Think the Hunter Valley’s like your boring old uncle? Think again.

The Hunter Valley has become something like the uncle you don’t really want to sit next to at Christmas dinner. Sure he’s a nice guy. And, yes, he’s reliable. But he’s just really boring, and – let’s face it – you’d much rather spend a few hours with those delightful cousins Margaret River and Clare Valley.

Six blokey, flush cheeked, rugby playing wine makers from the Hunter Valley are trying to change all that by touring up the east coast this month, conducting various pop-up wine bars and wine dinners between Melbourne & Noosa.

Calling themselves the “New Generation Hunter Valley” they’re trying to convince us that there’s a lot more going on in the Hunter these days, with new wine making techniques in place and new varietals being produced, meaning old uncle is now a delightful dinner guest you’d be proud to sit next to, no matter what the event.

Last night they were in Byron Bay – which is right where I also happened to be – for a fabulous wine dinner at the Byron Beach Cafe, where thirteen wines were up for tasting.

While the Hunter still has a lot of catching up to do to captivate our imaginations, and while the wines do (unfortunately) remain largely overpriced, it’s wonderful to see this motley band of brothers doing a stellar job of bringing the Hunter back onto every wine lovers radar. Maybe – just maybe – more of us will happily be sitting next to our uncle at dinner again this Christmas.

Here’s our Top 3 wines we think could make you look again at the Hunter.

1. Thomas Braemore Semillon 2011

Of course there’s a semillon on the list! He’s still your uncle right? The Hunter Valley may be able to convince us that he’s a little more exciting, but he certainly can’t change who he is – one of Australia’s best producers of semillon.

What was delectably special about this one from Andrew Thomas at Thomas Wines is that it was light and lively enough to enjoy on it’s own without food. But, hang on. Did someone say barbecued seafood? Yes please! It would be a perfect match with that too.

It’s so delightful and lickably lemony that it’s a serious rival to the crisp, delicate flavours of (gasp!) a Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is a world away from the heavy Hunter Valley aged semillons you may have tried before. Give it a whirl.

Cost: $28.00 a bottle


2. Mistletoe Chardonnay

Oh, chardonnay. Poor chardonnay. She’s like the girl at the ball waiting for someone to ask her to dance. Chardonnay is so out of favour right now that it needs it’s own national day – Chardonnay Day on 24th May – just to try to fill it’s dance card.

While Kath & Kim didn’t do chardonnay any favours either, this gorgeous, golden wine from Mistletoe is enough to make Chardonnay the belle of the ball once again.

It’s happily full of luscious stone fruit flavours, and there’s just enough toasty-ness to make you know it’s an oaked chardy, without feeling like you’re gagging on your hot buttered breakfast. If the Hunter could make more of these it would be doing itself, and Chardonnay, an enormously good turn.

Cost: $22.00 a bottle


3. David Hook Di Novo Rosso

This fun Italian style blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo & Sangiovese was definitely the most “new generation” Hunter wine of the evening. It’s like having a big warm hug from a gorgeous, exotic stranger. You just want to lick your lips and hold on tight. Pair it with Italian style food of all kinds and you’ll be one very satisfied woman.

Cost: $30 a bottle



How do you feel about Hunter Valley wines? Are we being too harsh? Do you have any favourites? Let us know by leaving a comment below!