NEW SOUTH WALES
The Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest vineyard area with vines first being planted in 1831. Vineyards are concentrated in two areas - Upper and Lower Hunter Valley. The Lower Hunter vineyards occur in the Brokenback Range area around the small town of Cessnock, 165 km north of Sydney and 35 km from the Pacific coast.
The area has a warm climate with a growing season temperature summation of 1800-2000 degree days. An important climatic feature from a viticultural perspective is the cooling effects of coastal breezes and the common cloud cover which keeps growing season sunshine hours to just 1650 hours.
The area is famous for its long lived Semillon white wines and its soft rich reds made from Shiraz. The Hunter Valley produced Australia's first Chardonnays in the 1970's and its soft opulent fruit driven style, added another staple variety to the area. Verdelho has been planted in the Hunter Valley for over 100 years but only in the last 10 years has it become popular as a single varietal wine producing a dry wine with spicy tropical fruit characters.
The Hunter Valley is one of Australia's best white wine areas and consistently wins a disproportionate number of awards in National Wine Shows.
Pepper Tree's Hunter Valley vineyard is in the Mount View area of the Lower Hunter Valley in the sheltered foothills of the Brokenback Range and covers 38.5 ha of plantings made up of 16.5 ha Chardonnay, 2.5 ha Verdelho, 3.7 ha Semillon, 7.5 ha Shiraz, 1 ha Viognier, 1 ha Sauvignon Blanc, 3 ha Merlot, 2.4 ha Cabernet, 0.5 ha Grenache and 0.5 ha Pinot Noir. The Mount View area contains 3 small protected subvalleys with highly favourable soils influenced by the large proportion of limestones in the underlying rocks. Terra Rossa clays over crumbly limestone and free draining red and brown clay loams cover hill slopes and are planted to red varieties as well as Chardonnay. Alluvial loams along the vineyard's creek flats are ideal soils for Semillon and Verdelho.
The Mount View area produces highly distinctive Chardonnay with flavours of melon, passionfruit and pineapple. Verdelho also performs well in the area with soft tropical fruit characters balanced by good natural acidity. Semillon has the usual lime-citrus characters with flavours being at the higher end for the variety.
Shiraz from the area is typically soft, spicy and elegant with a perfumed bouquet. Shiraz from a good year will age favourably for many years
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