During a fleeting visit, I checked in at Huntington Estate, Robert Stein and Robert Oatley.
At Huntington, I tasted their leading reds. The 2011 Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is varietal, but not very intense and the tannins are a touch harsh (88 points). The 2009 Tim Stevens Shiraz is sweet and fruity, with a soft finish (89 points). The 2011 Special Reserve Shiraz is red fruited, a bit more elegant, but not totally balanced (90 points).
Robert Stein is best known for its Rieslings, but I skipped those and tried the 2013 Reserve Chardonnay instead. This is a richer style, flavours are citrus, apple, and cream, with quite noticeable oak on the finish (91 points). The 2011 Reserve Shiraz tastes of red plum, but suffers like many 2011s from a lack of concentration. The finish is firm, and not very charming (90 points). I marginally preferred it to the Huntington reds. The 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz uses the best barrels of both varieties. It is plummy and has some spice. The Cabernet adds good structure. This wine has a pleasant mouthfeel (92 points).
The irrepressible Robert Oatley is building a sizable wine business again. Their location is the oldest winery in Mudgee, but the first tier wines, called Finistere, come from Margaret River. This is partly because their chief winemaker is Larry Cherubino, based in Margaret River, of course, but also because the Mudgee fruit is simply not as good. The 2014 Finistere Chardonnay, made with wild yeast, tastes of tropical fruit, with oak vanilla also present. This is not a complex wine, but it is well made (92 points). The 2012 Finistere Cabernet Sauvignon is ripe and a little minty. The structure is a little harsh (90 points).
These days, the red wines from Mudgee don't match the leading Australian wine regions. I heard it said that the future might be in alternative varieties. I fear this is only a hope, because Australia has not yet identified where the best locations for these are. I doubt they are in the Mudgee region. What will the future hold for the Mudgee wineries?