Eyes: clear, med lemon, legs
Nose: clean, med intensity, developing, citrus, lemon, lime, mineral, hint of honey, butter, toasty, smoky minerality, green apple, hint of butter
Mouth: dry, light body, med+ acid, med- alcohol, med+ flavour intensity, med+ finish, citrus, chalky, lemon, lime
All in all: Very good quality: despite lightness, there exists a well-balanced acidity, flavourful electric fruit, developing characteristics, and a longish finish. Drink now, but has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess: High-priced (Chardonnay/Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend) from Hunter Valley, Australia; 4 years old.
Is really: Premium Semillon from Hunter Valley, Australia; 9 years old.
[Tasted during WSET Diploma class – Section 1 – Week 10]
Semillon is so hilariously boring in its still, young, and pure versions. Hilarious because it’s well-known for some great and expensive examples – botrytized and blended with Sauvignon Blanc in Sauternes; identically blended but without the noble rot in White Bordeaux (or even Chile and Australia); and Hunter Valley’s long-lived Semillons on the opposite side of the scale: lean, but with similar honeyed, toasty, and tropical characteristics. It’s everything in between that’s a little one note – relatively low acidity, medium-bodied, with citrus and mineral-driven notes. It’s like the Pikachu of wines – a couple of famous examples with very few places or people; electric acidity for the best; and lasts for decades when done right.
Although Australia has the reputation of having the whites and reds of throat-burning alcohol, the Hunter Valley is an intriguing area that may have the heat, but grows leaner, more acidic versions of the grape due to cloudier skies. Lower sugar content is the result.
It’s hard to find Tyrrell’s in this province. You see it – you buy it. It’s that rare, and it’s delicious. Pikachu is the most well-known Pokemon, but let’s be real here – you capture it, you train it, and want to evolve it into the stronger Raichu – Pikachu is the electric superstar that sits on Ash’s shoulder. Semillon is arguably the same – my first taste of this exact same wine a year ago and I was extremely and perhaps wrongly bored with my notes consisting of a neutral, citrus and mineral-driven, slightly developed glass of acid. What’s the appeal? You’d have to wait at least a decade to find out.
This time around there was more development, but just barely so – as it warmed up, there was a toasty nose reminiscent of oak, but this evidently non-oaked version had none on the palate: another idiosyncrasy of the grape. Refreshingly disjointed – heavy on the nose, but lighter on the palate.
I have yet to try a Semillon at its full maturity, but this one does show balance, persistence, concentration despite lightness, and is still rather simple, but is starting to develop.
Producer: Tyrrell’s Wines
Designation: Vat 1
Sub-Region: Hunter Valley
Tasted: June 12, 2013