Wise Words On Wine

Ever wondered what the brains behind your favourite wines actually drink on their nights off? explore DRINKS sat down with two of the leading minds behind the Hunter Valley’s wine industry to find out their go-to drops, what to expect from their latest vintages and what’s on their horizons business-wise.

Adrian Sparks, winemaker at Mount Pleasant Wines








Winemaker, Mount Pleasant Wines 

What are your current vintage releases?

We’ve just launched our 2017 Lovedale 1946 Vines Semillon, a small parcel from the old vines released young, and the only time people get to taste Lovedale as a young wine. Wines made from old vines have much more power and intensity than wine from younger vines, and to taste these young and fresh is an experience.

We also have our 2009 Elizabeth Semillon available at the cellar door. This is a beautiful wine from a vintage that was a stand out for a cool ripening period and dryness, which has resulted in an elegant, intense, beautifully aged wine that is drinking perfectly right now.

Plus we have just released the 2016 Mountain C from our Mountain Range collection that celebrates Maurice O’Shea’s legacy of naming wines by style, rather than variety. It’s a light-bodied dry red, full of vibrant red fruits and subtle spice.

What are you drinking right now?

There are so many interesting and innovative winemakers doing some really great things at the moment, we’re so spoilt for choice! Something I’m getting really excited about going into summer, however, are the young semillons. It’s such a bright and refreshing style, full of elegant citrus fruit flavours that pair so beautifully with amazing Aussie seafood.

Another great summer drinking option is lightly chilled, young pinot noirs. It’s a great drink for people who aren’t big white wine drinkers, and want to enjoy a red in summer. The bright red fruits and silky tannins become incredibly moreish after some chill time in the fridge.

Another favourite of mine, that can’t be overlooked during summer, is the great Aussie chardonnay. From the old school buttery style, to the more austere and mineral-based marvels of the southern states, chardonnay never fails to surprise me with the different ways it can be expressed and enjoyed.

What’s new in your region and/or your winery?

Mount Pleasant has always been known for its innovative nature, ever since Maurice O’Shea was making table wines when Australia was a fortified nation.

This innovation is something we’ve been thrilled to carry through in how we develop our winemaking and vineyards. Most recently, we have invested in some amazing Mediterranean varietals that are thriving in the Hunter, including tempranillo, fiano, sagrantino, mencia and touriga. We already have a selection of these wines in our experimental B-side range, available at our cellar door and online store. Each wine has offered our team the chance to show a different way of looking at Hunter Valley wines, and the results are pretty special.

Michael Hatcher, sales and marketing manager at Tumblong Hills next to wife and winemaker for Cockfighter’s Ghost, Xanthe Hatcher









Sales & Marketing Manager, Tumblong Hills

What are your current vintage releases?

We have three rather significant wines joining our ‘Table of Plenty’ range. ‘Table of Plenty’ is a range that exclusively features grape varieties of Mediterranean origin. We are releasing a fiano, sangiovese rosé and a sangiovese red table wine to complement the existing barbera and nebbiolo.

We’ve seen that our consumers seek a journey and an experience in the wines they drink, and many have found the ‘Table of Plenty’ range a welcome and interesting change to the usual shiraz and cabernet.

What are you drinking right now?

I follow the wines that feature at wine shows, to some extent. Cockfighter’s Ghost Sangiovese received praise in Melbourne last week, and it’s a pretty fine drink. My first winemaking mentor in the industry, Greg Gallagher, recently won a Best Riesling trophy, so when it arrives I’m looking forward to a lazy Sunday afternoon with a bottle of that.

What’s the next big focus for Tumblong Hills?

With our distributors, Cru Wines, we will continue to deliver our flavour diverse ‘Table of Plenty’ wines as the perfect, affordable dining accompaniment.

And of course, the festive season wouldn’t be quite so special if it wasn’t for Champagne! I’m really loving Champagne rosé at the moment, it’s got enough body and flavour to keep me interested, while still delivering that impeccable elegance that only comes from Méthode Champenoise.

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