Wine review — Mistloe Hunter Valley Semillon, Chardonnay & Shiraz

Mistletoe Hunter Valley Semillon 2007 $17, Reserve Semillon 2006 $20
There’s a paradox in Hunter semillon. The very warm climate ought to produce alcoholic, fat whites. Instead, early-picked Hunter semillon has a delicacy and at times austere edge — and a trim ten per cent alcohol – more akin to whites from very cool climates. Tiny Mistletoe produces two outstanding versions of this style: the lemony and fresh, but soft, drink-young 2007; and the intense, steely-dry, but deeply-layered Reserve 2006. The 2007 benefits from a tiny residue of unfermented sugar – just enough to plump out the mid palate; and the reserve benefits texturally and in flavour from extended maturation on yeast lees.

Mistletoe Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2006 $20
Reserve Chardonnay 2006 $24
Like the standard and Reserve semillons reviewed above, Mistletoe’s two chardonnays offer variations on a Hunter theme. But instead of lemony, tart, semillon, we have juicy, rich chardonnay. Hand picking and whole-bunch pressing means little juice contact with skins and, hence, greater delicacy. Fermentation and maturation in barrels adds textural richness and subtle aromas and flavours to the very good fruit. This process, applied to very high quality fruit, produces fresh, full, soft, very complex wines, which, though dry, have a fairly typically Aussie impression of sweetness. Both, and especially the more intense Reserve wine, have the potential to age for several years.

Mistletoe Hunter Valley Reserve Shiraz 2005 $26
Former Lindeman winemaker Phil Laffer told me once that he’d shoot any winemaker maturing Hunter shiraz in new oak. By Phil’s measure, the jig’s up for Mistletoe’s Ken Sloan. But, hey, unload the gun. Ken used new French oak hogsheads for this Reserve Shiraz – but still captured the unique, gentle, even tender character of Hunter shiraz beautifully. It’s sourced from an old vineyard in Pokolbin. Though young and intensely flavoured, there’s an elegance and finesse to this wine that might suggest a cool rather than warm growing region. It’s a beautiful regional wine to savour any time in the next twenty years. See www.mistletoewines.com

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007

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