A Journey through the vines at the "Taste of the Hunter Valley"...

“Deeply fascinating with rich overtones of enjoyment and a long, memorable finish”- Hunter Valley Tourism Association

As an iconic region of Australia, it seemed natural to take our tastings through the vines of our closest wine producing neighbour. With a plethora of wineries to choose from it seemed a daunting task to select just two! So I let myself be guided by my palate.. "Hunter Semillon and Shiraz is something not replicated in any other wine region" Anthony Gismondi. After tasting my way through the region.. armed with tasting notes and the distinct taste of wine on my tongue.. the Taste of the Hunter Valley was born. Audrey Wilkinson's 2010 Cuvee Blanc on ice... the pungent aromas of the Golden Washed Rind from the Hunter Valley Cheese Co... the room sat still awaiting our 50 guests for the evening.

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Served alongside the sparkling are Chef's handmade assorted sushi rolls of sugar cured trout, sweet egg and Shise Herb. The second canape was a skewered mini Binnorie Dairy Goat's Cheese Caprese Salad of vine ripened tomatoes with dehydrated olive and basil. The Audrey Wilkinson sparkling paired beautifully with these light, fresh canapes. With a fine mousse and creamy finish, this citrus driven sparkling is the perfect start to any meal or celebration! This is one of my personal favourite sparkling wines and is great just on its own too!

Once the bubbles were finished, the guests started taking their seats eager to try their next wine! Brett of The Far North, opened the evening and welcomed the guests to the venue. Winemaker, Jeff Byrne, spoke about his Cuvee Blanc and introduced himself as the winemaker for both Cockfighter's Ghost, Poole's Rock and Audrey Wilkinson.

Cous Cous
Cous Cous

Another representative wine style of the region is Verdelho. "The Tulloch name has long been synonymous with Verdelho" (Tulloch Wines. 2014). Brad Russ of Tulloch introduced his wine and spoke briefly of his position within the winery.

The next course of Prawn and Mussel Chermoula commenced the formal dining of the evening. With an entree packed full of flavour, the Vineyard Selection 2013 Verdelho could hold it's own and complemented the dish beautifully.

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While diners polished off the last of their entrees, the homely waft of baking pastry spilled out of the kitchen into the dining room... The kitchen was a bustle of Chefs filling and topping pies with the final adornment of the H V to symbolise the Hunter Valley.


Served with truffled mash, this golden crusted Beef Cheek Steak and Ale Pie evoked memories of the family table. This hearty meal called for a peppery red, or two. Audrey Wilkinson's 2011 Winemakers Selection Hunter Valley Shiraz with it's dark cherry notes and white pepper spice intensity worked well with this rich meaty course. Very easy to drink this wine is a must for your collection!

Tulloch showcased their 2011 Private Bin Pokolbin Dry Red Shiraz - a wine they are understandably very proud of! This premium bold wine was another great pairing to the pie. The hints of toasted oak and layers of velvet tannins this is a complex wine, balanced beautifully.

Blur Dessert
Blur Dessert

Looking around the room, there was a sea of content faces... but there is ALWAYS room for dessert!

Another showstopper... Lemon Curd Mille Feuille with crystallised rose petals... the spectacular dish speaks for itself.

The rich lemon curd married perfectly with the honey and lemon aromas of the Audrey Wilkinson 2011 Dessert Semillon. The acid of the dessert wine cut through the sweetness of the dessert balancing nicely on the palate. A crowd favourite! A perfect match by Jeff!

Becoming a signature of Taste.E events.. the grazing Cheeseboard. All locally sourced from the Hunter Valley Cheese Co, these cheeses provided a range of textures and flavours for our cheese lovers...

- Golden Washed Rind; a golden hue covered this cheese which adds flavour and texture to the cheese. It has a mousse like centre and a rough exterior - a perfectly balance cheese.. great with quince or fig paste

- Milawa Blue Vein; my personal favourite a salty blue with a smooth texture - perfect with the glazed pears or the crunchy, sweet honeycomb

- Braxton Brie; a soft, creamy cheese with a rich and oozy centre... mmm

- Harrigan's Cheddar; this smooth, creamy cheddar is stored covered in a light green wax

Brad and I spoke about the pairing for this cheese course and agreed on the 2011 Cellar Door Petit Verdot - a rich, spice dominant red wine that lingers on the palate as your make your way through the selection of cheeses... a great match for salty, hard cheeses like a cheddar or pecorino. Great on its own or with a cheese course!

Until Taste of Mudgee... happy eating!