The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

FIRST Creek Wines is the la­bel of Monarch Wine­mak­ing Ser­vices, which I be­lieve to be the most skilled con­tract wine­mak­ing busi­ness in NSW and, ar­guably, main­land Aus­tralia. Its three wine­mak­ers are Jim Chatto, Greg Silk­man and Ross Pear­son. When­ever I come across a small NSW win­ery pluck­ing top-qual­ity wines out of the air, I look to see who the wine­maker is. More of­ten than not it’s Monarch or specif­i­cally Chatto. Keep­ing all the balls in the air and fo­cus­ing on the core busi­ness did not stop First Creek from win­ning gold medals at the Hunter Val­ley Wine Show for four of its own wines, a 2007 semil­lon (not yet re­leased), 2006 Durham Chardon­nay ($20), 2005 Chatto Shi­raz ($35; a hy­brid, since it’s his own la­bel, though it was en­tered at the show by First Creek) and a sec­ond 2005 shi­raz yet to be re­leased. www.firstcreek­ James Halliday

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