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Sunday, July 6, 2014

White Wine

The cooler temperatures in the evening provided a leaning towards a glass or red wine as opposed to white. Occasionally a beer as a precursor but unchilled just straight from the Cave, cool but not chilly cold. Refreshing fizz. Then this evening the palate felt like a white wine. Not chilled just (outside) room temperature at about that 17 degrees C. There is a cardboard box outside the back door with some sample wines from the cellar under the workshop. This saves a long walk in the cool evening.

The only white in the box was "Sem 001". The HHF coding system means this is a Semillon 2010 batch 01. This bottle didn't have a screw cap but a cork which indicates it is from the last dozen of this batch. Every wine bottled here on HHF has one dozen under cork for long term aging and the rest under Stelvin Seal i.e. screw cap.

First impression was positive. There was no sediment despite being bottled unfiltered. So much for the commentators who say that bottling by the moon cycle is rubbish and wines need filtering.

Decanted the 750ml into a 375ml and a 185 ml leaving a single glass to enjoy. The nose was good, another promising sign. The first sip was unbelievable. This was an excellent wine, full of flavour and mouth feel. A tiny hint of those characteristics of a Hunter Semillon with a few years of bottle age. This is the point where you feel pretty pleased with yourself. All those past failures and mediocre results fade and you think only happy positive thoughts. It is worth the effort you say to yourself.

The excitement pulled Jean out of the other room and she investigated the wine in my glass. Colour: sparklingly clear with a hint of yellow, Nose: strange (not her strong point). Taste: "Wow, this is in the Didier Dagueneau league" (even if he did only use Sauvignon Blanc). So that was the end of the 2010 Semillon - we split the bottle. Just as well the entrĂ©e this evening was oysters.

The Wine

Sometimes when we pick the vineyard manager lets us have the box ends from the reserve block. But since this wasn't recorded in the vintage book we will never know if this was a factor.

Definitely, the lack of filtering adds more character. This is apparent in all the wines at HHF.

The Baume was 11.2 giving an alcohol level of 11.7. A bit higher than the usual 10.5 recommended for Hunter aged Semillons.

The pH was 3.24 which is about perfect.

The grapes after picking were chilled on skins for 18 hours then pressed and the temperature raised for yeast inoculation. New World Strain Chardonnay Yeast was used. Once the must had commenced fermenting the temperature was lowered and remained between 10 and 15 C for 6 days until the only a third of the sugar was present. Every day the must was stirred to add a little oxygen for the yeast and to circulate the sediment. An obscure practice of some French winemakers.

The wine was racked and 5 grams/litre of French Medium Toast Oak chips added. A little higher than the book recommends but then it did have  a fair bit of skin contact.

And there it sat for 6 months until bottling. Occasionally tasted and now after 4 years it has blossomed.

Inspired again for another vintage.

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