Eating and drinking my way through life and learning all the while

Impromptu Semillon lunch with Wine Australia

Today is another example of why I love living in London and twitter. I was keeping an eye on twitter this morning and saw a tweet from Wine Australia asking if anyone in London was up for a Semillon lunch. I’d missed the original tweet but picked up the retweet by Claire Scott. Thanks Claire. The lunch in question was actually that very day and before I knew it I was walking to Wine Australia’s office for a cheeky lunch date with a Semillon. The weather today was fantastic as if they’d organised a bit of Aussie sunshine for my walk. I was truly spoilt and had the pleasure of Wine Australia’s John McDonnell, Camilla Coste, Regan Schwartz and Louise Nightingale all to myself and a choice bottle of Hunter Valley Semillon, washed down with sushi (a personal fav for lunch).
The inpromptu lunch had been inspired by the Semillon Masterclass at Landmark Australia 2010 and the ensuing debate. When I think of Semillon, I immediately associate it with lusheously sweet Sauternes and Barsac from Bordeaux and as part of a blend in a lot of mainstream Aussie wines often, it has to be said, as a poor relation to Chardonnay. There is clearly much more to this grape… We tasted a Semillon from the Hunter Valley, where single varietal wines from Semillon are something of a speciality. The reason why the Semillon from the Hunter Valley is so distinctive has a lot to do with the climate, which can be described as subtropical. For a warm region, it is just north of Sydney, Hunter Valley receives a fair amount of rain (750mm) with the majority of it falling during the crucial harvest time. Because of the bad weather, the grapes are often harvested early which mean the alcohol levels are notably lower than the neighbouring regions and acidity higher. The wine we tried today was the multi-award winning Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2003 from the Hunter Valley. It is hand harvested and forms part of the premium range from producer, McWilliams. RRP is £14.99. This Semillon has a fantastic zingyness with bags of crisp lemon, crunchy apple and hints of lime on the palate. It was suprisingly fresh for a 2003 and is just starting to show its age with the toasty, honey notes on the nose. So what I’ve learned today is Hunter Valley Semillon has a very distinct style that sets it apart from the rest. It displays fresh, citrus, herbaceous notes, is relatively low alcohol, unoaked in style and has concentrated, increasingly complex aromas with age. Semillon is a massively underrated grape variety outside of Bordeaux but has so much to offer if produced in smaller quantities in the climatically chaotic region of Hunter Valley. I’ll leave the final thoughts on Semillon to the guys who attended the Semillon masterclass on the otherside of the globe earlier today… To hear more about the Semillon Masterclass at Landmark Australia 2010 click here.


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