Guest Post – How to drink your Hunter Semillon
I get approached often to host guest posts but as I have such a backlog of material, I don’t have much room for them. But Australian blogger Lisa Johnston (The Wine Muse) submitted this post on Hunter Semillon and I’d like to share it with my readers. Enjoy!
Guest Post: How to drink your Hunter Semillon
As a style, straight varietal semillon seems to be low on the list of favourites and yet, like riesling, it is one of the most versatile whites in the world. The Bordeaux white grape has found many expressions within Australia from 100% oak fermentation such as Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon to the austere Hunter Valley versions. As a fresh ripe semillon, with or without oak, food matching is easy as the grape lends itself to a wide range of food. Hunter Valley semillon is one of those varietal wines that is beloved by the wine trade – winemakers, writers, sommeliers and all but continues to be under appreciated by drinkers.
In one sense, I find this hard to reconcile considering how we expect our celebrities to be size zero with angles and personality in their youth developing rounded cheeks & elegance in their prime. And our white wine? No, we seem to want them to be the opposite – flamboyant, plumper for our immediate enjoyment. On the other hand, there are enough styles of Hunter semillon being produced, particularly with the likes of McGuigan Semillon Blanc, that there is something for everyone.
While 100% semillon is still uncommon in the world, because of its purity, lack of oak and longevity, Hunter Semillon has earned its place as one of those distinctive styles, like Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine and Barolo. Picked early with naturally low alcohol, the best shows a fine line of acid, pure citrus along itslong length in its youth developing a toasty, honey and lanolin complexity in its prime. I have recently tasted a 10 year old Hunter Semillon from one of the best vineyards that only shows a hint of waxiness in deference to its age.
A good wine to enjoy sitting in a pub watching the world go by on a warm summer’s day, it is a wine that is also a natural accompaniment to a platter of shucked oysters or prawns, nude, with nothing to distract you from their freshness. Having such high natural acid, when it is a youngster, it is one white wine that can stand to be chilled to a lower temperature than most wines as it ages it is better less chilled to enjoy the fuller flavours that have developed.
While young, delicate seafood is a great match although that other meats and vegetables work well too. If there are no oysters to be found in your fridge, then some seared scallops, served on a bed of fresh green leaves, or a fillet of your favourite fish cooked in a parcel with some lemon and a handful of herbs. I have also enjoyed it with a chicken and taragon pie and a pear and brie tart. It is not to be underestimated as a wine to dine.
With some age, the Hunter semillons come into their own with the versatility to match more flavourful dishes such as chicken, pork, sushi, even yum cha dumplings. A glass with a plate of soft cheeses would not go awry either.
Contributed by Lisa Johnston