As I was saying yesterday, the Hunter Valley is just a couple of hours drive north of Sydney, on the Eastern Coast of Australia. I visited Sydney a few years back when my sister lived over there. I was like a little ginger puddle, my life it was hot! With all that heat you’d reckon that they’d grow and produce big fat red wines like from the hottest bits of the Mediterranean, not subtle dry white wines!
Well there are two important strokes of nature at work here. Firstly is that it’s next the Ocean. Any body of water acts as a mediator for temperature. In the winter it can keep the place warm, and in the summer the water itself and all the ocean breezes can keep the areas cooler. Which helps when otherwise the temperatures are knocking on 40 degrees every year!
Secondly is the cloud cover. It might be hot, but there’s not as much sunshine as you’d expect. It means that weather can be a bit funny come harvest time, so grapes that can cope with early picking, like Semillon, work pretty well.
Thing is, you pick these grapes early, what do you get? Lots of acidity and very little flavour. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Well that’s why Hunter Valley Semillon needs bottle ageing. There are some flavours there, they just take time to become noticeable. So you end up with really refreshing wines with lots of aged flavours of honey and toast.
Now that does sound lovely!