Hunter Semillon’s renown is due largely to its ability to age in the most astonishing fashion. From young liquid neutral in flavour develops a complex, funky, rich wine that wears its bottle age with pride. It’s a style revered both in Australia (though arguably not as much as it should be) and abroad.
All of which is potentially problematic for Hunter Semillon made in a style designed for early drinking. The attraction of fresh young white wines is self-evident, but the most popular tend to be highly perfumed and of obvious charms. How to handle a variety, then, that wants to hold itself back until it has rested for more than a few years? The obvious answer is to mitigate the most challenging aspects of young Semillon (acid, neutrality) and bring forward those dimensions mostly likely to charm (fruit flavour, fullness of body). A winemaker risks vulgarising the varietal in the process, though, so it’s a fine line to tread.
This Scarborough wine makes a reasonable case for the value of drink-now Semillon. What I like most about it is that it doesn’t try too hard to please. There a few things more distressing than Hunter Semillon pushed in the direction of Sauvignon Blanc (even though, in other contexts, the two varieties are classic bedmates), and this wine certainly avoids an impression of unnatural styling. The nose shows relatively forward but still austere aromas of pebbles, herbs and tart citrus juice. No great complexity but, happily, good typicité. This reminds me of lawns mowed in Summer, the sound of cricket on the television, curtains drawn to keep the heat out.
The palate capitalises on the strengths of this varietal, with good presence and lively acid. It’s not forbidding, structurally, just fresh and zingy, which suits the style. Again, complexity of flavour isn’t a strong point, but I like the slightly mineral edge to what is a mostly citrus-driven flavour profile. Overall, it’s softer and blurrier than Semillons designed to age, and the lack of definition that results seems a well struck compromise, given the intent behind this wine.
Clean, clever and as tasty as one might reasonably expect.