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By the usual measures the Hunter Valley, a couple of hours north of Sydney, is not perfect for vineyards. It is bordering on too warm in summer and the rains often come at inconvenient times.

Ah, but in good seasons the results can be magnificent.

The history goes back almost two centuries and winelovers today consider themselves blessed to have tasted such wines as the McWilliams Maurice O’Shea reds from the 1940s and 50s and the Lindemans Bin 3110 and 3100 from 1965. Semillon and shiraz are the grapes that perform best here.Hunter Semillon is often shy and acidy in its infancy but it one of the few white wines of the world that can age for many decades acquiring a luscious golden toastiness along the way.Shiraz can also be modest in its youth but in good years goes on and on, building complexity under lovely fruit.There are a few wineries that have been in family hands for five generations and then there are the newer guys.

Well. Not that new.

In the early 1970s Brokenwood was the idea of three Sydney lawyers, passionate winelovers who were not scared of hard work: Tony Albert, John Beetson and James Halliday. They bought a block of land, cleared and planted it.

Summer Vineyard Brokenwood

They were helped by local heroes Murray Tyrrell and Len Evans. The grapes from first vintage in 1973 carried in buckets in the back of Evan’s Bentley. Friends came on weekends to help pick and prune. After a cruel day in the field they were treated to a magnificent dinner with a generous lashings of great wines before bunking down on the winery floor. In 1978 new partners joined enabling them to buy the vineyard next door. It had been marked for a cemetery in the original District plans but never used and was then planted to vines. Grapes from this vineyard now make up their flagship wine bravely called Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz.

It is one of Australia’s outstanding wines

GraveyardVineyardShiraz_DVAround this time they began to source grapes from across the country and today’s line-up of Brokenwood wines features a fine selection of whites and reds from the Hunter and other premium districts.

Starting very soon, This Magnificent Life is giving you the chance to win a stay at Brokenwood Villa at Cypress Lakes Resort plus a VIP tour and tasting. Stay tuned, we’ll announce details, any minute.

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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We acknowledge the Turrbal people, as well as the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work. We respectfully recognise Elders, past, present, and emerging, and that Indigenous Sovereignty was never ceded.

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