Sometimes it’s very hard for me to work out how wineries make money, especially the ones that decided to make excellent wines, but hold them back for aging.
Not just for special or cellar aged releases, like a lot of wineries do, but they age their wines as their standard practice.
Tucked away in Mudgee, north-west of Sydney and over the Great Dividing Range, lies Huntington Estate, a winery that bamboozles me as to how they can keep operating when they choose to release their reds with four to five years of age on them. Quality wines too, ones that will continue to age, not wines that are sub-par and a sales/marketing department hopes that someone will buy them to impress because of the its aged vintage. These are wines that have gathered a following over the years, and have garnered some pretty impressive awards and reviews.
Huntington Estate is mostly known for its reds, deep coloured and fruit concentrated. Their Cabernet and Shiraz have ripe berry flavours, spicy, floral and complex notes with firm tannins that settle with time in the bottle. In the whites, their Chardonnay shows tropical and stone fruit flavours, but it’s their Semillon that’s a standout for me. Huntington Semillon is quite different to that of world famous Semillons from the neighbouring Hunter Valley, its perhaps more of a cross between those Hunter Semillons, and a Yarra Valley or Adelaide Hills Semillon. It shows more of the fruit flavours you would expect to find in a great sem, while still keeping a lot of its natural acidity, making zippy refreshing wine, that can be long lived.
Huntington Estate was established in 1969 by Bob and Wendy Roberts, who had decided that Mudgee would be a better place to re-create the classic French reds he enjoyed; Bordeaux, Syrah (shiraz) from the northern Rhone Valley or Burgundy reds. Bob established Huntington on the site of an old run down orchard, pulling out the neglected trees and replanting with grape vines. Over the next four decades, with advice from his friend, a legend of Australian wine, Len Evans, he managed to create some of Australia’s best wines at affordable prices.
In 2006 Bob decided to retire, and sold his property to his fellow winemaking neighbour Tim and Nicky Stevens. The couple had caught the winemaking bug and moved from Queensland, where Tim was a journalist, and in 1996 had bought Abercorn, the adjacent property to Huntington.
The pair have continued to run the business, creating some outstanding releases, working on five guiding principles; the wines are Estate grown, made and bottled; the wines are built to age well; reds are released at four to five years of age; the wine is only sold direct, not through bottleshops, and; substance over style. Principles that have made them, possibly Australia’s best small winery.
Huntington Estate wines are definitely worth grabbing a few of to put away, or grabbing a few mates to go halves with. The reds already carry a bit of bottle age and are perfect for pouring at a Christmas dinner party, just remember to chill them slightly first.
Huntington Estate Shiraz 2013 – deep and dark in colour, blackberry and black olive noted on the nose over the top of some light dry, crushed leaf and leather notes. Some mulberry and dark plum notes over dry raisin and leather on the tongue, will benefit from decanting if drinking as a young wine, but will be best after a few years in a cool, dark spot, and will see around ten years in the bottle with careful cellaring. RRP $26
Huntington Estate Special Reserve Shiraz 2013 – richly flavoured and full bodied, if you like the sound of those words then grab a few of these, it’s an unashamedly big and ballsy, chest thumping style of wine. Intense dark plum flavours, dark chocolate coated raisins, black olive tapenade. It needs a bit of time to settle down, but if you like that style its ready to go now with nearly five years of age on it. Will still be going around 2040 with some careful looking after. RRP $36