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…
Friday 13 August - Lunch at The Flotilla
Friday 27 August - Lunch at Yellowtail Resturant
Saturday 28 August - tasting at Piermarq Gallery, Paddington
Wednesday 1st September - 2015 Cellar Reserve Braemore tasting and Dinner, Robin Hood Hotel, Waverley
Don’t miss this rare and exciting opportunity to taste twelve outstanding vintages of Thomas Wines’ flagship Braemore Semillon or Kiss Shiraz at these unique winery masterclass and lunch experiences led by winemaker, Andrew Thomas.
The events include an in depth look at Braemore Semillon or Kiss Shiraz, informal discussions around the wines with Thommo, a sumptuous tasting plate paired with the 12 wines, and an exquisite lunch in the winery afterwards by leading local Chef, Andy Wright. Places extremely limited, book early.
The Distinguished Dozen Braemore Semillon - Saturday 5 June, 2021
The Distinguished Dozen Kiss Shiraz - Saturday 19 June, 2021
Tickets $195pp - inclusive of 12 vintages of Braemore Semillon or 12 vintages of Kiss Shiraz, tastting plate, lunch and lunch wines. Bookings here.
It's often hard to decide where to start when planning a visit to Wine Country, there's so many places to see, wines to sip, restaurants to dine in and gorgeous scenery to absorb.
So how do you make the most of your visit in our new (COVID safe) world?
Whilst restaurants and Cellar Doors are now back to full capacity, Easter is a busy time in the Valley. Most Cellar Doors have new offerings and experiences, and bookings are the best way to tick off the bucket list.
So what's the best approach?
If you love the Hunter Valley's signature varieties, or would like to learn more about them, add Thomas Wines to the list. We've curated two seated experiences, one to give you an overview and one that takes a deep dive into individual vineyard wines. Book in advance and we;ll have your table ready and waiting for you on your arrival and we'll include a couple of back vinatge wines in your tasting.
So what are you waiting for? Do all the hard (but fun) work now. Plan and book your visit before your holiday, then all you have to do when you get here is relax and enjoy.
2020 a challenging year for everyone, to say the least. Now that things are on the improve we reckon it's time to cut loose, and what better excuse is there than to celebrate the release of another outstanding vintage of Hunter Valley Shiraz.
In true "Thommo style" Andrew Thomas will be showcasing a 'sneak preview' of the full range of his outstanding 2019 Shiraz. He's hitting the road in April for a Thomas Wines Club Member's tour, hosting dinners in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney, and then the official release day lunch in Pokolbin on Saturday 1st May.
Whilst the Pokolbin Lunch and Mode Kitchen + Bar Dinner on 13 April is fully booked, we'd love you to join us in Brisbane, Melbourne or at the newly released Mode Kitchen + Bar Dinner on Monday 12th April.
With some restrictions still in place numbers are limited.
The Dinners and Lunch will include four courses, perfectly paired with the full suite of 2019 Shiraz (with a couple of extra wines thrown in for good measure.....)
It's time to cut-loose & hit the road to release our range of 2019 Shiraz.
Whilst we are finalising the details we thought you might like to SAVE the date so that once we have the events live, you will have gathered your friends and will be ready to book to join us.
The Dinners will include a four courses, paired with the to be released 2019 range of Shiraz and will be hosted by Thommo.
Here's the line-up
Tickets and full details will be available via the website in the near future.
After the past crazy 12 months we can't wait to cut-loose and catch up with everyone.
Vintage 2021 is in full swing with the last of the Braemore vineyard harvested today.
It's a great time to visit the Valley, so much action and excitement with bright colours of pickers in the vineyards, huge mechanical harvesters & tractors on the roads & the wineries buzzing with action as they bring the grapes in.
Whilst the winery is not on site at Cellar Door (it's about 1km down Hermitage Road) we love to share the vintage experience with daily tastings of freshly crushed juice and ferments. It gives our guests a taste of what's to come with an explanation of what is happening each day.
This photo is pure semillon juice from the Braemore Vineyard.
When we first crush and press it, it is iridescent green and full of pulp (per glass one); we then pump it to tank to let all the pulp/solids settle. The 2nd glass is the juice after day two, such purity, and still just juice, there is no alcohol here. Glass three is a wine that has been inoculated and has started fermentation, the cloudiness is the yeast hard at work converting the sugras to alcohol, the by product of which is CO2.
We currently have juice and/or ferments available to taste as part of our Cellar Door experiences. BOOK YOUR TASTING HERE.
After a nervous start Vintage 2021 is officially underway for Thomas Wines.
As a general rule our harvest starts on the Australia Day weekend and this year was true to form. “The OC” Semillon was harvested on Monday 25th January, with “Fordwich Hill” close behind; “Braemore” harvest began on Wednesday 27 January.
“After several years of drought the wetter start to the 2021 vintage had us nervous” said Thommo, “but we dodged a bullet with the last couple of weeks of warm to hot days ripening the fruit and producing good flavours”.
The pickers will be hard at work in the Braemore vineyard finishing mid next week, with a week’s break before the Shiraz harvest begins.