There is a buzz about NSW wines at present. A few years ago, such an event would basically be about the Hunter, and only a few serious wineries. Now, there are a number of interesting new Hunter Valley wineries emerging, Orange and the Canberra District are firing up, and we may even find the odd great wine from another emerging district. And while Semillon and Shiraz still rule, Chardonnay and new varieties create interest as well. I was therefore not surprised to find a generally high standard at the Citibank NSW Wine Awards.
I did not get around to taste everything, but these were my impressions:
The wine of the event for me was the 2006 Thomas Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon. It showed beautiful lime fruit, elegant and smooth, with a long and precise finish. There is still good acidity left in this wine. If you are a Semillon sceptic, try this wine (94/+++ points).
The other winery from the Hunter which impressed was First Creek. The 2010 First Creek Winemakers Reserve Shiraz, from a difficult year for reds in the Hunter, is very soft and velvety, typical Hunter Shiraz, with a smooth finish. This wine has personality (93/++). The 2010 First Creek Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay was also excellent, with a complex blend of citrus and peach flavours (92/++).
The 2009 Mistletoe Reserve Chardonnay won the overall trophy. It is an elegant wine, but does not have the same depth of flavour as the First Creek, and the finish is a bit short, in my view (89/0).
The value wine is the 2011 Two Rivers Stones Throw Semillon at $16 from the winery (89/+).
Of the Orange Chardonnays, I preferred the 2010 Philip Shaw No11 Chardonnay (89) over the 2010 Printhie Mt. Canobolas Collection (86).
The 2008 Tyrell's Vat 47 Chardonnay lived up to its lofty reputation. It is in the citrus/lime fruit spectrum, smooth, but crisp with good length. The mouthfeel was slightly thin, though (92/0).
Of the Shirazes, the 2010 Eden Road Gundagai Shiraz was very spicy and fresh, but the mouthfeel left wanting (89/0). The 2010 Nick O'Leary Shiraz from Canberra ticked the boxes, but had little character (88/-). I am a bit tired of general purpose Shiraz, I must say. It needs to be outstanding or different.
The 2009 Lowe Zinfandel is from Mudgee. He claims to be a Zinfandel specialist. The wine is quite alcoholic and the high price more driven by scarcity than quality (88/-).
Much more interesting and a real find was the 2010 Mount Majura Tempranillo from the Canberra district. It had a nice cherry core and a soft mouthfeel (91/++).
A NSW tasting has to finish with Noble One. The 2008 De Bortoli Noble One showed the rich 'honey in a glass' to perfection. This is a big wine, but smooth and round as only the botrytis affected grapes from De Bortoli seem to be able to deliver (94/+).
Overall, this was an interesting and satisfying tasting. It is pretty safe to assume that the next few years will deliver a further improvement in standard and an even wider net of interesting wineries.