An under-appreciated fact: many of Australia’s most cellar-worthy wines are whites. Even the happy few who are not blind to the astonishingly-affordable delights offered by our aged Rieslings and Semillons are all too often blind to prime sources in regions other than, respectively, Clare and the Hunter Valley.
Western Australia’s Frankland River is further away from Sydney than Moscow is from London.
So, one should not be too surprised that Eastern Australians who enjoy aged Semillon tend to believe that “the really good stuff” is exclusive to “their” Hunter Valley.
NSW is our only state in which straight Semillon – as opposed to SBS and SSB – is a relatively easy sell, but only if it is NSW Semillon.
Almost certainly, the greater portion of Semillon consumed by Australians is WA-grown, but almost all of that is blended with Sauvignon Blanc…often, as a so-called “Classic Dry White” that is neither truly dry, nor a classic.
Margaret River Semillon, straight, is very hard to sell, and therefore rare; a very sad fact, given that the best examples are so lovely, albeit quite unlike Hunter Semillons.
And in WA Semillon land, the “really good stuff” does not all grow in Margaret River.
A deal further south and east is The Great Southern, where vineyards are scattered across the world’s largest designated wine region.
Alkoomi is a pioneering Great Southern winery.
Their first vines were planted in 1971.
By WA standards Alkoomi is a large, family-owned winery; by normal standards it is a “boutique” operation.
Alkoomi has a deserved reputation as a producer of reliably decent red and white wines, many of which can be purchased for well under $20 but which taste like they ought cost well over $30.
Their three “icon” wines bear higher price tags, but can also be very good value.
At least the peer of some much higher-priced Hunter Semillons, the 2007 Wandoo Semillon is $35, ex-winery, online.
It is very beautiful…clean, complex, elegant, with a looooooooong finish, absolutely dry but not mean, partially oaked, definitely not over-oaked, and its alcohol content is just 11%.
This Frankland River Semillon and a free-range chook from anywhere – or a fresh fish – would greatly enhance each other.
The winery’s own tasting notes are accurate.
Although lovely right now, a few more years (probably, many more than a few more years…it is securely sealed) would make it even lovelier.
A tip: on a typical Australian day, remove this wine from your fridge at least an hour before you start to drink it.
If it is a cool, wintry day, and you are eating outside, I’d suggest you do not put it in the fridge at all.
The main reason so few Australians drink aged Semillons and Rieslings is simply that they have never tried them; I would be a wealthier man if I had $10 for each time I have heard somebody exclaim with surprised delight, “I had no idea Riesling could tast like that!”
The other reason is that some Australians have tasted such wines, but only straight out of a cold fridge…which means they really did not taste them very much at all.
You may love to eat a tasty, grilled steak.
Obviously, you would not – and should not – reduce that grilled steak’s temperature to near freezing point, unless the flavour of grilled steak is something you loathe, and which you wish to “kill”.
Yet, by and large, Australians unwittingly do their utmost to “kill” the flavours of their lovelier, more subtle white wines…and are then (unsurprisingly) utterly underwhelmed by them!
Coming up soon: a separate post on how a bit of temperature-awareness can enormously enhance your enjoyment of wines, both red and white, whether “robust” or “delicate”.