When I think of France, I think of romance, cheese, and wine.  Bad romance, but decent cheese, and decent wine. Equally, when I think of China, I think of good food, but disgusting wine (酒).  Anyone who professes love for baijiu (白酒) is either lying or probably a baijiu salesman. But despite what I think of baijiu, China is still indisputably its foremost producer.  Similarly,  no one does scotch better than the Scots.  And when it comes to wine, a glass of Chablis or a bottle of Bordeaux is simply without equal.  Or is it?

As France struggles to satiate the demand for its wines, especially from middle-class China, people have sought to find alternatives.  And they have, for good reason, turned to Australia. Australia, in my opinion, makes a jolly good drop.  And I am not alone in thinking that.  Wine exports are said to have grown to $2.1 billion per year, with 50 per cent of our highest-priced being consumed by China!

So where do we begin?  Well, let’s turn to somewhere close to home, at least for me; the Hunter Valley.

The Hunter Valley is arguably the best producer of Semillons or Shirazes!  At least, that’s what I think.  Of course, in regard to the latter, my South Australian friends might very well disagree.  So long as my Semillon is crisp, preferably served with a dozen Sydney rock oysters, I’m happy.

But then again, there’s no need to be a connoisseur or oenophile to enjoy a good Hunter wine: yes, there really is a word to describe wine lovers.  A good bottle of wine, is a good bottle of wine; as axiomatic and cliché as that sounds.

So, for the uninitiated, in what appear to be a quagmire of sorts, let me give you my take on the Hunter Valley.

Where is the Hunter Valley?

The Hunter Valley is but a stone’s throw away from Sydney; roughly two hours north.  Take a car, and enjoy the drive!  Along the way, I’d definitely recommend stopping off on the Central Coast.  Saunter along the beaches of Avoca, have a pint of beer and some fish and chips, and be on your way.  As you continue driving along the Pacific Highway, and as rocks and cliffs transform into woodland and endless pastures, you know you’ve reached ‘wine country’.

What is there to do?

If wine’s not your thing – not a problem.  From cheese, to chocolate, golf to horse riding, the Hunter has you covered.

Looking to get a few likes on that token Instagram or WeChat photo?  Look no further than the Wollombi Valley and its heritage-listed village.  It still retains many of its old convict structures!

Alternatively, if you’re looking to ply yourself with chocolate and cheese, have a drive around Pokolbin.  There are plenty of cheese shops that would be more than obliged to offer you a generous sample.  Having said that, guilt and lack of self-restraint always get the better of me, and I end up bringing back a tonne of cheese back home!

And if you’re staying overnight, why not enjoy a nice dinner somewhere?  But where?  Well, it seems odd to say, but surprisingly, the Hunter is home to many an award winning restaurant.  As someone who loves all things French, Bistro Molines offers some of the heartiest food in town.  However, Chinese food hasn’t quite found its way up into wine country yet, so I’d steer well away from any Chinese (餐馆)!

Where do we go for a drink?

Where do I even begin?  Why don’t I let you discover that for yourself?  Take a car, join a bus tour, explore the region!  However, everyone has their personal favourites, and I’ll leave you with some of my own.

Tempus Two

Everyone has to visit Tempus Two just to see it’s incredibly designed cellar door!

Tyrell’s

The Tyrell family have been making wines in the Hunter for almost 200 years!  They pride themselves on making some of the best Semillons and Shirazes in the world.

Brokenwood

A relatively new winery, Brokenwood’s tasting rooms are certainly worth a visit.  Give their ‘Graveyard’ Shiraz a try, despite the name, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.  Look at how happy I look!

So there you have it, a brief summary of the Hunter Valley.  I hope you get to travel up there some time, and if ever you do, let me know, and we can exchange tasting notes!

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Nick Yuen is a third year Arts/Law student, and the views expressed here are solely his own.


