Site Information

 Loading... Please wait...

Tim's Ravings

Posted by Tim Stevens on

What defines wine quality?

My dad dragged out a bottle of ‘86 Grange for Christmas lunch. It was great, always is.

Between arguments over Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson (my Dad won, it was his Grange after all), we got to talking about this unique wine which over the past decade has evolved to be one of Australia’s biggest commodi ed luxury items. Miraculously while production has increased dramatically, quality and consistency has also improved thanks to the ability of the winemaking team to source fruit from many vineyards across many regions.

At the same Christmas lunch we also had a magnum of my own Single Estate grown, produced and bottled Reserve ‘99 Shiraz. This wine was not “perfect” but it was full of character, a true expression of place, and extremely enjoyable - packed with vibrant fruits, earthiness and complexity. Yes, I am biased, but my Dad thought so too. So there.

Australia’s most respected wine writer and critic, Huon Hooke, recently raised the issue of Single Estate vs Regionally Blended in an article where

a winemaker for a multi-national argued for the blends sourced from multiple regions selling for well above $50 per bottle. Blending was essential, he said, to make the ‘best wine we can’.

All of which begs the question ‘what defines wine quality?’. Do the aesthetics of regional, and even sub-regional, variation count for anything in this globalised world?

Robert Paul, former Mudgee winemaker and great intellect, fteen years ago hoaxed our local newspaper into running a front page story that he was o to the Ord River to grow and make a Grange-style wine in temperature-controlled hydroponic sheds. It proved quite prophetic.

I think there is authenticity and value in knowing and nurturing my own vines year after year, and using the grapes my team and I work hard to grow ourselves to make my own wine. A genuine connection and commitment to nature, speci c place and people lives in every bottle. I also enjoy the di erent expressions of the variety and terroir across the vintages of Single Estate Wines.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the ’86 Grange and I will happily drink it again given the good fortune. But for me, the spotlight of ‘Estate Grown, Produced and Bottled’ is a more important starting point for judging a wine’s aesthetic.

View Comments

Vintage 2017 - the story so far...

In a word, wet. Another word, bloody. Bloody wet sums it up nicely actually.The vines are as happy as pigs in muck, the Vineyard team not so much...With over 50 times more winter rain than last year so far, and more days of rain than not, pruning was an absolute nightmare to finish. There is [...]

Read More »

Vintage Report 2016

Happy vines make happy wine. And happy wines make a happy winemaker.So it was with the 2016 Vintage just finished.In one of my recent Ravings I may have given the wrong impression that I wasn’t happy when I moaned about all of the hurdles in front of us poor vignerons; from droughts to floods, frosts to heatwaves. [...]

Read More »

​Vignerons do not have a natural inclination towards optimism.

Vignerons do not have a natural inclination towards optimism, and I’ll tell you why.It starts in winter each when pruners brave freezing cold and bitter winds to prune the dormant vines. It takes many months and is always a race to beat Spring’s wake-up call for the sleeping vineThen comes budburst, when the vine starts [...]

Read More »

Dear Aunt Agony Wine...

Dear Aunt Wine Agony,I have a particular grievance that may be ruining my life. It prevents me from enjoying dinner parties and I am even afraid to invite friends around for drinks anymore. I am a social outcast, desolated by blandness.In short, the wines I see lately in bottle shops are overpriced, overhyped and just plain boring. The Wine World seems [...]

Read More »


Tannin is a strange beast, it is responsible not just for astringency and grip but also helps a red wine feel smooth and even sweet. The fact that one element can be responsible for both bitterness and silkiness is one of the most beguiling aspects of making wine.Mudgee – and Huntington Estate in particular – has some of the best, most [...]

Read More »

Mudgee Reds

Mudgee produces the best red wines in Australia.This is a claim that I am sure will be disputed by many but allow me some space to explain exactly why I feel this.There is no doubt our style of red wine is unique; we have high levels of high quality tannin and acid that can the [...]

Read More »

Old wines, old vines and me.

I have often spoken of the need for old vines to produce our wines. Here goes an attempt to explain why.Firstly, what counts as an old vine? There are no official definitions but the general view is that anything over 30 years is old, although some vines in Australia’s more historic districts have managed to [...]

Read More »

An exciting mix of craft and science…

A bottle of wine from a single vineyard is truly rare and special.All year, year after year, vines are rooted to the one spot, growing and ripening their fruit amid sometimes dramatic climate changes. This year it’s floods, last year it was drought.The vigneron requires discipline and experience to be able to react to the [...]

Read More »

How do you buy wine?

Buying fine wine today is nothing like it was 40 years ago. Back then, when Huntington Estate was established, there were merchants galore, mostly operating independent wine shops.These merchants travelled extensively through wine regions in Australia and overseas, finding the best wines. They discovered and nurtured winemaking talent and celebrated diversity, and in response the [...]

Read More »