Bordeaux, Hunter Valley

Bordeaux produces some of the most highly sought after and revered wines in the world. Located close to the coast, in the south-west of France the town and is divided by the Gironde River. Wines to the west of the river are referred to as left bank, and are Cabernet dominant. To the East of the river, on the right bank Merlot is the dominant grape variety. Throughout the 57 appellations, over 10,000 wine-making châteaux grow the red grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. These are commonly blended and collectively referred to as clarets. Smaller amounts of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in Bordeaux.

In 1855, due to the high export demands of Bordeaux wines, Emporer Napoleon III requested an official Bordeaux classification system, based on market costs of the wines at the time. The Chateaux were classified into five ‘growths’ from first growth to fifth growth and cru Bourgois. Also in 1855 The Sauternes and Barsac classification covered the sweeter wines, with Chateau d’Yquem the only Superior First Growth, followed by Premiers Crus and Deux Deuxièmes Crus.
Internationally, Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s two most well known wine regions, alongside Barossa Valley in South Australia. Located about a two hour drive north of Sydney, the region is very popular for weekend escapes from the city of Sydney.

Hunter Valley’s climate includes regular droughts or floods, seemingly less than desirable conditions to grow grapes, with the hot, humid summers and cool winters. Nevertheless, the region has been under cultivation since the 1800’s and is responsible for putting Australian wine, in particular Sémillon and to a lesser extent Shiraz, on the world wine map. Winemaking pioneers such as Bruce Tyrrell (Tyrrell's Wines) and Len Evans helped the region gain worldwide recognition.

The famous Hunter valley Sémillon was for many years known as ‘Hunter Valley Riesling’ and is never matured in oak. It is however one of the most ageworthy whites in the country with bottles showing an inordinate ability to age gracefully. Bottle-aged Sémillons will often exhibit burnt toast and honey characteristics, slight nutty notes and supremely complex flavours on the palate. This palate complexity is coupled with soft acidity and the finish can be very long indeed.
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