The question of how long to age wine seems, to me, one of the most vexed of all, and something about which there’s rarely agreement amongst enthusiasts. Ironically, it’s also one of the most reliable crutches for wine snobs wanting to throw a bit of weight around, a phenomenon to which I am, I’m ashamed to say, painfully allergic. I remember walking past a group of rather tragic-looking men at Wine Australia a few years ago as one tossed his head back triumphantly and crowed: “Of course, it won’t age.” As if that were the ultimate mark of a wine’s quality (or at least a wine lover’s discernment).
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I shall relate it, somewhat tenuously, to this wine. The back label states it will benefit from “three or so years” in bottle. Quite conservative for a reserve-level Hunter Semillon, even one from a relatively forward vintage like 2005. The Tulloch website suggests eight or more years is appropriate. I guess we’ll just need to be the judge. I definitely have a preference when it comes to this sort of thing, enjoying fully mature Semillon that has lost most of its primary citrus character. Vastly more experienced tasters than I have often suggested Hunter Semillon passes through an awkward, “adolescent” phase on its way to glorious maturity, and this wine, right now in any case, provides an interesting illustration of this point of view.
Not that it’s unpleasant. In fact, my first sniff was very promising with definite signs of toasty bottle age and a generally forward aroma profile. Powdery citrus and honeyed lanolin predominate. I find the aroma a little blurry, as if each note isn’t quite distinct and detailed enough to claim its place, but it’s comfortable and generous. The palate is more telling. It pulls in all directions, youthful citrus colliding uncomfortably with the first signs of that waxy, slippery mouthfeel that is every Hunter Semillon lover’s joy. There are hints of honey and toast, but they amount to little more than coming attractions, and don’t yet possess the full flourish they will, no doubt, one day have. Consequently, there’s a bit of a hole in the palate, not enough citrus on the one hand and not enough bottle aged flavours on the other. Honey is developing weight as the wine sits in my glass, but it’s not quite there yet. Nice long finish.
This may seem like a negative tasting note, but in fact I’m quite excited. This will be a quickly-matured, deliciously easygoing wine in a few years’ time, and I’m particularly looking forward to how the mouthfeel develops.