Hunter Valley’s Briar Ridge Embraces Mediterranean Varieties and New Growing Styles | Newcastle Herald

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A silent ray of sunlight shines on the lush, flourishing vines twisting and turning, through the relatively high vineyard of Briar Ridge in Mount View, in the Hunter Valley. Fresh shoots of the Spanish grape, albarino, grow just a few feet from rows of fiano, an intriguing Italian grape from the Campania coastal region. More often than not, these two Mediterranean descendants find favor in the palates of wine lovers from Hunter Valley, mingling freely on bench tops and tables with more traditional grape varieties, such as Semillon. “Taking a leaf from Chris Tyrrell’s book, the Hunter Valley is one of those wine regions where winemakers understand that to make the best you have to know the best, and I think that sentiment really applies to our vineyards. here in Mount View, ”says Briar Ridge winemaker Alex Beckett. Born and raised in the Hunter, Beckett has spent years learning the ins and outs of the wine industry. From selling at the cellar door, to winemaking practices and winemaking in the cellar itself, to obtaining a degree in viticulture from the University of Adelaide and obtaining several scholarships and rewards along the way. As a Briar Ridge winemaker, Beckett is dedicated to advancing the quality of winemaking by passionately focusing on changing the fundamentals of their production style. “In seeking to capture the essence and character of the vineyards and the vintage, I took inspiration from some of the great European producers who are leading the charge towards authenticity without sacrificing quality,” he says. “Recently, we introduced the use of ambient yeasts (rather than cultured yeast in sachets), to really let the site express itself, and we wanted to let the wines age longer in vats or in barrels in order to better shape them, and eliminate the need for bonding agents. ” The result is a recent release of white wines just in time for longer, hotter and wetter days. Zesty lemon with a crunchy nectarine crunch whipped by the salty sea spray brings a fresh feel to Beckett’s Briar Ridge Albarino 2021 ($ 30). “For me,” says Beckett, “a lot of the strain’s character is released from the skins, which gives off such an intense scent and texture.” Likewise, the 2021 Briar Ridge Fiano ($ 30), smoother than the rest, while retaining that lean acidic hold tinged with orange and honeysuckle, pear and freshly grated ginger spice. “The goal here was to really develop this lovely honey, waxy character, while using the natural phenolic compounds of fiano to shape the wine and give it structure.” An eye for the future means nothing without a trained eye on the past. The Briar Ridge Stockhausen Semillon 2021 ($ 35), made in honor of Hunter Valley wine legend Karl Stockhausen, is a classic thirst crusher, cut along lines of fine acid embellished with lemony floral blossoms and persistent lime. “’Sem’ is all about purity, for me,” says Beckett. “Similar to ’16, ’21s are great now, but I think they’ll really hit their stride in four to six years.” Our reporters work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:



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