Towards the end of trade tastings, I’ve had enough. Trying dozens, sometimes up to a hundred wines has its obvious, unique challenges – even when you spit. The wines start to blur, along with my critical faculties. Oddly enough, it’s at this point in the tasting that the diamonds, gems, gold bars and flat out drop dead gorgeous wines can make an appearance. Am I under the influence? Possibly. But rest assured, I haven’t made a mistake yet.
Towards the end of one recent event, I spied a Rose – trendy label, friendly fellow pouring. With a weary expulsion of air and the thought, “I guess I should give it a go”, I took up my glass, looked, sniffed, tasted and spat. Well, not quite. I swallowed. The wine was the 2018 Hark Angel Rose from Harkham Wines.
Harkham Wines was established in 2005 with a philosophy unique in the Hunter Valley. The vineyards are farmed sustainably, without the use of fungicides or pesticides. This is difficult anywhere, but with the extreme climate of the Hunter Valley, extraordinary and almost unheard of. Hand picked grapes, wild fermented and without the addition of sulphites, hence preservative free. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration.
Harkham Wines works with five growers, making Shiraz, Semillon, Chardonnay and of course the Rose. All the vineyards are worked to the most exacting standards. The vines are old and viticulture fastidious; the sites are fabulous; the winemaking ‘natural’ and the results are wonderful and uncluttered in style. The Hunter Valley is my favourite wine region in Australia and it’s lovely to see a different take on wines, using the most simple ancient methods.
The wine that cleared the fog and quickened my heartbeat. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is the most delicious, sensual rose that I have tasted for a very long time. If I was to embark on an episode of wooing, it is this wine that I would bring to the table. Predominantly Shiraz grapes, handpicked and wild fermented the wine has heady aromas of crushed strawberries, cranberries and kirsch. Full bodied, juicy and with incredible vibrancy, the palate is awash with red fruits and subtle mediterranean herbs. Creamy, textural and tangy. Fabulous.
Named after Richie Harkham’s grandmother, this is a different take on Hunter Valley Shiraz. The grapes are sourced from a vineyard facing south east, which is very cool by Hunter Valley standards. Real energy here. Fabulous colour, and a luxurious nose of blue, black and red fruits. I couldn’t describe the wine as rich, but it is full bodied and juicy. Vibrant and pulpy with real tension and cutting freshness. Playful, yet utterly serious.