Category Archives: Aged Wines

Mar 03 2016

Why you should take another look at Hunter Valley Semillon!

Posted on March 03, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

British wine critic Jancis Robinson calls Hunter Valley semillon “one of the unsung heroes of white wine production.”

I’ve always wondered why semillon isn’t more popular with wine lovers? After all, it can be enjoyed young, but it also evolves beautifully over time and can be cellared for 20 years or more. And because semillon is an early ripening variety the flavours are fully ripe at relatively low sugar levels, leading to a dry white wine with plenty of acid and low alcohol levels (around 11% versus chardonnay at 13.5%).

When young, semillon is pale in colour and typically fresh and tangy with lots of citrus notes, making it a perfect accompaniment to a meal of fresh oysters and grilled white-fleshed fish! Yum! As it ages the colour deepens and the palate becomes softer and richer, although it’s never as full-bodied as aged chardonnay.

In wine critic Huon Hooke’s opinion, “Hunter semillon is, like Mosel riesling, one of those whites that prove that length – or persistence – of flavour does not depend on a certain level of alcohol. Even 10% alcohol Hunter semillons, such as the legendary 1994 Mount Pleasant Museum Elizabeth, have plenty of extract and length.” (Hunter Valley Semillon, Huon Hooke. com)

Tyrrell's Vat1 SemillonThe Hunter was the first place in the world to use only semillon to make a high quality, light, dry white wine. Tyrrell’s, the fifth generation family owned winery, started making semillon in the 1860s and has been bottling its flagship Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Semillon since 1963.

Winemakers were quick to realise that semillon does well when planted on the Hunter’s sandy soils, especially the ancient river beds that run through the Hermitage Road/Causarina area where Tyrrell’s and the other famous semillon vineyards are sited.

The legendary winemaker Maurice O’Shea put McWilliam’s … Read the rest

Oct 10 2011

The Joy of Drinking Aged Wines

Posted on October 10, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Before I boarded the bus to Orange, I enjoyed some terrific aged wines over lunch at the Wine and Food Society of NSW. One of my favourites was the Leasingham Classic Clare Cabernet Sauvignon 1992.

What struck me most about this wine was that you couldn’t mistake it for anything but a superbly aged cabernet sauvignon. The bouquet was alluring – blackcurrant fruit subtly enhanced with tobacco, dark chocolate and cedar aromas. The dark stone fruit flavours were still fresh and full, delivering complexity and great length. And while the tannins were now soft and silky, the wine still had excellent body and structure.

In his reviews of first growth Bordeaux wines, the Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker will often remark that the wines need a decade or more of cellaring. Not only does bottle age help to soften the tannins and make the wine more accessible, but cellaring gives the wine time to evolve and, if it’s really good, to transform into something quite extraordinary or even transcendent.

Today, of course, most wines are made for immediate appeal, and well north of 90% are consumed within the first year of their release. Interestingly, Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator argues that, “We must age wines today not merely to tease the genie out of the bottle, but rather, to see if it’s in there at all.” Kramer asks, “Will the modern Argentine Malbecs that are so delicious today, become with 20 years of bottle age as profound as they teasingly suggest? No-one knows.” (Why We Age Wines. And Why it Matters by Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator, 30 April 2010)

In my post, Cellaring Australian Pinot. How long do they last?, I mentioned that the longevity of many great pinot noirs were defying critics’ expectations. Wines expected … Read the rest