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JOHN ROZENTALS tries some fine wines from a Hunter Valley project based on true love.

July 20, 2018 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

I’m sure that Wendy Lawson, of the Hunter Valley’s Catherine Vale Wines, would rather forget January 2016.

Firstly, the wettest January in living memory made for one one of the most challenging vintages in the district.

Much more importantly from a personal perspective, Wendy lost Bill, her husband, to cancer.

They had created Catherine Vale very much together, starting in 1989 when they bought a property near Bulga, and looking at photos of them together, they were deeply in love.

I’m really not sure how the 2016 vintage was managed by Wendy, but with the help of friends, it was somehow managed.

Since then winemaking has been conducted by John Hordern, a very experienced hand at turning out some top wines in the Hunter Valley.

Catherine Vale is located in a gorgeous spot in the Wollombi Valley and it’s fitting that it continues to turn out some impressive wines indeed. The winery, incidentally, takes its name from Catherine Lyndsay Haydon, Bill’s very assertive aunt.


Catherine Vale 2017 Arneis ($20): A simple wine that deserves simple, but tasty, food. Serve with a bucket of prawns and a straight-forward seafood sauce. The wine has enough flavour to handle the prawns and enough acidity to cut through the sauce. Throw in half an avocado, some vinaigrette, a slice of sourdough toast and you have a feast. Aren’t simple flavours just so fabulous? Arneis, by the way, is an Italian white variety from Piedmont and is gaining increasing traction in Australian vineyards.

Catherine Vale 2017 Winifred Barbera ($28): Barbera is another variety from Italy’s Piedmont district, though in this case red and much better known to Australian consumers. A perfect medium-bodied pizza-and-pasta dry red. Take a bottle to the local bistro — or, better still, serve it on the kitchen bench — and enjoy with a bowl of spag bol. It’s fresh and light-to-medium-bodied and ideal for washing down this sort of food.


Windowrie 2016 Family Reserve Shiraz ($35): “Our ambition is to be one of the top shiraz winemakers in NSW,” says Anthony D’Onise, winemaker at Canowindra-based Windowrie. Taking this premium shiraz as an example, he’s not far off that target. The wine certainly reflects vineyard and winery efforts to increase the depth of flavour in the Family Reserve range. It’s a fresh, juicy modern style of medium-bodied shiraz ideally suited to red-meat dishes.

Written by John Rozentals

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