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Tim Stevens during vintage at Mudgee’s Huntington Estate … with a couple of willing young helpers, Lester Xiao Yang and Gage Loveridge.

April 14, 2018 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

As I did a couple of weeks ago with Lillpilly’s Robert Fiumara, I feel that I must start this column with a disclosure.

I’m a good friend of Bob and Wendy Roberts, who founded Mudgee’s Huntington Estate in the late 1960s, and still have lunch with them occasionally.

I was privileged to work the 1979 vintage with Bob — a vintage he described as his best to date — and my twin girls were conceived in the Roberts’ spare bedroom.

I don’t remember too many details of that exciting time, but I do recall seemingly endless tastings from a tank of semillon, and deciding, with Bob, that the wine needed the addition of a couple of grams per litre of tartaric acid.

While we agreed about the scale of the addition, we didn’t decide on who was going to actually make it.

So we both did. The result was the addition of four grams per litre of tartaric acid — and, according to Bob, the best semillon that Huntington had ever produced.

Late the following year, we drank some of that wine to celebrate the twins’ first birthday and Bob produced the most thoughtful gift imaginable — a dozen bottles of a truly unique blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot from the 1979 vintage, complete with labels that had been lovingly hand-typed by Wendy.

He had blended the red to what he considered the best that the winery had ever produced, bottled the dozen, then marginally changed the blend prior to the commercial bottling.

I’m just so glad that Huntington’s new owners, Tim and Nicky Stevens, long-time neighbours of the Roberts, have firmly resisted the seemingly ever-present urge to change things.

“My cellar is full of Huntington Estate and I’d be mad to change the style at all — particularly as I now know all of Bob’s secrets!” said Tim.

But, Tim, did you know about adding twice the acid to your semillon as originally intended?

WINE REVIEWS

Huntington Estate 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($29): The winery’s straight cabernet has been a hallmark of Huntington from the very beginning, and this wine, released at five years of age, continues the tradition. The fully ripe fruit has created an amalgam of flavours that include dark berries and mint. These have been subtly interwoven with vanillin flavours derived from maturation in French oak.

Baily & Baily 2017 Venture Series Riesling ($11): South Australia’s Clare Valley, from where this dry white originates, is one of riesling’s traditional homes Down Under. With its floral and limey flavours, this wine typifies the species — and is a natural match for freshly grilled bream. And it’s an absolute bargain at about $11 a bottle

WINE OF THE WEEK

Huntington Estate 2016 Special Reserve Semillon ($30): The variety’s trademark grassy flavours spring to the fore in this lovely dry white. The source vines are nearly 50 years old and producing at very near their best. The wine simply cries out for seafood of a fairly complex nature. Try it with a spicy crab dish, and please let me know how it goes.

Written by John Rozentals

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