If Semillon is the queen of the Valley, then Shiraz is our king. So let’s worship at the shrine of our favourite red grape, which makes the best kind of savoury, mid-weight, food-friendly Aussie classics.
The chewy, sweaty-saddle wines of the past are long forgotten, replaced by supple, vibrant, modern styles fashioned by a new(ish) generation of highly obsessive and uber-skilled winemakers.
Here are a few well-priced stand outs that show how far Hunter Shiraz has come.

Thomas Wines Herlestone Shiraz 2019

Putting his South Australian ancestry aside, few winemakers in the Hunter are as attuned to the idiosyncrasies of the local terroir as Andrew Thomas. He focuses entirely on single-vineyard Shiraz and Semillon, offering a fascinating variety of these two local heroes. This hearty delight is a sentimental favourite, as the 1968 Herlestone vineyard was an important part of my father Len Evans’s Rothbury Estate stable in the 70s and 80s. Fermented as whole grapes to maximise fruit vibrancy before ageing in older oak barrels, this is a beautifully structured, multi-layered wine that bounces with seductively silky tannins and spicy, fresh berry fruit. Thanks for the memories Thommo.

RRP $35 |

Charteris Hunter Valley Shiraz 2019

If you want to read some seriously poetic wine descriptions, check out the Charteris website. You had me at brooding wild berry, roasting pan and chocolate dust. PJ Charteris and his life/business partner Chrissie are certainly experienced wine communicators, and they also make terrific wine. This Shiraz is a bigger style made from the toasty 2019 vintage, sourced from gnarly, 50-year-old Pokolbin vines. Incredible concentration and intensity result. Pop into the groovy new Charteris cellar door at Peppers Creek to snap up this stylish and unique wine from some pretty stylish and unique Hunter characters.

RRP $45 |

De Iuliis Steven Vineyard Shiraz 2019

Another 1968 baby, the Steven vineyard was first planted by Penfolds and has sinced produced some of the Hunter’s most famous wines. It bounced between owners before settling with the De Iuliis family who totally get the importance of these iconic Hunter sites, especially those with rich, volcanic soil. They first bought fruit from the Steven vineyard in 2003, then leased the vineyard before purchasing it in 2013 from the Roche family. Mike De Iuliis is another local larrikin whose boyish charm disguises some serious winemaking clout. He has turned the fruit from this hot vintage into an elegant yet fruit-forward, full-bodied ripper.

RRP $40 |

Hungerford Hill Classic Shiraz 2020

Owner Sam Arnout’s commitment to beloved Hunter assets such as Dalwood Estate, the Sweetwater vineyard and the Hungerford Hill brand is to be applauded. As is his support of gun winemaker Bryan Currie, who has created this cheerfully delicious Classic Shiraz, packed with sweet cherry fruit. A medium-bodied style with a serious backbone of quality, it is a definite crowd-pleaser that will suit every palate. Grab a case of great wine, enjoy the sculpture courtyard and treat yourself to a slap up meal at award-winning Muse Restaurant. This cellar door has it all.

RRP $45 |

Mount Pleasant Estate Grown Shiraz 2020

A lot has been happening on Marrowbone Road. The Medich family’s recent purchase of Mount Pleasant from the McWilliam family has seen an injection of much-needed capital, and change is evident across the board. A stunning new cellar door, reinvigorated vineyards and an overhaul of range and labelling indicate the new owners are serious about evolving this historic property. But respect for tradition and heritage is fortunately still at the core. This new estate-grown Shiraz sits alongside dear Phillip Shiraz, much-loved consort of Elizabeth Semillon. Winemaker Adrian Sparks has created a modern incarnation of the earth and leather classic. A distinctly regional wine offered at a very appealing price.

RRP $30 |