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Hungerford Hill Tumbarumba Chardonnay named NSW Wine of the Year

The cool climate of the Snowy Mountains has produced the top wine of New South Wales for 2006, with the Hungerford Hill 2005 Tumbarumba Chardonnay named the New South Wales Wine of the Year.

The wine, made from grapes exclusively sourced from Tumbarumba in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, was singled out by the judges of the NSW Wine Awards from a record 782 entries. It is the first time a Chardonnay has won the title (all previous winners have been Semillon or Shiraz).

Hungerford Hill’s owner, James Kirby, accepted the trophy at a presentation dinner in Sydney from the State Minister of Primary Industries, the Hon Ian Macdonald MLC. While Hungerford Hill is based in the Hunter Valley, the winery is committed to building the profile of emerging NSW wine regions including Tumbarumba, Orange and Hilltops.

And corks are being popped in Bowral in the Southern Highlands to celebrate the win by local winery Centennial Vineyards in the Sparkling Wine category.

Chairman of Judges, Jim Brayne, says the wins for Tumbarumba and Bowral reflect the enormous representation of cool-climate wines in the Top 40 of the state. Nearly half (19) of the Top 40 are from regions in cool areas that have only come to the fore in the past 10 years.

“This is the most diverse year we have ever seen, which shows a local industry that is kicking goals with innovative winemaking,” Brayne says.

Another Hunter Valley winemaker to reap the rewards of looking beyond home base is Peterson’s, who took two of the six trophies – Best Mature Dry Red for their Mudgee Glenesk Shiraz, and Best Sweet White for their Botrytis Semillon from the Riverina.

Mudgee dominated the red categories, winning the trophies for Young Dry Red and Mature Dry Red. The Hunter Valley featured in the Mature Dry White category, with the trophy going to the Pokolbin Estate 2000 Riesling — a variety not normally associated with the region.

“NSW winemakers are being increasingly savvy in producing what the market is calling for. Our winner is a good example. Elegant, Burgundian-style Chardonnay is in fashion right now, and the Hungerford Hill Chardonnay– at under $25 – is an absolute ripper,” Brayne says.

“The focus of the awards is to get more NSW wines on the wine lists of restaurants and shelves of wine stores, which is why we have a strong representation from the people who make these decisions on our judging panels.”

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