Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 1998
This wine is a perfect example of why the history of broad branding for Australian wines has fallen flat of late and hidden some of the great gems of the country. Brand Australia has come to symbolize low-cost easy drinking shiraz to such an extent that I think it has influenced the style of most Aussie wines you can get in this market, and has served to obfuscate the current diversity of great Australian wine (much of which is produced in such low quantities that the average person will never get to taste it). With this wine, if you are relatively new to wine, leave your preconceptions at the door. The wine vets will know all about why Hunter Valley Semillon is so great and so ageable.
The high levels of acidity in this Semillion have helped it gain the reputation for superb ageability, and as this 1998 attests to, even a 10 year old Semillion from Tyrells can be fresh and alive. The nose provided freshly toasted bread, butter, grape, gooseberry, nectarine, mocha, and chocolate. There was not hoard of fruit coming through on the nose, but the secondary flavours were outstanding, long, and deep. The palate also had mocha, along with lemon, cream, toast, stone, vanilla, and a long long minerally finish. This was smooth in the mouth while retaining freshness, and in my mind made me think of a Burgundian chardonnay crossed with an Austrian Gruner Veltliner. The superb structure in the mid-palate provided a wine which was expansive and full, and which maintains purpose and direction. This is not only one of the most exciting Australian wines I’ve had in the past two years, but also a truly great wine in itself, and the sort of thing for which Australia needs to build stronger recognition.
$70 at BCLDB (gone now, but might get more) and at Liberty Wine Merchants