Showing posts with label Semillon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Semillon. Show all posts

Monday, 23 May 2022

Hunter Valley Legends and Wine Industry Awards 2022

 

I was fortunate enough to spend the last couple of days traversing the Hunter Valley, Australia's oldest continuous wine producing region dating back to 1828, with a group of media delving deep into what makes the region tick. 

Most famously recognised for its incredible ability to produce the world's best Semillon, we took part in several masterclasses and tasted some 65+ wines. Shiraz, the other glamour of the region, certainly played its part - beautifully medium-bodied in all its glory, but a stand-out variety, and one that deserves more credit, were the stunning examples of Chardonnay. Very much sitting in the shadows of its regional siblings, Hunter Valley Chardonnay is an excellent drink and there are so many diverse expressions of it.

A tasting was also undertaken of some emerging varieties including Albarino, Fiano, Vermentino, Viognier, Touriga, and Sagrantino to name a few. 

Our first stop was at Tyrrell's to taste through 16 examples of Semillon. Hosted by Mark Richardson (Tyrrell's) and Andrew Thomas (Thomas Wines), a bracket of recent releases was followed by a bracket of 2013 showcasing how well Semillon will age. The best examples were uber fresh and you'd think they were bottled yesterday!

Semillon is a variety ideal for summer drinks in the sun. As Andrew Thomas said, "Anything you can squeeze a lemon on, Hunter Semillon is the way to go." That sums it up perfectly!

The stand out Semillons from around the region come off the alluvial soils found on the valley floor. A great take away was that cooler years have shown better long-term cellaring potential and warmer years lean to more immediate enjoyment. Andrew Thomas added that 2013 was the greatest Semillon vintage in the last twenty years.

Of the eight recent releases, the top picks were:

Brokenwood Oakey Creek 2021 (tank sample most likely heading to ILR), Silkman Reserve 2021, Thomas Braemore 2022, Tyrrell's Vat 1 2022. These wines showed soft, delicate citrus fruits, clean and well-handled acidity with impressive precision and purity.

The 2013 Semillons were absolutely incredible and have all shared their fair share of bling over the years. The best of the best were:

Briar Ridge Dairy Hill 2013, Brokenwood ILR 2013, Mount Pleasant Lovedale 2013, Thomas Braemore 2013. The freshness of these wines was incredible and really highlighted the ageworthiness of Hunter Valley Semillon.

Lunch was calling and it was back on the bus to Ben Ean, recently purchased by Brian McGuigan. As we arrived we were met by the man himself with a glass of Chardonnay in hand. Lunch was served and seven Chardonnays were enjoyed alongside an excellent feast. The pick of these was Tyrrell's HVD 2021. A runaway favourite, it comes off what are said to be the oldest Chardonnay vines in the world. Terrifically complex with a leaner drive, it's just magic. The Dalwood 2021 and Scarborough Keeper of the Flame 2021 (a new wine yet to be released) both stood tall and impressed. The latter shows how 100% new French oak can be handled exquisitely without dominating the fruit. Drink more Hunter Valley Chardonnay I say! Funny that, I made that my goal for 2022 - check it here.

Shiraz was up next and it was off to the new Mount Pleasant cellar door. This place is something and one out of the box. Guests are in for a treat when it officially opens in a couple of weeks.

Here we explored 12 wines, each example showing the 2019 and 2009 version. Hosted by Stuart Hordern (Brokenwood), Andrew Sparks (Mount Pleasant) and Phil Ryan (Mount Pleasant), Hordern explained the best Shiraz vineyards sit on red soils, perched on a hill that is east facing. These sites hug the range which shelters the vines from the afternoon sun and wind. Of course, like the Semillon vineyards, there are exceptions, but it is a credible rule of thumb to apply when you picture where the best blocks sit: Old Paddock, Old Hill and Graveyard to name a few.


Of the first bracket, the Thomas Kiss and De Iuliis Limited Release were blistering wines, both in their youth and the aged example. Hordern described both producers as making 'contemporary Hunter Valley wines' with their quality shining through. The Thomas Kiss is a single vineyard wine and comes from the Pokolbin Estate vineyards planted in 1969. The De Iuliis on the other hand is a blend of his best parcels (Steven and Lovedale Road) although the 2009 was predominantly from the famed Tallawanta vineyard. If you don't know these two producers, it's time to introduce yourself. Andrew Thomas is a meticulous winemaker and his perfection seeps through his wines. Mike De Iuliis is an excellent producer and his high-level consistency sees him standing tall alongside the much more famous brands in the valley. Respect.

The second bracket was all about the old firm - Tyrrell's Vat 9, Brokenwood Graveyard and Mount Pleasant Maurice O'Shea. Tyrrell's Vat 9 2009 and both the Graveyard 2019 and 2009 stole the show. Winemakers chase the black fruit profile and the 2009 wines of these two exhibited precisely just that and were humming. Classically medium-bodied, Hunter Valley Shiraz is a stunning drink when done well.

One more stop saw us drop by Peppertree to be hosted by Gwyn Olsen (Peppertree) and Aaron Mercer (Mercer Wines). As mentioned previously, the exploration of emerging varieties in the Hunter Valley is really gaining some momentum. Given the warm Hunter days during summer, the disease and drought threat is real. Producing fruit able to contend with both would make the life of viticulturists and winemakers less stressful. Pecorino is said to show resistance to disease and Touriga is a high cropping variety that thrives without water. Add these to the vast array of other varieties around the region and there is something to pique everyone's interest.

A glittering black tie dinner capped off an incredible day. The wonderful camaraderie and warmth in the room plus the fabulous community vibe were thrilling to experience. The award winners are listed below although something that ought to be mentioned is the fitting tribute paid to the late Hunter Valley Legend Karl Stockhausen by Mount Pleasant's Phil Ryan.

Riedel Young Achiever of the Year: Alex Beckett (Briar Ridge Vineyard) 
Liz Silkman and MC Iain Riggs
HVWTA Tourism Operator of the Year: Beyond Ballooning 
HVWTA Accommodation Operator of the Year: Spicers Guesthouse 
Jurds Viticulturist of the Year: Jerome Scarborough (Scarborough Wine Co.) 
Wine Selectors Cellar Door of the Year: De Iuliis Wines 
First Creek Winemaking Services Winemaker of the Year: Liz Silkman (First Creek Wines & Silkman Wines) 
HVWTA Outstanding Contribution of an Individual: Christina Tulloch (Tulloch Wines) 
HVWTA Patron: Brian McGuigan AM 
Hunter Valley Tourism Legend: Philip Hele OAM (Hunter Valley Resort & The Farm Hunter Valley) Hunter Valley Wine Legend: Neil McGuigan

Sincere thanks to all at Hunter Valley Wine Tourism and the winemakers who made this experience such a memorable one.


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Thursday, 5 May 2022

Thomas Wines Synergy Semillon 2022

 

Hot off the press, this is my first look at a 2022 release. Andrew Thomas brought this along with many other delights for his Thomas on Tour road trip that hits the east coast showcasing his new red wine releases. 

Monday, 2 May 2022

Ridgemill Estate Barrel Fermented Semillon 2018

 

Barrel fermented Semillon. Enjoy the mouth-filling pleasure on offer here. This is very good.

Friday, 4 March 2022

De Iuliis Single Vineyard Semillon 2021

 

This is that cruiser bike with fat wheels ridden with a flat peak cap, worn backward of course. It's the cool kid that just moves with a street-wise swagger. A delicious Hunter Semillon.

Short Stories Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2021

 

A chilled bottle of this splashed liberally in glasses among friends has plenty of crowd-pleasing appeal. A very tidy Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend from Margaret River.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Dirt Candy The Chameleon 2021

 

It's not easy tasting wine with Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon on repeat in your head. But I took a hit for the team. This is a Sem Sauv that will make a lot of people very happy. It beams happiness and sunshine. Thank goodness it's not beaming red, gold and green...

Friday, 21 January 2022

Dirt Candy The Falcon White Pet Nat 2021

Made with fruit sourced from a derelict vineyard, this Dirt Candy Pet Nat has some street smart textural appeal. My only gripe with Pet Nat is that it can be a lottery with how much you actually get to drink. You see, with sediment in the bottle, like this one, you need to agitate things slightly I upended this bottle twice and opened it five minutes later. I lost close to 20% as it gushed out. Sigh. But that's Pet Nat...

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Twisted Gum Verdelho Semillon 2021

 

Tim and Michelle Coelli run a cute cellar door and rely on their 3 hectare site to supply all their fruit. With testing weather conditions in recent years, they've pushed on resisting to buy in fruit. Here they have combined two white varieties rarely paired with one another. It's a neat summertime drink.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Winesmiths Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2020

 


Not all cask wine should be painted with a brush that suggests they are nasty. Here is an easy-drinking and approachable wine that comes in an easy-carry 2L package. 

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Ridgemill Estate Hungry Horse CDW 2021

 

I do laugh every time I see Hungry Horse on a Ridgemill Estate label. Winemaker Peter McGlashan first released this wine as a red blend back in 2012 and shared a funny story about the name. There is now a classic dry white to match its sibling. The Hungry Horse is a story about bludging relief teacher and a problem-solving task set to kill time. Hands up who had one of those dodgy relief teachers.

Monday, 27 September 2021

Huntington Estate Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2021

 

There's no denying the refreshment this Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blend delivers. Clean, cool and crisp, this is ready to play a support role for your next weekend outing in the sun.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Wren Wines Untamed Semillon 2021

 


What an entrance these Wren Wines have made. Introduce yourself to this Semillon. The energy. The vibe. The absolute freshness. What a ripping wine from the Hunter Valley's newest kid on the block! 

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Carillion Origins Old Grafts Semillon 2021

 


A curious name for a wine given the 'Old Grafts' are vine cuttings from the famed Braemore vineyard. Old Cuttings may be more suitable? Oh, to quibble about nonsense...

Monday, 23 August 2021

De Iuliis Aged Release Semillon 2014

 


Delicate in nature, this aged Semillon release from De Iuliis coats the mouth with ease.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Gundog Estate Wild Semillon 2021


Well hello there! Here is a Semillon I want to drink lots of. So fresh and oozing pleasure.

Friday, 13 August 2021

De Iuliis The Garden Vineyard Semillon 2021

 


The Hunter Valley 2021 Semillons are starting to turn up. I always enjoy looking at them this time of year as it builds anticipation for the upcoming spring and summer. Here is a tasty single vineyard release from big Mike De Iuliis.