Grapevine Archive for Semillon
Unlike the classic European wine regions (Bordeaux, Rioja etc), Australia has a fairly limited track record when it comes to long-term ageing of its wines. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see mature Australian wines, even if you visit producers directly.
So I was immensely grateful when I was invited to join Michelin Star chef and self-confessed Australian wine specialist Roger Jones for a tasting of some top-notch bottles from his own cellar. The tasting was held in his delightful restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn.
Here are my shorthand notes. All wines were tasted blind.
Katnook Estate Chardonnay Brut, 1995: creamy, caramel, still fruity – lovely delicate mousse and texture. Mature yet still lively. 8/10
Plantagenet Riesling, 1998: zingy, floral, discreetly toasty, very fine nose. Gentle, juicy palate, à point. 9/10
Jasper Hill Riesling, 1998: serious riesling nose, creamy, focussed; amazing lift and intensity. Perfection. 10/10
Lenswood Semillon, 1998: nutty, evolved nose, developed palate, good structure, drink up. 6.5/10
Moss Wood Semillon, 1995: unusual aromatics, brioche-like, smooth palate; esoteric. 5.5/10
Moss Wood Chardonnay, 2000: pungent, smoky flavours. Full, opulent and slightly alcoholic. Not entirely clean. Disappointing. 5/10
Mount Mary Chardonnay, 1996: classic, mature chardonnay: nutty, harmonious and classy. 6.5/10
Lakes Folly, 1999: vibrant, high-toned, restrained, beautiful texture and length. 8.5/10
Barossa Valley Estate “E & E” Black Pepper Shiraz, 1998: layered, sensuous, chocolaty Barossa shiraz, smooth and delicious. Lovely now. 9/10
Penfolds Grange, 1990: exotic, complex, fragrant nose; savoury yet full of vitality; incredible ripeness and depth. A showstopper. Drink now or hold for another 20 years. 10/10
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 1990: attractively evolved, spice/vegetal notes, refined, classy, only 13.5% alcohol, enormously appetising. Now or hold for 10+ years. 9/10
Ben Glaetzer, director and chief winemaker of Heartland and Stickleback wines, updates members on news from the Barossa in this, his third posting from Down Under.
Ben Glaetzer, 17th January 2011
Australia is renowned as the continent of droughts and flooding rains (a phrase coined from the iconic Australian poem “My Country” by Dorothea McKellar.
The end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 have proved just that. As I’m sure has been on the news in the UK, much of our northern state of Queensland is underwater, river heights in excess of 20 metres up from a pool level of less than three. Crops decimated, table grapes washed away and a devastating time for more than 800,000 Australians. This water will make its way into the Murray-Darling river system over the next couple of months, the residents downstream are already preparing for floods. It’s quite a turn-around from last year when the river was so dry that one could literally walk across the Murray at its widest point.
Areas such as Langhorne Creek have been regenerated with the fresh water, the water tables are rising and the groundwater is being recharged.
All vineyards have now set fruit and overall crops are again below average in most districts. Cabernet sauvignon is in demand again this year which will give hope to some grapegrowers who’ve been unable to sell both cabernet and chardonnay for the last few years.
Here in the Barossa the weather has been decidedly muggy and warm, the humidity caused by the heavy moisture content over our northern states channelling down south. This has meant that the region has been on downy mildew alert and most growers have been vigilant with their canopy care.
We’ll commence vintage in about three weeks, kicking off with some crisp and zesty verdelho and semillon from the Limestone Coast for Heartland Stickleback and from there it’ll be full swing until the middle of May. Between now and then I’ll be spending most daylight hours in the vineyards and talking with our grapegrowers. Attention to detail is the key for this time of year, making sure crops are balanced, dropping fruit onto the ground on unbalanced vines and ensuring healthy canopies to protect against sunburn.
To top it all off my wife, Lucy, is expecting our first child….the due date was in fact 11th January. When the baby arrives it had better get used to sitting in a Ute and touring vineyards!
Twelve of the longest-standing Australian wine families have come together under the banner of Australia’s First Families of Wine – between them they have 14 centuries of winemaking experience! We were delighted that representatives from all the families chose a tasting for members of The Society as their inaugural UK event, showing two wines each from their premium portfolio covering many growing regions and styles.
Members came face to face with a veritable Who’s Who of the Australian wine world: Ross & Katherine Brown (Brown Brothers); Col Campbell (Campbell’s Wine); d’Arry and Chester Osborn (d’Arenberg); Leanne De Bortoli & Steve Webber (De Bortoli); Stephen, Prue & Justine Henschke (Henschke); Jeff & Amy Burch (Howard Park); Peter, Sue & Tom Barry (Jim Barry); Doug & Julie McWilliam (McWilliam’s); ALister & Hayley Purbrick (Tahbilk); Bruce & Pauline Tyrrell (Tyrrell’s); Mitchell Taylor (Wakefield); Robert Hill-Smith (Yalumba).
Such is the quality of these wines (and such was the popularity of this tasting) that we are eager to share them with all members. This selection showcases Australia’s best, classic styles including Hunter Valley Semillon, Clare Valley Riesling, Margaret River Cabernet, Barossa Shiraz and Rutherglen Muscat. Click here for a full list of the wines available.
Were you there? What were your impressions? Do let us know.