Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Trio of twentyeleven Tulloch Semillon

Trio of twentyeleven Tulloch Semillon
A trio of Tulloch Semillon
Don't ask me what's happening in the
background though...

The Tulloch resurgence continues.

It's been ten years since the Tulloch family bought back the farm from Big Wine, ten years spent rebuilding, rebranding, refocusing and reviving a famous Hunter label that had been neglected under the previous owners corporate stewardship.

Now, in 2011, things are looking rosy again. The wily and dynamic Christina Tulloch is now in the drivers seat and pushing the business forward at speed. The wines look brighter, fresher and more carefully made than they have in years (thanks to the steady hands of Liz Jackson and Greg Silkman at First Creek, with involvement from the Tulloch family) and look more regional to boot. Heck, even the cellar door is a busy place again.

Perhaps the only thing still remaining for this reborn Tulloch label then is the push back into super premium wines. That process is well under way with the revivalist Private Bin Shiraz label, yet you'd have to argue that, in comparison, the whites are still some way off that level of greatness.

Which brings us, in a roundabout way to this little trio of Semillon.

The following three new release wines showcase exactly where the family is at on the Semillon front, with the Tulloch Semillon range having now broadened to a three tiered one, ranging from the basic Tulloch Semillon to the more seriously intentioned JYT and Julia.

What's most interesting though is that, of the three, it is the basic wine that still has the most upfront appeal. No questioning that the Julia is the best wine of the three, but I'd wager that if you were to present this trio to your typical drinker it would be the $15 wine that would take out the points. What does that prove? Not much really, if only to remind that perhaps the core of the Tulloch offering is still overperforming varietal wines and not superstars. Value over bling.

Tulloch Semillon 2011 11.3% $15
Bright green in the glass, this looked open and generous, the nose all tropical fruits, ripe melon, clarified (not the better cloudy stuff) apple and pineapple juice. It may well be a dirty word in the Hunter but I think this looks rather Sauvignon like in it's acid driven, tropical fruit lift. The palate too is light, slightly tart and juicy, all pineapple and apple juice (think pineapple and apple popper but without the sugary sweetness) that finishes quite softly and slightly sweet.

An approachable, serviceable and very affable wine, what I like here is that it really does look inviting (which not all young Sems can do). Simple Sem, done well. For $15 you're getting a whole heap of enjoyment here. 16.5/88

Tulloch JYT Selection Semillon 2011 10.5% $25
Drawn from the pioneer McDonald family's original plantings in Pokolbin.

A much more classical wine in form and shape this one, with a slightly reduced, prickly, green apple nose that looks rather bound up in banana esters. The palate too is acid driven, greenish and slightly the fruit simmering in there fighting with that quite spiky acidity. A rather different wine to the entry level prospect, that acidity makes for slightly hard going at present. The shape underneath is a reasonably good one but, in this context, this isn't quite there yet. 16.5/88+

Tulloch Julia Semillon 2011 11.5% $28
Drawn from the 1.5 acre Julia vineyard planted in 1988 in the Pokolbin foothills.

A clean, fleshy and perfectly ripe wine this one, carrying that fresh melon character that a few of the '11 Sems are carrying. It's clean, fleshy, limey and open, with a nose that is already quite attractive. That carries through to the lemon lime melon spritzer palate, the fruit richness held by tighter acidity and tighter structure although still a ripe wine. This wine looks much closer to the base Semillon actually, that generous lemon/lime palate with sherbety undertones all finishing with some classic Hunter Semillon fleshy length.

Strictly speaking this is not a classic Hunter Semillon, but the length looks great and the flavours do to, all making for a wine that is, ultimately, hard not to like. 17.5/91

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