Jim McMahon

When was the last time you visited Mudgee? It was 1989 for me: I did my first ever wine show judging there as an associate judge and the rest, as they say, is history. There have been great changes since then, noteworthy among them being the Mudgee Food and Drink Trail, a journey across the food region’s best producers.

After the success of last year’s event it is on again, on March 25-26.

There will be more than 20 destinations on the Trail, including cellar doors, farms, orchards, cafes and a distillery.

“There are historic buildings, rustic cellar doors, along with the local cafes offering new and innovative products, cordials, beer, handcrafted shrubs, dukkah, wine and more,” the organisers say. “Not only will visitors taste Mudgee, but the self-guided tours give them a glimpse of the region, with its picturesque landscape, vineyards, farmland and waterways.”

Guests can buy Trail Passes to be used across the venues and there’s no limit to the passes anyone can buy to extend over one or both days. For details, click here.

Buy your Trail Passes ($40 each, including a dish and a drink) here or at the Mudgee Visitors Information Centre at 84 Market Street, Mudgee NSW.

Staying in Mudgee, we have the Robert Stein 2016 Reserve Riesling. When talking wine to friends and students alike, I’m always asked what constitutes a quality wine and is price an indicator. I always say that you need to have the right region for the particular style, good quality grapes, terroir, good vintage and pedigree of winery or winemaker.

Robert Stein Wines can trace its winemaking history back to 1838, when the famous Macarthur family (at Camden Park) brought Johann Stein to Australia with the country’s first vine cuttings of Rhine riesling.

Fast forward and 139 years later, in 1976, Robert Stein purchased 75 acres in Mudgee, and 2016 marked the family’s 40th vintage in Mudgee. Now you know what I mean by pedigree.

Today, third-generation winemaker Jacob Stein has produced this gold-medal-winning wine. It is pale lemon with a distinct green hue around the rim, and is perfumed with rose petal and citrus. The palate is rich and complex with white pear, apricots and musky lime flavours combined with definitive acidity, understated oak (rieslings usually don’t see oak and mature nicely in the bottle for years) which adds more colour, complexity, flavour and mouthfeel.

The finish is rich and intense with good palate length. A wine of immense charm, satisfying flavours and longevity which is assured (rrp $50). They don’t come any better than this!

Mudgee-based winery Huntington Estate has been delivering quality wine since 1969 and the Huntington Estate 2015 Special Reserve Semillon is no exception. The nose shows hints of apple, apricots and herbs and the palate has the same flavours together with grassy citrus and green quince. The palate, for a relatively young wine, is nicely textured with firm acidity and length. A "sit up and take note" style of wine. It will go the distance, if cellared well, for another 10 years.

What’s the difference between a hot climate savvy and a cold climate savvy? There are many, but mainly, hot climate savvies do not have the racy acidity and are more on the tropical fruit spectrum whereas a savvy from a cold climate is more green, grassy and herbaceous with racy or vibrant acidity.

The people at O'Leary Walker are revealing a little of their history with their 2016 ‘The Lucky Punter’ Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc: winemaker David O’Leary’s grandfather a former bookie at his local race track in the Adelaide Hills. You could be the lucky punter to pick this refreshingly crisp savvy up for $18 rrp.

The Padthaway region of South Australia lies 295km (or about three hours’ drive) south-east of Adelaide and in the main, the region is as flat as a tack. The area is 62km long and 8km wide with the Riddoch Highway running right through the middle of it. This wine region is 4000 hectares, with shiraz, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon being the main drivers. Reds make up half of all vineyard plantings, with riesling, sauvignon blanc and more recent varieties such as pinot gris and viognier now taking hold.

Here I offer you the Morambro Creek 2013 Padthaway Shiraz — deep purple in colour with a crimson hue, the nose offers herb, plum and blackcurrant notes with a whiff of vanilla oak. The palate is rich and intense with spicy aniseed, plum and blackcurrant. The wine waxes the gums and is soft and fruit-driven. The elegant structure is nicely balanced with a full-bodied, dry finish (rrp $35).

How many tempranillos do you taste from the Adelaide Hills these days? Answer: not many. This early ripening red grape variety has its home in Rioja in Spain and likes cold climates, so the Adelaide Hills fits the bill perfectly. Temp, as we call them in the trade, is made by seasoned winemaker Natasha Mooney who has many national and international gongs under her belt; here she has come up with a blinder of a wine in the La Bise 2014 Adelaide Hills Tempranillo.

Deep purple in colour with a light pink rim, the nose oozes spicy dark cherries together with herbal notes. The palate is firm and intense with those same black cherries dominating together with dark plum and spicy vanillin oak nicely intertwined. The acid/tannin oak structure is in full support of the wine and the fruit lingers and shines with a voluptuous full-bodied, dry finish (rrp $22).

Also from La Bise comes the 2016 Pinot Gris, a white wine style I particularly like. Light straw in colour with green highlights around the rim, the nose offers fragrant apple and white pear flavours. Honeysuckle, spice and a mineral twist are all part of the character of this grape variety and this particular wine and delicious it is too (rrp $22).

Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE