Believe the hype, the 2014 Hunter Valley vintage really is that good.
Or at least that’s what I wrote back in 2015, when it was being bandied about as ‘the vintage of the century’.
But three years later, when the hype has died down and it’s time to ask the question – are the wines living up to expectations?
To test that theory out, here are three wines that I absolutely loved when I first tried them back in 2015 as pre-release bottlings. Now they’re in bottle and – dare I say it – look even better.
This trio capture all of the delight of Hunter Shiraz with balanced acidity and moderate alcohol. They’ll live for as long as you like and feel, well, real. Real wines, from some of the region’s finest vineyards, in a classic year, crafted by one of the Hunter’s best producers. Tick, tick tick!
For reference, here is the first tasting too.
Gundog Estate Somerset Vineyard Shiraz 2014
From the Somerset Vineyard, first planted in 1965. This is a classic Hunter Shiraz, with leather and fruit and everything. Earth, blood and bone but rich, Australian style plum richness. Shiraz richness. It’s medium bodied, there’s a flush of fruit sweetness but it quickly falls into a humming, earthen rythym, the fruit popping up its plummy head, then integrates back in. I drank multiple glasses of this unashamedly well balanced delight. Yes! Best drinking: Now to twenty years plus. 18.7/20, 95/100. 13.5%, $100. Would I buy it? More than fair for this sort of quality. I’d buy it. But probably the 48 Block first.
Gundog Estate The 48 Block Shiraz 2014
From fruit grown on the Tinkler’s Vineyard, which used to be part of Lindemans Ben Ean. Since I last tasted it, the oak has folded in and the chocolate and purple fruit is turned up to 11. The alcohol tastes higher than 13.4% but it’s not warm. Just enveloping richness. There’s a concentration here, a wallop of dark fruit. It’s almost unusually ripe and black for the Hunter, but then there is this fine, chocolate dust tannins. The more you come back to this, the more it delivers some magic. Hunter red for the ages. Best drinking: Again, now to twenty years easy. 18.7/20, 95/100. 13.4%, $100. Would I buy it? I can’t buy any wine but so tempted buy this. Not cheap but great.
Gundog Estate Old Road Shiraz 2014
From Will’s Hill Vineyard. Last time I loved this, but today it’s a bit more subdued. More jubey fruit and it feels more dusty and old school in its style. In an odd place as the black fruit feels like it plays catch up. There’s this supreme core of black fruit though, and the finish is impeccable. So black and backward. Classy tannins too. I ended up coming back to this and deciding it’s only a smidgen behind the other two wines. Best drinking: I’d wait a year or two, then twenty years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.6%, $100. Would I buy it? I’d go 48 Block or Somerset first.