I sense today is going to be a sweet, sweet day. The Hunter Valley is definitely not short on sweets, so if you’ve got a sweet tooth like I do, you’re in for a treat. From sweet wines to delicious desserts, I’ll be taste testing a few of the Hunter’s sweet options.
My first stop is the brand new artisan chocolate shop Cocoa Nib, the latest addition to Keith Tulloch Wine estate on Hermitage Road. Chef-turned-chocolatier Aymee Slaviero will tempt you with beautiful handcrafted chocolates – it would be rude to refuse velvety smooth truffles, especially when they’re served with a cup of locally-roasted specialty coffee or hot chocolate. My favourite is the praline truffle. Simply to die for. Don’t forget to take some chocolate home. You won’t regret stocking up on caramel and macadamia butter crunch.
Sweet desserts need a sweet wine, so I head over to De Iuliis Wines (pronounce dee-oo-lee-us) where I know winemaker Michael De Iuliis will have the answer for me. De Iluiis is a family owned business, the family has made the Hunter Valley their home since the 1960s. Their first vines were planted in 1990 but they didn’t start winemaking until Michael completed his postgraduate studies in Oenology in 1999. Since then De Iluiis have been producing wines of excellence and outstanding quality, especially their 2009 Limited Release Shiraz. Today Michael will show me a 2013 Late Picked Semillon which is a luscious dessert wine with concentrated flavours of honey, dried apricot and marmalade. It’s not overly sweet and has plenty of complexity. I can’t wait to match this sweet wine with a dessert at one of the most highly anticipated new restaurants in the Hunter Valley.
EXP. is the new kid on the block. It’s already making a lot of noise around the vineyards. Located in Oakvale Winery estate, EXP. restaurant is a new gastronomy concept that challenges you to embrace the food and wine dining experience in different ways. Owner and chef Frank Fawkner believes dining here is about the EXP.eprience, everything from the EXP.erimental taste of the food and wine to the EXP.ertise of the service. I particularly enjoy the chef’s table bar where I can peer into the kitchen and interact with the chefs while enjoying my meal.