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.
Picked on the 5th February from two adjacent vineyard blocks on Oakey Creek Road in Pokolbin, one hillside clay loam, the other low laying colluvial gravelly loam. Both contributing to unique fruit expression and profile. Abundant vine canopies from a generous growing season have delivered plenty of varietal character. Winemaking here is very simple, pick, whole bunch press, 48 hours of juice settling then rack to ferment with neutral yeast, as simple as that. This year we left our Semillons on ferment lees for 3 months to build some palate texture.