For information about the Lovedale wines at cellar doors in 2013
“good wine carrieth a man to heaven” Anglo-Saxon Proverb
Does “good wine” come from the terroir (earth or soil)? Hugh Johnson and James Halliday describe terroir as part of a “tripod that describes the key aspects by which all fine wine is judged." The three 'legs' of the tripod are;
Character - which is defined by Terroir.
Quality - which is defined by winemaking.
Personality - which is defined by weather (not climate).
The Vintner’s Art: How Great Wines Are Made (1992)
Character - runs deep, which evokes the perfect image of the role of terroir in the making of fine wine. Character is like the value systems that we learn from our parents, unique lessons taught over a lifetime that creates the individuals that we are. Terroir is that set of elements that craft the character of wine, creating the truly distinguishing features that define the differences between Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Bordeaux versus Cabernet Sauvignon grown in California. Personality connotes mood, which varies from moment to moment, like the effect of weather on a particular wine vintage
Quality - weather can destroy a vintage or create the “vintage of the century,” but climate determines which grapes can be grown to maximum success in a particular region. The uniqueness of a wine’s personality from year-to-year is defined by weather, not climate. Climate is the long-term averages of weather conditions in a particular region, whereas weather is the day-to-day fluctuations of those climatic averages. The climate of the Hunter Valley is sub-tropical with maritime influences from the Pacific Ocean. As much as 400–530 mm of rain can fall during harvest months in the Hunter Valley, creating all kinds of viticultural hazards.
The most widely planted grape varieties in the Hunter Valley are Chardonnay, Semillon and Verdelho among the whites and Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot among the reds. According to Murray Tyrrell of Tyrrell Vineyards, one night he jumped the barb wire fence of Penfolds, pruned a couple of cuttings from Penfolds' vines and planted them in his vineyard. James Busby's collection is the likely origin of Hunter Valley Shiraz and today the Hunter Valley is home to some of the oldest own rooted Shiraz vines in the world with some vineyards boasting vines that are in excess of 120 years of age. Other lesser known varieties such as Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Viognier have also been sucessfully planted here in recent years demonstrating the Hunter Valley not only has history and heritage but also versatility and adaptability.
The soil profile of Allandale Winery, situated at the southern end of Lovedale, is sandy aggregate loam topsoil over medium clay which results in ideal soil conditions for the Semillon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir planted there. The Semillon in particular has won numerous awards since being planted some 30 years ago and is particularly suited to this soil type. This soil type cuts through Lovedale and is often the soil profile found throughout the Lovedale area.
Semillon - Hunter Valley Semillon is the stellar white variety in the region. Semillon is at its delicate best when picked early to make a wine of ten to 11.5% alcohol and has ripe flavours at low sugar concentrations. This is the style of wine that best responds to age, during which it develops outstanding lemon curd and toasty complexity and becomes barely recognisable from its beginning. Some companies release their Semillons when only a few months old when they are crisp and lively, others keep some wines for bottle-maturation and release after five years or more when deepened in colour, rounder and softer in the mouth and have developed the brilliantly complex flavours of vanilla and buttered toast.
Shiraz - The Hunter Valley imprints its regional stamp on Shiraz wines. The typical young Hunter Valley Shiraz is a medium bodied wine showing red and dark berries, spices and plenty of soft tannin. With bottle-age, it becomes much more complex, with earthy, leathery overtones and a beautiful perfume. It also acquires a silkiness and grace, becoming a smooth, wonderfully complex and richly flavoured wine.
Chardonnay - Virtually every winery in the region produces a Chardonnay; some are complex, others are oakier. For those who have the patience the deep golden, buttery, opulence of aged Hunter Chardonnay is extremely satisfying.
Cabernet Sauvignon - Cabernet Sauvignon was re-introduced to the Hunter Valley by Dr Max Lake at Lake's Folly in 1963. Since then, it has been planted in almost every vineyard in the Valley. It produces an idiosyncratic style and some fine wines are made here from this grape.
Verdelho - Verdelho ripens early in the harvest and is made using the same methods as Semillon except that it is usually picked riper. It is bottled early and is usually at it’s best in the year or two after it is made, when it shows ripe, tropical flavours.