每当我想到法国,我就想到浪漫、奶酪和红酒。糟糕的浪漫史,但是奶酪和红酒依旧很好。同样,当我想到中国,我就想到美味的食物,和无法让人接受的酒。任何自称爱喝中国白酒(烧酒)的人,要么是在撒谎,要么是白酒推销员。但不论我对白酒的看法如何,中国毋庸置疑是白酒的重要生产商。就好像没有谁能比苏格兰人更会做苏格兰威士忌酒了。在红酒的问题上,一杯夏布利酒和一瓶波尔多葡萄酒就不是其他酒可以比肩的…至少人们是这么说的…

由于法国在满足消费者对其红酒的需求上有些力有不逮,人们开始寻找替代品,尤其是中国的中产阶级。他们将目光转向了澳大利亚,其原因显而易见。在我看来,澳大利亚做的非常好。不止我一个人这么想,据说红酒的销售额每年增长21亿澳元,而單單中国便在最高价红酒的消费市場上佔了50%!

所以我们从哪开始著手呢?让我们看看离家近点的地方(至少对我来说是这样):猎人谷。猎人谷大概是赛美蓉或西拉最好的生产地!至少我是这么想的。当然,我南澳的朋友多半不会同意我说关于西拉的话。只要我的赛美蓉口感清冽,最好再配上一打悉尼石蚝,我就很开心了。

但是,你不必成为一个鉴赏家或是品酒行家(“oenophile”:是的,真的有用来形容红酒爱好者的词)来享受猎人谷的好酒。一瓶好酒就是一瓶好酒,和听起来一样浅显和俗套。

那么,在这个对外行人来说有点像沼泽一样难以捉摸的红酒领域中,让我来说说猎人谷吧。

猎人谷在哪里?

猎人谷离悉尼很近,在北边两个小时的车程。开辆车,享受驾驶过程!在路上,我极力建议中途在中央海岸停留,漫步在阿沃卡海岸边,来上一品脱啤酒、薯条和炸鱼,然后再继续上路。随着你驾驶在太平洋高速上,并且随着风景从石头和悬崖转变为森林和草地,你就知道你已经到了“红酒之乡”。

不喜葡萄美酒?没问题。猎人谷还有应有尽有的活动任君挑选,如品尝当地生产的芝士、朱古力,或者去打打高尔夫球和骑马。如果想在Instagram或微信上传骗赞的美照,可以去卧龙比谷(Wollombi Valley)和它已列入世界遗产名录的小镇。镇里还保留了很多旧罪犯建筑。

如果身为吃货的你想要放纵于芝士和巧克力间,就该前往珀蔻滨 (Pokolbin)。那里有很多芝士店会慷慨地让你免费试吃。然而,吃到后来我每次都自制力尽失、罪恶感缠身地血拼了一袋袋的芝士带回家去。

如果你打算在猎人谷逗留一晚,不妨在哪里享受一顿美味的晚餐。但去哪儿呢?猎人谷自然少不了许多获奖的餐厅。对于喜欢法国菜的我来说,Bistro Molines总让人不失所望。然而中国菜还未得到当地人的欢心,我建议大家尽量避免去那里的中国餐馆。

去哪里喝酒?选择实在太多啦!自己开车或参加巴士团去探索吧!每个人都有自己喜欢的酒吧,而以下所列的是我的最爱:

Tempus Two

你一定要去看看那个设计新颖的地窖门啊!

Tyrell’s

Tyrell家族在猎人谷已酿制美酒差不多200年历史了!他们为自己制造的世界顶级赛美蓉和西拉以感到自豪!

Brokenwood

Brokenwood酒庄历史比较短,然而你不要错过探访它的品尝室。试试它们的特产戀木傳奇寶帝園西拉葡萄酒,英文名又叫Graveyard Shiraz (“墓地西拉酒“),这酒的名字听起来好像不太好,但是我肯定你试过后一定会喜欢。你看我这开心的样子就能想像到!

这是猎人谷的简介,希望你有机会到那儿旅游呢!拜访前联络我吧,我们可以交换品尝美酒的心得。

Nick Yuen是法律和人文科目第三年的学生。这文章全属他个人的意见和观点。Translated by Tammy Tang and Yiqing Sun