Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – September 2017
Barry Weinman: 10th September 2017
Following on from last week’s review of Cabernet based wines, I continued with the Bordeaux theme and looked at Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends. This is a style made famous by the white wines of Bordeaux (both dry and sweet versions).
In New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is primarily fermented in stainless steel and released shortly after vintage. in Bordeaux however, the wines are often fermented and aged in oak barrels, with lees stirring to add depth. This results in a complex, textured wine released with a few years of bottle age enabling it to age well in the short to medium-term.
In Margaret River, they have made this style their own, producing wines with varying degrees of barrel and lees influences. In wines like the Fraser Gallop, as little as 5% of a blend treated this way can add lovely texture and depth to a wine. Wines such as the Wallcliffe from Cape Mentelle, however, have significantly more work, resulting in a complex, serious wine that demands attention.
Cape Mentelle – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Wallcliffe – 2014 (18.2/20). Initially shows grassy fruit notes, with lemon and hints of pineapple, gooseberry and lychee. The barrel ferment characters add depth to the long palate. With a little air though, the worked characters really express, with smoky, struck match components and minerality developing on both the nose and palate. A complex, serious wine that will be best with food.
Xanadu – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – DJL – 2016 (18/20 – $24). A complex savoury wine, where the oak and lees characters make an impact, but do not overwhelm the vibrant fruit. A serious wine that would be great with poached chicken breast, but would also be very enjoyable on its own. Trophy for Best White Blend – Sydney Royal Wine Show 2017.
Fraser Gallop – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – 2014 (17.9/20). Cooler fruit characters, with grassy Semillon paired to herbaceous notes from the Sauvignon Blanc. Taut and refreshing, the oak adds depth. The bottle age has softened the fruit and added complexity. Good drinking.
Cape Mentelle – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2016 (17.5/20). Fresh and floral with just enough depth to make the wine interesting. The textural palate is fine and elegant, with the supple fruit complemented by subtle winemaker’s inputs (part of the blend seeing barrel ferment and lees work). An accessible wine that will be appreciated by many.
Lamont’s – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2016 (17.5/20 – $25). I like this. Quality fruit is compact and complex, with subtle winemaker’s inputs adding depth but not overt flavours. Long, fresh finish with drive. Drink up.