In the 25 vintages we have endured in the Hunter Valley, nuance and uniqueness are the overarching theme, no two are the same, but there are similarities and trends which appear. The pendulum of stylish fad is a dangerous precipice to find oneself on when the weather changes for the worst. I recall a quote from Ed Hillary in A View from the Summit pointing out that when the weather turns, it pays to take the route you know over that which is new and may seem expedient.
The tumult of climatic vicissitude has been the imp on the winemaker’s shoulder for almost too many vintages to count in the Hunter, well, the last 3 anyway, but it seems like an eternity. Fires, then floods, only to be trumped by floods of even more biblical proportion, have greeted us with a frequency that would indicate luck is against us. Just for the record, as I write this, we have tipped 1300mm out of the rain gauge in the last 12 months, only 100mm more than the 12 months previous. Now, while I am not considering a career change to rice farming this is starting to wear thin, like my lawn, and my raincoat.
So, while not a surprise, it is heartening at last to be tasting our 2022 Semillons from bottle for the first time with a smile on my face. Once in bottle, the door is closed and if nursed carefully, the hard work of a seasons growing, tending and careful decision making is there to unfold in an illuminating way. That is how I feel about our 22 Semillons, this vintage has thrown everything at us and a steady hand with history in is palm has seen some very focused, yet delicate wines emerge.
A cool, wet spring and summer followed by a longer and slower ripening period than usual, with challenging harvest conditions has been captured and moulded by the collective knowledge of winemaking history to give us a fine ray of light through the clouds.
The combination of variety and place is at the heart of the relationship between Semillon and the Hunter Valley. This purity exists, fortunately for us, across a number of pockets in the Hunter, the point where soil and vines give a unique insight into a moment in time. The vines planted along Oakey Creek Road in Pokolbin are one such place and the Bellevue Vineyard is a part of that unique expression. Purity and a distinct mineral nature are the calling card of this part of Pokolbin.
From the moment these grapes were harvested I could see potential, the fruit profile, the ripeness and the acid line set this small parcel of fruit apart in this challenging vintage. And perhaps therein lies part of the magic for Hunter Valley Semillon, the right soil with the right vines and a gentle hand. That’s all.
Food Pairing Notes
Aside from the obvious oysters or caviar, this wine will handle some generous flavour, the Coral Trout at the Shell House in Sydney and this wine would work very well.