The Hilltops Region (near Young) in NSW is increasingly seen as Australia’s ‘Little Italy’…for grapes. Think Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, Rondinella and Corvina – and most recently Fiano. Hear more about the origins of the region’s affinity for these varieties and wines on this podcast. Compere Jillian Upton of The Australian Wine Show talks with Brian Freeman founder of FREEMAN Vineyards…
2021 WINE OF THE YEAR – CORANG ESTATE HILLTOPS SHIRAZ 2019
The Hilltops wine region is arguably best known for its shiraz grapes and wines, and again this year the variety triumphed at the 2021 Hilltops Wine Show.
The 2021 Hilltops Wine of the Year and Peter Robertson Trophy has been awarded to Corang Estate Hilltops Shiraz 2019, the highest pointed and Gold Medal winning wine in Class 5.
Other high performing shiraz wines were McWilliams 660 Hilltops Reserve Shiraz 2018, Calabria Pierre d’Amour Shiraz 2018, Hungerford Hill Hilltops Shiraz 2019 and McWilliams 1877 Shiraz 2018.
Chair of Judges Gwyn Olsen singled out the shiraz class for its consistency of style and high calibre.
‘The Hilltops traditional hero red varieties are shiraz and cabernet,’ commented Hilltops Wine President, Brian Freeman. ‘Increasingly, winemakers from other regions are attracted to the quality of Hilltops cool climate grapes and are forging new expressions that impress.’
‘Hilltops grapes will again be in strong demand in 2022 and we look forward to seeing more out-of-region producers featuring Hilltops GI wines in their portfolios.’
Corang Estate in the NSW Southern Tablelands is a relatively young brand established by Jill and Michael Bynon. Their own sustainable vineyard was planted in 2018 to shiraz and tempranillo and they harvested their first crop in 2021.
‘We are delighted to be able to source grapes from the Hilltops and this award will be a significant boost to our brand development,’ said Jill Bynon.
Ballinaclash: Open from 13 Nov – Christmas.
FREEMAN Vineyards: From 1 November
Grove Estate: Open Now. Seated.
Lockwood Vineyard: From 1 November
Trandari Vineyard: From 4 December
And it hasn’t anything to do with tulips…
The 20th birthday edition features a come hither travel story entreating readers to head to the #HilltopsRegion… to explore winding country roads, rustic Cellar Doors, Pick-Your-Own Fruit, great pubs, cafés, bakeries…comfy cottages…bush walks… What are you waiting for?
Cellar Doors: Ballinaclash, Chalkers Crossing, FREEMAN Vineyards, Grove Estate, Trandari
The Real Review has just published its annual TOP VALUE Australian Wine List... and loud clapping is deserved for several Hilltops wine producers.
The big gongs go to FREEMAN Vineyards and Grove Estate for topping their varietal categories, wines chosen from producers across Australia rated best value up to $25.
NO.1 TOP VALUE Rosé: FREEMAN Vineyards Rondo Rosé 2020
NO.1 TOP VALUE Shiraz: Grove Estate Shiraz 2020
Other Hilltops wines earning Top Value recognition, notably for Shiraz, are Calabria Pierre D’Amour Shiraz 2018 and McWilliams 660 Reserve Shiraz 2018.
HILLTOPS WINE announces a new partnership with both ACT and NSW based wine companies that feature Hilltops GI wines in their portfolios. The new Wine Associates all market wines from the Hilltops Region. Eligible wines are required to be made from grapes sourced from the Hilltops Region (85%) and must carry the denomination Hilltops on their labels.
‘The Hilltops is still one of Australia’s best kept wine secrets, so we decided to invite our wine partners to join us in an endeavour to grow awareness of the diversity and quality of our region’s grapes and wine’, said President Brian Freeman.
‘The response has been really pleasing and will I am sure ultimately bring more wine explorers to our region, as they make the connection between a Cabernet or Sangiovese they may buy in Sydney, Melbourne or the Hunter Valley, that originates from the Hilltops.’
For a list of currently available Hilltops Associate wines go to: https://www.hilltopswine.com.au/wine-associates
The Hilltops Vineyards Association AGM this week re-elected Brian Freeman, founder of FREEMAN Vineyards, as President. His report highlighted both the achievements and challenges of 2021 – characterful wines from the 2021 vintage, followed by an unusually wet autumn and winter impacting pruning work.
New viticulture research was flagged as were plans for reinvigoration of regional Hilltops wine tourism when border and travel restrictions ease and Cellar Doors can again swing open wide.
Hilltops wines were featured recently in Gourmet Traveller and the Grapegrower & Winemaker – our region and its wines reaching more discerning wine lovers.
The Hilltops Region may constitute just 2% of NSW vineyards but according to sommelier Samantha Payne the region is nothing less than “small but mighty.” Punching enough weight to score a double-page spread in this month’s Australian Gourmet Traveller. Samantha’s Top 5 Picks include estate grown #FREEMANSecco2015 and #MoppityEscalierShiraz2014, and three wines crafted from Hilltops grapes by talented Canberra winemakers – Sam Leyshon Mallaluka Pet Nat, Nick Spencer Rosé and Bryan Martin’s Ravensworth Nebbiolo.
According to winemaker and viticulturist Brian Freeman, President of Hilltops Wine and founder of FREEMAN Vineyards, the key to the region’s special character is ‘an intensity of flavour’ found in all varieties.
Micro-climates also play a part. ‘The temperature and climate have very similar notes to Italy, making it perfect for slower ripening varieties like Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Rondinella and Corvina.’
For Canberra based Nick Spencer, ‘It’s the one NSW region you go to if you want something interesting.’ And more winemakers are doing just that, sourcing and making exciting go-to wines.
Hey wine explorers, next stop Hilltops?
Loud clapping deserved for the three NSW Hilltops wine companies that made the top tier grade in the just announced prestigious 2021 Real Review AUSTRALIAN TOP WINERIES collection. They are FREEMAN Vineyards, specialising in Italian inspired wines, Grove Estate that also features Nebbiolo in its portfolio and Moppity Vineyards.
Another indicator that the Hilltops cool climate region quietly punches above its weight! Visit us soon! www.hilltopswine.com.au
Gourmet Traveller Wine annually awards Australia’s Top Cellar Doors… and the 2021 Hilltops NSW winners are:
STAR Cellar Door: Ballinaclash
BEST TASTING EXPERIENCE: Freeman Vineyards
BEST LARGE Cellar Door: Grove Estate
BEST SMALL Cellar Door: Trandari
Be sure to visit the Hilltops wine region soon where the welcomes are warm!