FRIENDS – I’ve recently returned from the Hunter Valley where I drank so much young Semillon, my teeth almost fell out! But that’s a good thing – because I loves me some Hunter Semillon. But forget that, because I know you guys are looking for one thing only – and that’s a red hot tip of what you should be buying. And here it is – 2014 is being touted as the best Hunter Valley vintage since 1965; the year that put the Hunter on the map! Early signs from Australia’s show circuit have also predicted this. And because these wines are only hitting the shelves now – it is time to stock up!
But don’t take my word for it – let’s speak to last year’s Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year recipient, and all round great guy, Andrew (Thommo) Thomas, of Thomas Wines.
2014 Hunter Valley shiraz; What can I say…?
Vintage of this century? Definitely
Best vintage since 1965? Probably
As good as 1965? Possibly
Quite simply, one of the best (red) vintages I have experienced in my (nearly) 30 years of making wine in the Hunter. Why so good…?
Warm without being too hot (good cloud cover and cool evening breezes).
Dry without being in drought (so normal to slightly above average yields).
All these things point to a ‘dream’ vintage in the Hunter, particularly for red wines.
Stylistically, the best Hunter shiraz from 2014 have ripe, juicy/jubey red and blue fruits supported by plump supple tannins. The majority of the wines are certainly in the fuller end of the medium bodied spectrum.
Of course the collaborative regional focus on eliminating Brettanomyces from our wines in recent years has only added to the aromatic vibrancy and purity of these wines (the barnyard/sweaty saddle characters are a thing of the past these days).
These wines will be a thrill to drink on release, but the best will also rest easily in the cellar for one, two, three decades and even beyond.
I’m currently pulling the last of my 2014’s out of barrel, and pointing them towards bottling in July, and will (as usual) give them some time to rest in bottle prior to release in May 2016.
Watch this space….
The Hunter Valley’s other star (Semillon) didn’t shine as bright for its newly released 2015 wines. Growers were basically shitting themselves due to considerable January rain during the 2015 harvest. Sarah Limacher, Owner of Revelry wine consulting and Sommelier at Four in Hand dining explains in detail.
2015 was full of curve balls from mother nature but I love looking at wines from challenging vintages as this is where great winemakers and clever viticulturalists shine and really standout, and the Semillons are looking delicious … check out Gwyn Olsen from Briar Ridge Estate’s Dairy Hill Semillon (last year’s current release Semillon trophy winner) and her cool little project fiano, Andrew Thomas’s Braemore is standing tall in its pristine beauty, Mike de iuliis Wilderness Road Semillon is a little ripper as are the wines from Tyrrells, Tulloch and Margan.
And as far food matching goes – A dozen freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters or hiramasa kingfish sashimi is all you need!
Thommo weighs in with his thoughts on this challenging year.
As is often the case in theses more ‘challenging’ seasons, the best wines will come from the older, ‘pedigree’ vineyards, and some of my favourites are the Brokenwood Hollys Block, Tyrrells Vat 1, Bimbadgen Palmers Lane, Pepper Tree Alluvius, (and of course keep your eye out for my recently released Braemore semillon….)
All these wines have an amazing precision and purity.