Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 1998

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IMG_3710This 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


  1. Edward
    November 14, 2009


    An excellent note. I was looking at my old old tasting notes (pre blogging days) earlier today just a few hours before seeing your post (having a very sluggish sunday). I last tried one of these in 2005 and loved it then.

    As you say this is a gem and I think Australia best white wine. 2005 was a cracker for the Hunter Valley – so make sure you stock up – the cheaper Steven’s Semillon from the same house is terrific.

  2. Shea
    November 15, 2009

    Ed, cheers. Based on this bottle I’m grabbing it any time I see it. Brilliant stuff.

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