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The pick of the Hunter

Overall I tasted some 103 wines; fortunately I was spitting. Here is my selection of 12 of the best -- this mixed case would provide some superb drinking over the next few years.

Meerea Park 1997 Alexandra Munro Shiraz (A$40)
Massively concetrated wine with red/black/puple colour. Rich, with strong menthol tones. Spicy and dense, this is currently pretty tannic and needs time to show its best. Excellent.

Chāteau Pāto Shiraz 1998 (A$32)
Knockout intensity. Soft, concentrated and spicy. Absolutely sensational menthol-laced wine: tannic and stunning; incredibly good. Excellent.

Petersons Back Block Pinot Noir 1998 (A$33.00)
Deep red purple colour. Rich and intense wine with firm tannins and ripe red fruits. There's some oak and plenty of complexity. Stunning stuff, and unusually big and structured for a Pinot. Excellent.

Petersons Back Block Shiraz 1998 (A$36.00)
Concentrated red/black colour. Intense nose; herby and rich with some oak evident. On the palate it is ripe, rich and concentrated. Needs some time to show its best, but has the potential to become sensationally good. Excellent.

Glenguin Shiraz Individual Vineyard, Hunter Valley 1998 (A$30.00)
Deep purple/black colour. Lovely lifted nose, with some porty, herby notes. Great concentration. Rich, soft wine but with some sweet oak and structure. Very good+.

Brokenwood Mistress Block Shiraz 1998 (A$40)
Single Vineyard Hunter Valley. Tannic with rich fruit. Concentrated, super stuff that really needs cellaring time to show its best. Very different to the Brokenwood Rayner Vineyard Shiraz in character, which comes from the McLaren Vale.

Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Chardonnay 1998 (A$34.50)
This is a single-vineyard Hunter Chardonnay that spends 12 months in new French oak. There is a huge nose of butterscotch and tropical fruit. Spicy and complex, this superb wine is concentrated and delicious. Excellent.

Scarborough Pinot Noir NV (A$20)
Only 400 cases or so of this wine was made, and it is mostly 1996 fruit, with some younger wine blended in for freshness. Soft, dense red berry fruit (strawberry and plums dominate), but with underlying tannic structure. Full flavoured and quite dense for a Pinot Noir. I bought some of this. Very good.

McWilliams O'Shea Chardonnay 1996 (A$29)
8 months of French oak. I was really impressed with this wine. Lovely rich nose, complex and toasty. On the palate the rich fruit is combined with well handled new oak, to give an intense and powerful wine. Very good/excellent. Well priced too.

And made by Hunter producers from fruit grown elsewere...

Brokenwood Rayner Vineyard Shiraz 1998 (A$45)
Made with McLaren Vale grapes. Richly fruited, with spicy oak. Dense with soft tannins, this is already approachable. Displays the trademark McLaren Vale character of soft, chocolatey, dense fruit. Superb.

Lindemans Padthaway Chardonnay 1998 (A$15.50)
Not from the Hunter, but instead from a cooler region in South Australia well known for producing great Chardonnays. I was really impressed by this wine. Fully barrel-fermented. Deep yellow colour. Complex fruit flavours combined beautifully with new oak. Rich, intense and concentrated, with figgy, tropical fruit and spice notes. Superb stuff. Very good +

Lindemans Pyrus 1995, Coonawarra (A$39.50)
Leaving the Hunter and moving to South Australia, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. It is seductive stuff. A big, minty, leafy nose gives way to soft, mint and berry flavours of great intensity and concentration. Tasty stuff. I'd drink this now while it still has the lovely intensity of fruit. Very good +