Small but perfectly formed

Let’s skip the puns about size and mattering. It’s true that some observers believe larger wine companies are the better performers on the wine show circuit. In reality, this is perhaps more to do with the force of their well-financed marketing machines. Quite simply, they have the resources to shout louder at results time. Small family-owned producers are too busy tilling the soil and manning the tasting bench to chase the media. But there are many with excellent wine show strike rates, or with significant awards that may have slipped under the radar. They surprise and delight everyone when one of their precious jewels snares an important gong. Here are some small yet big achievers from local shows held during the past 12 months.
Wine recommendations by wine expert Sally Evans.

David Hook Old Vines Shiraz 2014

An oldie but a goodie, made lovingly by Hookie at his Pothana winery near Belford, and available from his charming sandstone cellar door in the Peppers Creek Village in central Pokolbin. Fruit from old and low yielding vines is vinified in open fermenters, hand-plunged and basket-pressed. This extraspecial treatment has resulted in life-enhancing pepper and spice deliciousness, featuring tinges of savoury oak and lashing of dark blackberry fruit. This aged-release wine, which won a gold at the 2019 Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Show, will hit the shelves very soon.
RRP $85 |

Peter Drayton Anomaly Vermentino 2019

Echoing Peter Drayton’s reputation as one to challenge the expected, this most attractive wine hails from the famous Roxburgh vineyard in the Upper Hunter, a long way from the variety’s ancestral roots in southern Italy. It is a vibrant, lighter-bodied white rippling with a fruit bowl of lusciousness, bolstered by some grown-up savoury, mineral notes. Made by Peter and the talented Damian Stevens, it won a trophy at the 2019 Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Awards. No surprise there.
RRP $30 |

RidgeView 2017 Impressions Shiraz

A top-class single-vineyard shiraz from the Effen Hill vineyard in the northern Pokolbin/Rothbury district, where Dr Darren and Tracey Scott are winemaker and viticulturist as well as owners. It is a mother’s milk kind of Hunter shiraz from a stellar vintage: earthy, savoury, medium-bodied, showing a touch of cosy mellowness. Ripe, fleshy red fruit mingles elegantly with spicy oak to create this trophy-winner at the 2019 Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Awards, also a gold medallist at both the NSW Wine Awards and the NSW Small Winemakers Wine Show. A keeper in theory, though perhaps that will be just too hard in practice. RRP is $40 |

Gartelmann Benjamin Semillon 2019

This young semillon from Jan and Jorg Gartelmann’s Lovedale winery is a stunner. It was the Best 2019 Semillon at the 2019 Hunter Valley Boutique Wine and also a gold medalist at the NSW Small Winemakers Wine Show. Previous vintages have also seen much success. Many of the Gartelmann’s wines are sweetly named after family members, this one after both a father and a grandson. It is made from the Upper Hunter’s Glenesk vineyard and abounds with fragrant citrus blossom, zesty lime, delicious length and minerality. It will easily go the distance to become a lovely aged classic if you let it.
RRP $27 |

Carillion Wines Loveable Rogue Sagrantino 2018

Small batches of groovy Italian varietals, sourced from the elevated slopes of the company’s Tallavera Grove vineyard in Mount View, make up the cellar-door only Loveable Rogue range. Sagrantino is originally from Umbria in central Italy, and like its forebears this local version is a deep, dense red wine with firm tannins, a healthy love of oak and a surprisingly elegant finish. A great food wine for now, with the necessary grunt to age well. Winner of a highly coveted gold medal at the 2019 Hunter Valley Wine Show.
RRP $30 |