I’ve long had a particular soft spot for Huntington Estate, which was established near Mudgee in 1969 by Bob and Wendy Roberts and became a leading light in the reawakening of the district’s wine industry after a century of sleepiness.Tim and Nicky Stevens … working to a proven formula.
After all, I worked a vintage with Bob during my college years, lived in the Roberts’ house for a couple of months and evidence of timing points to my twin daughters having been conceived in their spare bedroom.
Huntington, I gather, was one of the likely names registered by the late Len Evans and the syndicate which was to establish Rothbury Estate in the Hunter Valley. When he decided to move to Mudgee instead, Bob received permission from Evans et al to use the Huntington name.
The Roberts and the Evans remained firm friends and one year Len bought a couple of piglets and let them graze on the windfall peaches in the small orchard next to Bob’s and Wendy’s house. Best pork he’d ever tasted, was Len’s conclusion.
The wines, especially the robust dry reds, that Bob produced over many years set a high benchmark for the district and that standard has thankfully been adhered to by Huntington Estate’s new owners, Tim and Nicky Stevens, the Roberts’ neighbours who purchased the property just about a decade ago.
The Stevens reckon that their cellar is full of old Huntington reds that are developing magnificently, so why muck about with a proven formula? Quite right, too.
Huntington Estate 2011 Special Reserve Shiraz $36: This and the cabernet reviewed represent the pinnacle of Huntington’s reds and have been matured in oak and bottle for four years before release. It’s a full-bodied earthy red just starting to hit its straps but with many years of cellaring ahead of it. If you must open it, do so with the finest of beef. Visit www.huntingtonestate.com.au.
Huntington Estate 2011 Block 3 Cabernet Sauvignon $65: The 2011 vintage was wet and relatively cold throughout south-east Australia and Tim Stevens has done a marvellous job producing such fine, elegant wines from a difficult vintage that was in cases left hanging on the vine. Drink with rare baby lamb cutlets and spring vegies as they appear. Visit www.huntingtonestate.com.au.
Gartelmann 2015 Jessica Verdelho $20: Verdelho seems almost a Hunter Valley specialty, though there are also some great examples from WA. This is fresh, zesty and with just a hint of residual sweetness, and highlighted by flavours of melons, tropical fruits and citrus. Keep it in mind for some of the less spicy Thai dishes. Visit www.gartelmann.com.au.
Gartelmann 2015 Benjamin Semillon $25: What’s the first thing you do when served fish? Give it a squeeze of lemon of course. A glass of this will do the job just as nicely over the coming summer. It’s loaded with refreshing lemony flavours and really is a very good drink. It also has the potential for some serious long-term cellaring. Visit www.gartelmann.com.au.