THE best overall red wine at the 2016 Hunter Valley Wine Show is available in only one venue: the Clarendon Hotel.
Dimbulla Estate’s 2014 Tempranillo/Shiraz is available for $7 a glass or $30 a bottle – it’s a steal at $5 a glass on Tuesday pizza and pasta night.
The Clarendon, a busy upmarket hotel with full dining and accommodation on Hunter Street, has been exclusively selling Dimbulla’s Tempranillo blend (75 per cent tempranillo in the 2014 vintage) for several years. The connection to the wine comes from family: Dimbulla’s owner, Sydney car dealer Dilip Kumar, is the godfather of the pub’s licensee, Shaun Raymond.
“My family has been drinking it for years,” Raymond explained. “We have been selling it for years, the only one in Australia.”
The wine brand conveys the background of Kumar, who was born and educated in Sri Lanka and worked a time in the tea plantations in the Dimbulla region of the country’s western highlands.
He moved to Australia in 1974 at age 21 and became involved in the automotive industry. He is the owner of Sydney-based Peninsula Motor Group.
In 2001 Kumar purchased 40 hectares in Sweetwater Road, Pokolbin, and enlisted professional help to establish 12 hectares of olive groves and six hectares of semillon, shiraz and tempranillo grape vines.
“We began selling the tempranillo five years ago,” Raymond said. “And it’s never come off the wine list.”
The decision to plant tempranillo in his Hunter vineyard was Kumar’s alone. It wasn’t fashionable at the time, but he was confident it would work.
“My uncle doesn’t take any shortcuts,” Raymond said about Kumar’s passion for making great wine. “He doesn’t do anything by halves.”
The wine was made by Tyrrell’s chief winemaker Mark Richardson From the much-acclaimed 2014 Hunter red vintage, it was the first tempranillo-shiraz blend, with earlier vintages being single varietals.
Kumar always supplied the wine for family gatherings, Raymond said, and one day he asked Kumar if he would let him sell it at the Clarendon. The rest is history.
Besides the Clarendon Hotel, Dimbulla Tempranillo can be purchased in Japan where most of it exported.
The wine is featured in wine writer John Lewis’s story about five great Hunter wines to drink with food that is included in today’s bumper Food Issue of Weekender. The story, on page 30 of the magazine, includes Daniel Honan’s five best local beers to drink with food.
The issue includes an overview of Hunter Region dining trends, plus 60 restaurant reviews and 16 “Best of” lists covering everything from burgers to dessert.