“Why Did You Plant That Aussie Rubbish you’ll never sell it “? (!)
Can you imagine how taken aback we were when someone in the wine industry asked us that question about our Semillon? Well we were not flummoxed for long. We responded “because we like it”. AND what’s more so do many others. Our Semillon is always the first of the vintage to run out, the small volumes notwithstanding. The current vintage has recently sold out.
When we were establishing the vineyard some 18 years ago and thinking about which grape varieties we would plant, clearly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were no brainers. The soil type and climate is particularly suited to these varietals. We could have just stuck with these two. However our small size dictated that we should find a point of difference to bring people to our cellar door. After all every other vineyard would be growing Pinot Noir and to a lesser extent Chardonnay followed by Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.
So we decided on two Bordeaux wines that we like, Semillon and Merlot. Fortunately there was variation in temperature across the vineyard and it wasn’t long before we found the warmest parts where we decided that these two would thrive. Another bonus was the length of a typical Martinborough autumn; usually warm and long thus making it more than likely the fruit would ripen optimally.
We first tasted Semillon in the Hunter valley in NSW. We both liked it. The Late Harvest Semillons’ were particularly moreish. Gorgeous late harvest wines (Sauterne) are also made in France from this grape – Chateau Y’Qem being the leading producer. It is one of the highest priced wines in the world - maybe $1000 per bottle average!!
When we planted Semillon, we did so with the intention of making a late harvest wine. However when we tasted the first vintage, the grapes were so beautiful and full of flavour. We just could not let this fruit stay out to “raisin” although it would have made a gorgeous sweet wine. We harvested it and made a lightly oaked table wine. This wine gained a Bronze Medal at a Bragato competition so needless to say we were very pleased and glad we had followed our instincts that a quality table wine could be produced from this lesser known grape varietal.
Semillon is in the same aromatic spectrum as Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer. It is often referred to as Hunter Valley Riesling. While varietals such as Pinot Gris have been heavily promoted by some in the wine industry, we are pleased that our Semillon has more than held its own
We have made late harvest wine from our Semillon too but not for some time. David is about to start finishing a late harvest and a table wine from this lovely grape. Will put a post on our facebook page when it is available.
Sunday 15th of November 2015