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Best Hunter White Wine

Well, the results are in and according to the 21 esteemed judges at the 2015 Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show the best white wine is the Tyrrell’s 2006 Vat 1 Semillon.

No surprise really that it won the Best White Wine of the Show, as this Hunter classic had also taken out the Best Mature Two-Year & Older Semillon and Best Semillon trophies. Bruce Tyrrell has often said the 2006 vintage was a golden one for semillons and the bottle is studded with gold labels to prove it.

After much fossicking around in the wine racks last night we dug up a 2007 Vat 1 but alas no 2006. Luckily we were able to get taste of this little beauty at the Celebrations Lunch at Cypress Lakes Pool Marquee yesterday, as the gold-medal-winning wines are plonked randomly on tables to enjoy with lunch. It’s the epitome of a mature Hunter semillon but still has oodles of crisp fruit – if it’s anything to go by, we might leave the 2007 for a while yet.

Of course, we also love young semillons and two favourites took home gongs yesterday – First Creek’s 2015 Premium Semillon won Best Current Vintage Semillon and Brokenwood’s 2014 Trevena Vineyard the Best One-Year-Old Dry Semillon.

We wholeheartedly agree with judge Peter Nixon, who is also on Dan Murphy's Wine Panel, comment that “Hunter Valley semillon is one of the most drinkable and cellar-worthy white wine styles on the planet.”

But as far as white wines go, the Hunter has a lot more than to offer just semillon. We’ve enjoyed quite a few bottles of First Creek’s 2014 Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay and Tyrrell’s Belford 2013 Chardonnay – and both snagged trophies. First Creek took out the Best Current & One-Year-Old Chardonnay, and Best Chardonnay overall, and Tyrrell’s won Best Two-Year & Older Chardonnay.

We chatted to First Creek winemaker Liz Jackson poolside with a cleansing Peroni after lunch and she was pretty happy with her win. Liz believes the standard of chardonnay is improving across Australia but, particularly, in the Hunter Valley.

Sentiments also echoed by Peter Nixon. “Hunter Valley chardonnay is increasingly sophisticated, with many winemakers showing great skill in producing modern, elegant expressions,” he said.

The Best Other White trophy went to Bimbadgen Estate for its 2015 vermentino – a new variety for the Hunter Valley that hails from Italy – and the “Tiara” (the nickname for the Best Verdelho trophy) was awarded to Briar Ridge for its 2015 The Dam Verdelho.

Winemaker Gwyn Olsen looked thrilled to be wearing the glittering tiara and tweeted “Stoked with this! First trophy awarded in three years.” We hadn’t tried The Dam before but were pretty impressed: there was a lot more to it than the usual burst of fruit salad flavours and it made quite a few people at our table sit up and take notice – verdelho devotees included.

The two other white winners were Tyrrell’s 2005 Belford Semillon for Best Museum White and McLeish Estate 2007 Semillon for the Best Named Vineyard White Wine.

In total 69 gold, 120 silver and 208 bronze medals as well as 23 trophies were awarded. For a full list of results, check out hunterwineshow.com.au (although they weren’t online at the time of this post).

Wine show lunch crowd photo by Chris Elfes.

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