Hunter Valley semillon is an Australian wine phenomenon. Nowhere else is this white grape grown in a subtropical climate with heavy vintage rains, and nowhere is it made into the same sort of dry white wine. Semillon is more commonly a component of emphatic white blends, both sweet and dry, some magnificent, some less so. By contrast, the Hunter version is low in alcohol, rather neutral in youth, and improbably worthy of bottle age for such a restrained drop. None of these three characteristics makes it a darling of a modern wine world besotted by wine fashion, but its fans adore it for its unique mix of savouriness, subtlety and mature richness.
Tyrrell's Brookdale Hunter Valley Semillon 2017, $18-$20
Pale, clean, and fresh, this well-priced semillon offers lemon-lime, Sunlight soap and straw-like aromas that sum up true regional/varietal personality. From Tyrrell's famous HVD vineyard, it tingles in the mouth with pure, ripe fruit flavours, lip-smacking balance, and lingering, savoury finish. Screw cap; 11 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink over four years.
Stockists include Dan Murphy's stores.
Brokenwood Howard Vineyard Hunter Valley Semillon 2013, $63-$67
Brokenwood's Hunter semillon cred equals the region's best. This star beautifully straddles the crossover between youth and maturity, with citrus and apple fruit folded through subtle, savoury notes of toast, wax and dry herbs. A delicious classic of depth, richness and length, yet low alcohol. Screw cap; 10.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink now and for six years plus.
Stockists include Brokenwood cellar door or at brokenwoodwines.com.au.
Tyrrell's Single Vineyard Belford Hunter Semillon 2013, $33-$36
At six years old, this Tyrrell's wine, from 75-year-old Elliott family vines, mixes youth and development beautifully. Lemon curd and sherbet, light toastiness and a mineral touch on the nose run through a supple palate of lovely depth, superb balance and sustained richness. Screw cap; 11.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink over six years plus.
Stockists include Vintage Cellars stores.