2017 Tyrrell’s Pokolbin Hunter Valley Semillon

Thanks to some high praise on Winefront and a memorable glass of 2013 Tyrrell’s Belford from the Sydney Opera House Bar, a spectacular place for a drink on a summer evening, I’ve been slowly building up a stash of a few bottles. Like good Riesling, Hunter Semillon doesn’t seem as sought out as some on Langton’s auction site. Three bottles of this for $17 each seemed a good buy. Only way to find out was to open one of them. Sweet green herbs, baby green peas and nettles. Hint of beeswax. Lemon rind oils and brisk citrus add fruit sweetness. There’s also an intriguing smell of something like dusty roads just as it starts to rain, petrichor anyone? In texture, a rainwater like softness on ripe but very mouthwatering acidity. Not the fruit power of Belford or HVD but so easy to drink. Roll on summer.

11% alcohol. Screw cap. $17 at auction.

91 shy points.

2013 Tyrrell’s HVD Vineyard Semillon and 2009 Tyrrell’s VAT 1 Semillon

Our turn to host neighbours for drinks. They’re of a vintage to have known Murray Tyrrell and the Hunter Valley in the 1970s, thus it seemed a safe bet to haul out a maturing HVD from the stash and invite their reminisces. Indulging my hopeless wine obsession, they turned up with a cool bottle of Tyrrell’s finest from a very, very good year. Wise with age and very kind. Smoked salmon blini and off we go.

Tyrrell’s Semillon siblings, there’s a strong family resemblance but naturally some personality differences. Both have a white peach richness over lemon curd and a beeswax glide. Similarly there’s a dry, mouthwatering line of svelte acidity. The HVD has a swell of more hedonistic fruit and generosity. The VAT 1 is perhaps more composed and even with a perfumed linger, less plump pleasure and more intellect, metaphorically so or I’d struggle. Nonetheless the DNA is one of just sweet ripeness contained by a lightness of being at low alcohol rarely glimpsed in warm hearted Australian white wine. Idiosyncratic and as Australian as Xmess in the sun.

HVD 11.5% VAT 1 11% alcohols. Screw cap, perfect for such delicate power. 94 points for both, maybe 95 as they got on so well, no sibling squabbling.

2018 Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley Shiraz

Another wine that shows its sense of place with conviction. Very ripe but not gushingly sweet raspberries, a little toffee and spiced biscuits and the smell of a dry dusty country road. So different to the tubby, generously talkative Shiraz of South Australia, more the wiry, taciturn leanness of a quiet Chips Rafferty. Lovely gentle ripeness carried by some crisp but not crunchy acidity and fine grape skin tannin. An impression of savoury restraint compared to other Aussie Shiraz. Good wine places can be confounding, how does such a hot, sometimes humid and torrid, place give birth to such gentle ripeness? Tyrrell’s seem to keep finding magic in those old soils. Hope they bounce back in 2021 after a dreadful 2020.

13.50% of modest alcohol. Screwcap. $20 on special.

92 points.

2013 Tyrrell’s Wines HVD Single Vineyard Semillon

After a glass of 2013 Belford looked so good on a warm and humid Sydney evening, it was time to chase some down. Sadly it all seems sold out but Qantas’ wine shop still has the HVD. Using a FF $50 discount and it’s sub $30 a bottle, such irresistible temptation for a six year old wine. First of the 6 pack and, phew, money well spent. Lovely smells of lime, toast, chestnut honey and, yes, a whiff of beeswax, always a joy. Powerful in the mouth with intense fruit tracking the nose and sweeping acidity. Perhaps a touch too crunchy at the moment but it does match the beautifully full fruit and still has some softening ahead, please? Five bottles to go and there’s certainly no rush. More enjoyable prospect than the care home food.

11.50% alcohol. Screwcap, so appropriate for this. $28.

94+ points.