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.
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.
Dry Semillon from a Sauternes producer. Opens with sweet citrus, mainly lemon, sort of lemon curd in fact and well mannered oak suggesting vanilla, spice and toast. Tingling acidity really crashes through the ending. Over two or three days, the texture fattens to a creamy luscious cushion for that acidity and the flavours mellow towards honey and more yellow fruit, even something tropical. At this point the thought occurs there may be a touch of noble rot or dried fruit or perhaps that’s just rot on my part. Anyway it’s lush and full. This makes a great stop on the road in the search for good dry semi trailer.
13.70% alcohol. Cork. 17 euros.
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.
Barossa Semillon from old vines. Opened a bit yeasty and spicy with rich very ripe citrus to more exotic fruits. Over a couple of days the jangly edge settled well and things calmed down into some generous rich fruit, a touch of oak spice and some firm fresh acidity to balance. The rich yellow green colour suggests some skin contact and the acidity does seem buffered by some good grape skin texture. The whole thing looks natural and has some honest depth from terrific fruit. Big fellah with a fine sense of balance.
12.50% alcohol. Cork, oh dear. $25.
A more recent bottle in March 2019 was much more settled. Less yeasty and jangly. Cleanly fruited, satisfyingly deep and poised. Makes you wonder what this would be like after ten years under screwcap. Is it possible to get a six pack rebottled? Can you save old screwcap empties, clean them and stick this in with a squirt of argon? Corks make you desperate in many ways!
Still 94 points.