Take a trip to the beautiful Hunter Valley with your significant other, and experience a romantic getaway featuring a bottle or three of the world’s tastiest wine.
If you’re after a loved-up vacay to celebrate your first or your fiftieth anniversary, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales is the place to go. Blessed with near-perfect weather and an abundance of natural resources, it’s a naturally fertile region that produces everything form world-class wine to a significant segment of the world’s coal.
Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley
If you need an amazing geographical fact to amaze your friends and ice-break awkward dates, get this: the Hunter Valley is actually part of a larger region, known as Hunter, and consists of three distinct subregions. These are Broke Fordwich, Upper Hunter Valley and Pokolbin. Pokolbin is also the name of a small town that is the centre of the Hunter Valley, in the zone traditionally considered to be the heartland of the local wine-making industry. Some of Australia’s premiere wine brands are within walking distance of the town’s centre.
Don’t stress – if you’re not a wine-drinker, there’s a lot more to Pokolbin than just vineyards. With activities ranging from horse-drawn carriage tours to hot-air balloon excursions, there’s a whole range of exciting adventures to be had. Like a day on the green or soaking in a spa? The town’s also home to championship golf courses and world-class luxury retreats. There’s something for almost everyone in Pokolbin, and, for everyone else, there’s plenty of wine.
Keep calm and have a wine
As a wine-producing region, the Hunter Valley holds its own with global competitors like the south of France and Napa in California. Its unique atmosphere also sets it apart. Regardless of whether you’re a casual drinker or a dedicated connoisseur with dozens of bottles in your electronically thermo-regulated cellar, you don’t need to be worried about wine-snobs in the Hunter Valley. The laid-back Aussie attitude of its residents means everyone’s welcome (even if you don’t know the Latin name for noble rot).
Unsurprisingly, the weather tends to verge on the spectacular side of lovely in the Hunter Valley. It’s wonderfully warm (averaging between 21°C and 27 °C in summer), but without the humid or harsh heat that other parts of Australia experience.
So we’ve talked about the town, the residents and the weather, but what about the wine? Although virtually every traditional vine variety is grown in the Hunter Valley, its lively Semillon wines are recognised as the region’s champion white.
Colloquially referred to as ‘Hunter Valley Riesling’, Hunter Valley Semillon is one of the most well-known wines in the world, and the defining product of the area. The berry known as the ‘green grape’ was one of the most popular in the world in the early 1800s when it was brought to Australia, but, over time, dwindled in popularity and fell from favour.
Potentially, this neglect stemmed from dry Semillon’s requisite ageing – it can be enjoyed as a sharp, young wine, but it benefits from longer bottling periods. At the 5-year mark, it develops a richer, deeper profile, with notes of honey and toasted nuts. One of the key traits of Hunter Valley Semillon is its capacity to retain its original taste as it ages; even with the introduction of more rounded flavours, it still exhibits pings of acidity and the characteristic minerality of the Hunter region.
Here are a couple of ways to enjoy the Hunter Valley’s Semillon:
- As a young wine, with citric and grassy notes.
- As an older wine, with a deepened profile reminiscent of oak barrelling.
- As a dessert wine, with the sweetness that results from botrytis cinereal (noble rot).
No matter what type you like to drink, Semillon is best enjoyed with seafood like fish, prawns and bugs, so make sure you’re comfortably ensconced in a upscale seafood joint before you open a bottle.