Australia’s Hunter Valley: a report from down under on a weekend out …

This is an email we received from Phil last summer (7/22/08) when he was in Australia to interview for a job.  Wine makes a great diversion … and these are some great tips if you’re looking for a wine country day trip outside of Sydney:

phil_contributor_may-094this past weekend i decided to escape the papal visit to sydney and swarms of 15 year old world youth day pilgrims for the Hunter Valley and a bit of a drive and wine tasting. the rest of sydney seemed to decide to do the same thing, but by staying on the outskirts i’d say i did alright… 5 top ranked wineries, 2.5 cases of wine to take home, a decent brewery hotel as a base, and a fast car to drive around in. no real complaints here in the end…

So a bit of a synopsis in links:
Some photos from the weekend

The wineries I went to:
phil_australia_kinklewood3The first one was Kringlewood on Saturday at about 1130am after a 
morning drive out into the edge of the valley. Saw the sign on my way 
back towards town and stopped, looked at the book, saw that it was 
well ranked and pulled in. All biodynamic vines, with delicious French 
style wines. brought home a shiraz worth of hermitage, a chardonnay & 
a botrytis chardonnay (very rare…)

the next stop was the most commercial of the wineries i visited, and 
in many ways, the least enjoyable:
the shiraz was good, the rest were all decent, the ambiance cut it 
down a lot… the view of the valley was wonderful

from there, i stopped in at blue tongue brewery and had a beer and pie 
for lunch before heading on:

after lunch i headed up to Piggs Peake. An amazing boutique negotiant 
in the same model as Sinnean in Oregon that I have collected so much 
wine from, these guys make amazing stuff. They have fun with the 3 
pigs line of naming, with the wines running form straw to sticks to 
bricks in terms of intensity… I got to taste some pretty damned good 
wine and fortified wine (they make loads of port and madeira style 
fortified wines as well as standard desert wines) and had already 
picked up a few bottles when the winemaker took myself and a few other 
customers with similar interests back to taste a few of the barrel 
Bricks wines… we had a bit of 08 Zin and 08 Shiraz… wow. i can 
understand why the sell out of all of these wines at release…

almost done for the day on saturday… while wandering back into town 
I stop at the cheese store to pick up some fixins for dinner. The 
Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop has a nice array of cheeses, and can 
indeed be smelled from the parking lot. the cave doesn’t hurt matters 
and neither does the antipasti fixings side of the house.

a brief stop for tasting at the small winemakers shop — tasted 
Margan, Little Wine Company & Andrew Thomas good stuff, a nice end to 
a day of wine tasting, more things for the case…

back to the potters hotel & brewery to nap and watch a bit of tri-
nations rugby in the pub…and eat some of that cheese i collected 
that was smelling up the car…

Good times, as it’s a local’s joint and the Wallabies won…

Sunday I headed out to drive back via the mountains, and happened to 
stop at yet one last incredible winery with absolutely no planning — 
it literally looked like my last chance to go to a winery on my way 
out, so I stopped. Turns out to be an incredible place, where the 
viticulturist lives on site and does the tastings, and where I got to 
spend over an hour talking about the vines and wines and facility. 
good times, great juice, and the only Tannat in all of australia (give 
or take a few plants.) again, amazing.
finally, The basic route map:

phil_australia_end_phil-in-mirrorit was a good time. could have used a bit of company perhaps (still could given the collection of vino i brought back.) hope all are well



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