendous and have set new levels of benchmark for the Hunter,” according to Chairman of Judges PJ Charteris.

They may not have won trophies but the 2014 Silkmann Wines Shiraz and Bimbadgen Estate 2014 Shiraz that were on our table won us over, and RA told various winemakers after lunch he was going to be very bullish in buying some 2014 shiraz (so look out credit card!).

But back to the trophy winners.

We’re big fans of Briar Ridge’s Dairy Hill Shiraz and the 2013 vintage won Best Two-Year-Old Shiraz. Pepper Tree Wine’s Tallawanta Single Vineyard Shiraz is another much-loved tipple at our place and the 2011 took home the Best Mature Three-Year-Old and Older Shiraz trophy with Best Museum Red going to Tyrrell’s 2007 Stevens Shiraz.

Agnew Wines Audrey Wilkinson 2014 Winemaker’s Tempranillo won Best Other Red Trophy and the Innovative Red Wine Trophy went to Margan Wine’s 2014 Breaking Ground Shiraz Mourvedre.

Most people want to dodge a bullet, but Andrew Margan looked pretty happy to be given the Silver Bullet award for most innovative red wine by international judge Sarah Ahmed for his Tempranillo Graciano Shiraz.

“My Silver Bullet shortlist focused on other red wines styles which I reckoned refresh the Hunter brand whilst retaining a strong regional thumbprint. What excited me about Margan Family Wines Breaking Ground Tempranillo, Graciano and Shiraz 2014 blend was the Australian clarity of fruit wed to the Hunter’s freshness – a terrific medium-bodied style with great length and line.” says Sarah Ahmed.

And there was a standing ovation for Bruce and John Tyrrell when Tyrrell's won the Iain Riggs Wine of Provenance Trophy for the 2004, 2009 and 2013 Johnno’s shiraz. The award celebrates three different vintages of the same wine for consistency and quality, and this was a clear crowd favourite.

It may not rate alongside Arnie Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll be back” or Clint Eastwood’s “Make my day” but John Tyrrell certainly won everyone over when he accepted the trophy with the words… “Well, I wasn’t expecting this today.” A golden moment in every way.

More than 730 locally grown and made wines were judged with 69 gold, 120 silver and 208 bronze medals as well as 23 trophies awarded. For a full list of results, go to

Photography by Chris Elfes