Some words from Thommo on our new Spring releases....
This update will focus on our two newest (September 1st) releases.
2015 Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon
Having sold out of our 2013 and 2014 Cellar Reserve Braemore for quite some time now, I am particularly excited to see the new release 2015 vintage hit the deck on the first day of Spring. We do love the opportunity to present our current release and bottle-aged Braemore Semillon side by side for our guests in Cellar Door. After all, the Hunter is famous amongst wine lovers around the world for this unique and amazing transformation....
I’m clearly smitten with the way this wine has slowly evolved, but I guess one of the best ways to feature the qualities of any wine is to use third party opinion/endorsement. So here’s the review by Huon Hooke, extracted from The Real Review website
"Bright, light-yellow colour; young for its years, as is the nose. It has lemon juice, lemon pith and baked lemon pudding aromas, and no signs of greenness. Signs of toastiness are barely apparent at this stage. The wine is likewise fresh, bright and young in the mouth, starting to show traces of the honey that will build with further age. Deliciously intense and delicate at the same time, with refreshing but seamless acidity, and a long carry. A gorgeous wine, an archetypal Hunter Semillon that has benefited from some age but has barely begun to enter its second phase. A great, classic wine."
#1 of 43 (2015 Semillon tasted from Lower Hunter Valley)
Drink 2021 – 2035
Tasted Feb 2021
Nicely said, thank you Huon...... :)
With only 460 six-packs available I suspect this one won’t be on the shelves for too long.
2021 Élevage Semillon
Semillon is capable of producing a diverse range of wine styles, from bone-dry classics through to richly sweet dessert wine, all the while maintaining its varietal character and ‘sense of place’.
This is our very first crack at producing a ‘desert style’ Hunter Valley Semillon. The elevated sweetness has been achieved using technology (reverse osmosis) rather than botrytis (noble rot). We actually extract some of the water component from the juice prior to fermentation, thereby increasing the natural sweetness to a level needed for this style of wine. The initial juice volume is virtually halved to reach the level of sweetness required in the juice. This was followed by a relatively long, cool fermentation which we stopped when the alcohol level reached approximately 10%, leaving around 7 Beaumé of residual sweetness in the wine. Unlike the sweet wines of some other regions, we didn’t use any oak to mature the wine and it was bottled early to maintain its freshness.
The wine is medium lemon/straw in colour, and this will deepen with time. Whilst light in alcohol yet full in textural viscosity, this wine is rich and voluptuous, packed with ripe tropical fruits, lemon sherbet, and candied pineapple notes. The finish is long and luscious yet quite refreshing on the finish with its elevated citrus-like acidity providing a beautifully balanced wine. A wine to savour as a youngster, however it will develop extra depth and complexity with time in the cellar.
PS this is not just a wine to be enjoyed at the end of the meal with a delicious dessert, it is equally suited as an aperitif and is also a perfect match with blue cheese.
Only 191 dozen (500mL) bottles produced.
You can purchase both these wines via our website here.
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…