DURING 2017 I received about 2000 wines for review and so selecting a year’s Top 10 involves agonisingly difficult choices. My Hunter palate led me to wines from this region as tops in semillon, shiraz and chardonnay.
WINE OF THE YEAR
Wine of the year and chardonnay of the year is the Tyrrell’s 2013 Vat 47 chardonnay, a white of superb balance and elements of nectarine, fig, lemon zest and flint, which sells for $70. It was recently judged one of best wines and the top Hunter in the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge.
Semillon of the year is the McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant 2009 Lovedale semillon, selling for $90. It unfolds an array of grapefruit, lemon zest, flint and toast and honey flavours.
Shiraz of the year is the Meerea Park 2007 Alexander Munro shiraz. From Ivanhoe vineyard grapes, it’s got great balance and intensity.
BEST CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Margaret River’s Moss Wood 2014 cabernet sauvignon gets the gong as cabernet sauvignon of the year. Selling for $128, it has sumptuous blackcurrant flavour with underlays of mulberry, Turkish delight, chocolate and mint.
BEST SAUVIGNON BLANC
The $27-a-bottle Shaw and Smith 2017 Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc is my best of this hugely popular variety. It has zingy gooseberry front-palate flavour, with elements of kiwifruit, green apple and gunmetal.
BEST PINOT NOIR
My best pinot noir is also from the Adelaide Hills winery of cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith. The $46 Shaw and Smith 2015 pinot noir has vibrant cherry front-palate flavour and a complex backup of pomegranate, spice and spearmint.
You can pay a motza for bubbly, but on quality and affordability my choice is the Tasmanian Kreglinger 2007 vintage brut. For $38 at Dan Murphy’s, it has tiny, persistent bubbles, oatmeal scents and deliciously crisp strawberry, citrus, mineral and macadamia characters.
From former Hunter winemaker Samantha Connew, the $35 Stargazer 2017 Tasmania riesling is my top riesling. It has fresh, crisp ruby grapefruit front-palate flavour, backed by preserved lemon, nashi pear, flint and mineral acid.
Top rosé is the $20 Hilltops Freeman 2017 Rondo rosé, made Italian-origin rondinella variety by ex-Sturt University wine science professor Brian Freeman. It melds strawberry, peaches and cream, apple and mineral characters.
TOP VALUE OF THE YEAR
My top-value wine is the $25 De Iuliis 2016 shiraz made by Michael De Iuliis. At the 2017 Hunter Wine Show it won the best young shiraz trophy and has an array of palate-pleasing blackcurrant, Morello cherry, spice and spearmint.