Top Five NSW Wines of 2016

William Wilson
19th Dec 2016

Top Five New South Wales Wines by ICC Sydney’s Beverage Operations and Cellar Manager, William Wilson

Opening this month, the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) is Australia’s premier convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct. The world class venue will feature an exquisite 93 bottle Wine Collection, with 80 per cent of the list hailing from New South Wales.

Here, ICC Sydney’s Beverage Operations and Cellar Manager, William Wilson, discusses his selection process and five favourite drops.

If you’ve visited Darling Harbour recently you will have noticed its transformation, with ICC Sydney at its heart. This dramatic change is not unlike that of the wine industry of New South Wales (NSW) – something that is close to my heart.

At ICC Sydney we are committed to working with NSW producers to deliver outstanding, healthy dishes that are ethically sourced and bursting with flavour. This local emphasis is mirrored in our wine list. It includes drops from some of the State’s larger family owned winemakers including Tyrrell’s, De Bortoli and McWilliams, plus emerging suppliers like Chalkers Crossing, Silkman, Brangayne and Long Rail Gully, all of whom produce cracking wines.

To create the ICC Sydney Wine Collection, I led an expert panel in blind tasting more than 1,000 wines in seven days - it’s a hard life. That week proved to me that the quality of wines from NSW has improved immensely over the last decade.

While NSW’s mature wine regions continue to excel, the big story for me is the quality coming out of younger areas like the Southern Highlands, New England, Canberra District, Hilltops, Tumbarumba and Orange.

There are so many fantastic regions and wineries that it’s tough to pick just five to highlight, but here they are.

2015 Printhie Vintage Brut, Orange, NSW
If you went back a decade, you wouldn’t find much sparkling wine coming out of Orange. A couple of weeks ago however, Printhie took out the Best Sparkling wine at the Melbourne Royal Wine Show with their Swift label. I preferred this drop, as it’s so zesty and fresh with a hint of rosewater on the nose, followed by green apples and lemon. It’s great for starting a meal with and offers exceptional value.

2014 Allandale Tempranillo, Hilltops, NSW
Allandale has been producing wine in the Hunter Valley since the 1970’s and has recently started to complement their classic Hunter Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz with alternative varieties from other NSW regions. This take on the classic Spanish grape stood out with a vibrant violet nose, black cherries, and sweet black grapes with a fresh lifted red cherry finish.

2016 De Iuliis Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW
The Hunter Valley is rightly famous for its aged Semillons. More recently, a number of exciting winemakers have started to produce young and fresh versions highlighting the variety’s zesty acidity. The young Semillon from De Iuliis (pronounced de-you-lee-us) is a real showstopper. The aroma bursts with fresh tropical fruit and lime juice, and the light body features an array of citrus characters. It suits any occasion, so forget about sticking to the usual Sauvignon Blanc.

2016 Lark Hill Dark Horse White Blend, Canberra District, NSW
This blend of Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier really stood out amongst some fantastic drops during the tasting. That it is from a certified biodynamic and organic vineyard is an added bonus. The Dark Horse wines come from Murrumbateman, just north of Canberra, one of the most exciting regions in NSW. The liquid is pale and fresh with a floral honeysuckle aroma, followed by apricots with a rich body and some fresh green apple acidity to finish.

2011 Toppers Mountain Nebbiolo, New England, NSW
I would never have expected to run a blind tasting where the highest scoring Italian style wine came from 50 kilometres North of Armidale in New England. Toppers Mountain is one of the older vineyards in the region and has a brilliant range of award winning alternative varieties. Nebbiolo is a very difficult grape and needs a lot of skill in the vineyard to get the best from it and this really surprised me. The nose has rose petals and red cherries with more fresh red fruit on the palate and a lingering tannin aftertaste – a perfect match for charcuterie.