I am very pleased (and excited) to announce the official release of our 2021 Single Vineyard Semillons.
I’m also very happy to see the 2020 vintage well behind us, with the fires and associated smoke contributing to a 60% drop in our production leaving us rather ‘skinny’ in the Semillon department last year…
It’s a great relief to have the full contingent of our Semillons back this year, and I can report that they are looking fantastic. Here’s a snapshot/summary of how this (rather unique) 2021 vintage played out from my personal perspective….
After four consecutive years of drought, the skies certainly opened up from about February/March 2020, delivering 1050mm of rain during the 2020 calendar year which is well over our 760mm long-term average. With bud bust pretty much on cue (late August), we knew that we would be need to be very diligent with our vineyard management to ward off any potential issues with downy/powdery/botrytis through the growing season right through to harvest.
To add insult to injury, the Braemore vineyard was hit with a massive hail storm in early November 2020. Fortunately, the developing bunches and berries were still very small and hard so the impact of the hail event on our yields ended up being much less than I had initially anticipated/feared.
January is the most critical period during the viticultural growing season in the Hunter, and I am happy to report that we seriously 'dodged that bullet' with the rain basically disappearing for the month of January allowing a window of opportunity to get our fruit to a perfect level of ripeness and in excellent condition. I can still hear a collective sigh of relief from grape growers and winemakers across the region….
And so there we have it. A season that was looking quite “challenging” to say the least, has evolved into what history will remember as a pretty bloody good Hunter vintage, particularly for Semillon….
2021 Braemore Semillon
The various blocks across the Braemore vineyard were picked between the 27th of January and the 4th of February. The hand-picked fruit is run across our new state-of-the-art vibrating sorting table to ensure that only the absolute highest quality bunches get through to the press. The grapes are then whole-bunch pressed to minimise phenolics, and fermented with our specially selected neutral yeast to enhance the varietal purity. At the completion of the fermentation, the wine spent five weeks resting on its yeast lees prior to preparation for bottling on the 18th of May.
Stylistically, the 2021 Braemore is more classically shaped than the last four warm dry vintages, and has an attractive bright, almost tropical aromatic lift. Whilst 2021 is a completely different season in terms of weather, this wine kind of reminds me of the 2003 Braemore Semillon (hands up those of you who remember that wine…..
Being bottled slightly earlier than normal, I suspect that these aromatics will yield over the next few months revealing more of the lemon/lime zest characters that lie beneath. As we have come to expect from this vineyard, its concentration of fruit will provide some excellent current drinking as well as being a belter for the cellar. The 2021 vintage is the 22nd consecutive bottling of Braemore Semillon under the Thomas Wines label.
2021 The OC Semillon
According to all our pre-harvest work prior to the 2020 vintage, this vineyard was ‘on the cusp’ of having some issues with smoke taint, so we had to make the difficult/heartbreaking decision not to pick Oakey Creek last year. This makes me all the more excited to have The OC Semillon back in the portfolio this year
Despite the rain during 2020, the impact of four years of drought resulted in a significantly lower yield from this vineyard in 2021. It was in fact our very first Semillon picked this year (25th January), and it has a slightly riper feel than we've seen in recent vintages. That being said, the core of fine acidity is still a defining feature of wines made from this wonderful patch of transitional loamy soil.
There’s some fine detail in this slightly riper expression of The OC Semillon, taking time to unfurl in its compact frame. Freshness is the motif – a wine built for satisfying thirst and curiosity now but will also reward with time in the cellar…
Another single vineyard Semillon that we missed dearly last year. In fact, with the fires burning towards the fringes of the Broke-Fordwich sub region, it was a no-brainer that this vineyard was going to be critically impacted by smoke taint.
I should mention at this point, that smoke only affects/taints the grapes that it comes in contact with – not the vine. There are NO residual issues from any smoke taint event from one vintage to the next.
The red volcanic soils of the Fordwich Hill vineyard make this wine an interesting exception to the rule of Semillon being suited to the lower lying sandy/loam alluvial flats of the Hunter Valley. We always allow this vineyard to get to a higher level of ripeness than our classically styled Semillons resulting in a more generous (12.5% alcohol), contemporary expression of Hunter Semillon and its gentle acidity providing an excellent early drinking, food-friendly style.
For those of you who know and love (and missed) this label, you will be very pleased indeed with the 2021….
With our significantly reduced production in 2020, I have pushed these three wines into bottle a bit earlier this year, and they were released about a month ago.
Many of you have already bought some of these wines from our cellar door or online. For those of you that are still yet to grab a few bottles, stylistically they are right on point and once again offer incredible quality for every day drinking at an amazing value for money price.
I sincerely hope you enjoy our new vintage Semillon releases, it’s great to have the full set back on the shelf and I am very proud of them all. Keep your eyes open for the release of the 2015 Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon on the 1st September (the first day of spring). Huon Hooke has already dropped a whopping 98 points on this wine in his recent review…