25 September 2023

Mudgee shows its growth and diversity

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By John Rozentals.

I received a reminder recently of just how much the Central Western NSW winegrowing district of Mudgee had grown since the days I was working there as a young, recently graduated winemaker in the early-to-mid-1980s.

Mudgee Wine Show 2018 judge Pia Merrick and local winemaker David Lowe, holding his loot from the night.

The reminder came in the form of bottles of five different trophy winners from the 2018 Mudgee Wine Show.

Only one of the five producers was known to me as a participant in the Mudgee wine industry of those days, and even Robert Stein’s vineyard was still a small child that had only just produced its first wines.

Petersons, best known as a Hunter Valley producer, had apparently planted its first Mudgee grapes in 1981 but had certainly never produced a local wine in my day.

The producers of the five wines are all known to me — except for Haydn and Erika Harrison’s 1838 label, which takes its name from the year in which Mudgee was gazetted.

Indeed, I recall Robert Oatley’s Rosemount Estate, based in the Upper Hunter, buying significant parcels of Mudgee red grapes in the late 1970s and early-to-mid-1980s.

He’d tasted how rich the reds from the district could be, so I was hardly surprised when he decided to establish a vineyard at Mudgee.

The 2018 Mudgee Wine Show judging was done under the chairmanship of Mike DeGaris, with assistance from judges Annette Lacey, Usher Tinkler, James Horsfall and Pia Merrick.

Apart from the three wines reviewed, five wines tasted also included Petersons 2012 Semillon (trophy for the show’s Best Semillon) and Bunnamagoo Estate 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (winner of the Carlo Corino Trophy for Best Red Wine not Shiraz or Cabernet).

The late Carlo Corino, incidentally, lived across the road from me in Mudgee and was for many years the chief winemaker at Montrose Estate.


1838 Wines 2018 Classic French-Style Rosé ($25, winner of trophy for Best Rosé Wine): A summary in a glassful of the sort of wine we should be drinking just so much of in many parts of Australia so much of the year. Our climate, our lifestyle and, increasingly, our choice of food, so suit this dry, refreshing, zappy drink.

Robert Stein 2017 Reserve Chardonnay ($40, winner of trophy for Best Chardonnay): This wine soon loses the obvious oakiness it shows on first opening and reveals a stack of robust but round varietal characters in the stonefruit part of the flavour spectrum. It’s a spectacular wine that shows just why Mudgee is regarded as a natural home for chardonnay.


Robert Oatley Vineyards 2017 Pocketwatch Shiraz ($17, winner of trophy for Most Outstanding Red Wine of Show): for me, this is what Mudgee is all about — hearty, fill-flavoured dry reds. The name celebrates Robert Oatley’s ancestor, James Oatley, a convict and watchmaker who rose to become Keeper of the Sydney Town Hall Clock. The wine shows plenty of spicy, dark-berry flavours and will certainly reward medium-to-long-term cellaring.

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