These were on special at cellar door a year or so back — apparently there’s an issue with sticking corks. No such problem last night; in fact, the cork came out a little too easily and was quite wet. There were signs of leakage under the capsule, so I was prepared for the worst.
I remember having a bottle of the 1995 Lovedale some years ago and finding it at an excellent stage of its development. Gloriously waxy mouthfeel, flavours of lanolin and honey, just gorgeous. What’s amazing about the 1996 is how relatively undeveloped it is, at over ten years of age.
On the nose, toasty notes betray some bottle age, along with hints of sweet honey, and that peculiar cork (as opposed to “corked”) flavour that a lot of aged Semillons have. Relatively reserved, but complex and beautiful. The wine’s entry sizzles with spritzy CO2 and leads to a focused mid-palate of delicious, complex flavours that echo the nose. More toast, caramel and delicate honeyed notes sit alongside residual signs of the wine’s youthful citrus flavours. It has the beginnings of that distinctive waxy mouthfeel that so pleased my palate with the 1995 wine. The wine’s sweet, aged flavours linger with satisfying persistence.
Acid, though, remains a defining feature of this wine’s structure and it is still a fairly dominant presence. I can only imagine what this wine was like as a youngster. I prefer to drink aged Semillons in the full flower of their maturity, and am eager to experience this wine again in a few years’ time, when the aged flavours will, I hope, display greater intensity and complexity.
McWilliams Mount Pleasant
Date tasted: November 2007
When sitting next to Phil Ryan some years ago, he said that were a fire to engulf the winery this would be the his first wine to grab
It’s certainly a classic of its style – I’ve had a few bottles since writing this review and each has been surprisingly youthful, yet so obviously full of quality. I remain excited by it and am thankful to have several more bottles in my cellar. One to revisit repeatedly.
Had the last one I own tonight. Despite a crumbly cork, the wine was brilliant with flathead. An extraordinary amalgam of fine line acidity combined with the elegant honey and toast that is the hallmark of a truly great Hunter Semillon. Will MrcChatto be able to reproduce such stellar classics? I bet Phil Ryan still has a few left to stun any disbelievers.