It’s a truism that fresh Hunter Semillon is tough. All that acidity, a relative simplicity of flavour, etc. Indeed, we generally focus on what the wines become with bottle age — a honeyed, nutty wonder that embodies one of the most dramatic transformations in all of wine. I wonder, though, whether our collective tendency to lump young Semillon together works to obscure the very real differences these wines can show from one another when first released. Perhaps changing the critical dialogue around Semillon; elevating the value of the young form while retaining the aged’s deservedly prized place; might help us to appreciate and even enjoy the style at all stages of its evolution.
This wine is a case in point. For a young Semillon (oops, there we go again), it shows considerable complexity and character, much more than the cliché of “lemon juice and battery acid” might suggest. It’s actually as much about funky minerality as it is citrus. I’m not sure where those flavours come from (sulfur? carbon dioxide?) but I like the vibe and don’t mind that they fatten the aroma profile somewhat, creating a broader wine, more suitable for earlier enjoyment and faster maturation than one might expect from a premium label.
The palate is a slightly noisy mix of zingy texture — showing a little spritz and more than a little acid — savoury base notes and high toned florals. The texture in particular modulates between chalky, bubbly and surprisingly viscous. It’s worth drinking for this alone. The flavour here is again relatively broad, though I hesitate to suggest it shows much, or any, development. It’s just a fuller, softer style of Semillon, easier to approach than many while retaining enough of the angularity of this style to fit within the mainstream.
I’ve no idea how this will look in ten years’ time. What I do know is that it’s a fascinating, left-of-centre wine right now.