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  • 1. SEMILLON, SAUVIGNON BLANC & BLENDS Iain Riggs 3 June 2009
  • 2.  
  • 3. HISTORY – OLD WORLD
    • Both Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from well before 1500s.
    • Sauternes from start of 16 century.
    • Principal varieties Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle – min 70%.
    • Not uncommon for Semillon alone to be 80%.
    • Dry wines of both Bordeaux, Loire, SW France and Provence.
    • Bordeaux 1988; Semillon – 11,815ha (48%), Sauvignon Blanc – 4,423ha (18%) of total 24,728ha.
    • Bordeaux AOC 2008; total white – 6740ha.
    • Semillon generally declining in favour of Sauvignon.
    • Modern styles eg 2007 Chateau Doisy Daene Blanc – 100% Sauvignon.
    • Bordeaux blends Sauvignon must be min. 25%.
  • 4. HISTORY – NEW WORLD
    • South Africa, 1822 - Semillon comprised 93% of total vineyard.
    • By 2004, less than 1% approx 1000ha.
    • Chile, Semillon important (1,800ha in 2004) but not as a varietal.
    • Semillon declining in Nth America 490ha in 2004.
    • Australia 2007 - Semillon 6,752ha (8.3% up on 2005).
    • Australia 2008 – Semillon 98,320t.
    • Australia 2007 - Sauvignon Blanc 5,545ha (19% up on 2005).
    • Australia 2008 – Sauvignon Blanc 66,880t.
    • New Zealand, Sauvignon – 7,000ha in 2006.
    • NZ- 2007 Sauvignon represented 59% of white varieties.
    • South Africa, Sauvignon – 6,500ha in 2002 and increasing.
    • Nth America, California Sauvignon – 9,500ha in 2004.
    • On the back of ‘Fume Blanc’.
  • 5. THE GRAPEVINE AND THE COLONY
    • First Fleet – cuttings and seeds.
    • John Macarthur’s tour and collection of 1815/16.
    • France, Switzerland, Maderia and South Africa as sources.
    • James Busby’s tour and collection of 1832.
    • Private importations.
    • The Australian Agricultural Company, 1825 imported Maderia (Verdelho).
    • 1840 the importation of cuttings into South Australia from the Cape of Good Hope.
    • Nurserymen became in demand – Thomas Shepherd at Rushcutter Bay.
    • Semillon imported as ‘Green Grape’ or ‘Wyndruif’ – wine grape.
    • Sauvignon Blanc mentioned by William Macarthur as a mid season ripener.
  • 6. THE HUNTER VALLEY
    • 1828-1830 George Wyndham.
    • 1824 Busby Hunter Valley land grant finally planted by brother-in-law William. Kelman in 1832 at Kirkton.
    • Busby collection split between Sydney Botanical Gardens, Kirkton and Macarthur’s Camden Park.
    • Rapid expansion of the Hunter vine plantings from 1840s up to 80+ha.
    • 1850s – 200ha. Still most on Hunter River alluvial plain.
    • Semillon grown as Shepherds Riesling very successfully.
    • Why? Reasonably tolerant of poor weather, good flavour at low sugar and large juice yield.
    • Fluctuating fortunes of the wine industry, total Hunter area under vine in 1956 down to 466ha.
    • Semillon comprised 243ha and Shiraz 145ha (83% of total).
    • No mention of sauvignon blanc?
    • Why? Early clones poor yield and not tolerant of bad weather.
  • 7. AUSTRALIA 2008 66,880 98,320 TOTAL AUSTRALIA 21,520 24,200 Inland Irrigated-balance 5,000 44,050 Riverina 1,570 140 Yarra Valley 1,200 6 Tasmania 5,840 6,136 Margaret River 2,255 116 King Valley 160 4,270 Hunter Valley 825 46 Coonawarra 165 845 Clare Valley 1,490 6,150 Barossa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (tonnes) Semillon (tonnes) Region
  • 8. REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS – SEMILLON HUNTER VALLEY
    • Long history.
    • Consistent style – low alcohol 9.5% to 11.5%, no oak (initially in big vats), long aging potential.
    • Vagaries of cork ruined many.
    • Young flavours – grassy, cut hay/straw, lime juice, talc, vanillin, lanolin.
    • Can be snow pea/herbaceaous but not suitable for long term aging.
    • Aged flavours – honey, toast, almond bread, vanillin, oak-like.
    • Back palate texture.
  • 9. REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS – SEMILLON BAROSSA VALLEY
    • Various styles.
    • Past have included high alcohol 13% +.
    • Modern Barossa – selected vineyards, lower alcohols 11-12%, no oak.
    • Benefitted greatly from screw cap.
    • Similar range of flavour/aroma profiles except for citrus spectrum.
    • Bees wax and ‘weight’ in front palate.
  • 10. REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS – SEMILLON MARGARET RIVER
    • Similar to Barossa Valley.
    • Hard to get flavour at low sugar therefore often 13-14% alc.
    • Higher sugar increase in herbaceous (methoxypyrazine) character.
    • Canopy management to decrease grassiness.
  • 11. REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS – SAUVIGNON BLANC MARGARET RIVER
    • Perfect climate.
    • Strong varietal character.
    • Gooseberry, tropical, herbal with rich mouth feel.
    • Faults – under ripe, sweaty, baby powder, lantana, nettles.
    • Straight varietal – now days seldom oaked.
  • 12.
    • Subtle differences to Margaret River.
    • Adelaide Hills, more grassy, citrus.
    • Orange, cooler region – acid spine and grassy not tropical.
    REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS – SAUVIGNON BLANC ADELAIDE HILLS AND ORANGE
  • 13. THE BLENDS
    • Blends likely to dominate before single varietals due to history.
    • 1968 Mondavi – Fume Blanc.
    • Tame Sauvignon’s aggressive grassy character with oak.
    • 1978s - Tim Knappstein, Clare Valley Fume style.
    • 70s/80s – Di Cullen, Margaret River – oak fermented Sauvignon.
    • 1981/82 – Iain Riggs, Mclaren Vale – both varietal and blends.
    • Di Cullen – Sauvignon Blanc should be made like Cab Sauvignon. invested with mid-palate weight and pronounced oak.
    • Hazelmere Estate (Riggs) – less oak more fruit.
    • 1990 – Brokenwood, Hunter Valley. McLaren Vale Sauvignon (70%) and Hunter Semillon (30%).
    • Better winemaking – better varietal character.
    • More suited to Margaret River (Mediterranean/ maritime).
  • 14. “… Chardonnay got away first, then married with oak and conquered the world. Sauvignon Blanc was seen as a lighter and fresher alternative – and of lower value because no one had ever tasted a great one. Nor did it gain with age. ….A new wine idiom had arrived. It could recruit drinkers who had scarcely noticed wine before, and it has.” HUGH JOHNSON
  • 15.
    • 1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley
    • 1999 Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon, Hunter Valley
    • 2002 Peter Lehmann Margaret Reserve Semillon, Barossa Valley
    • 2003 Tempus Two Zenith Semillon, Hunter Valley
    • 2005 Vasse Felix Semillon, Margaret River
    • 2006 McWilliam’s Lovedale Semillon, Hunter Valley
    • 2008 Thomas Braemore Semillon, Hunter Valley
    • 2008 Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills
    • 2008 Angullong Sauvignon Blanc, Orange
    • 2008 Logan Sauvignon Blanc, Orange
    • 2008 Goundrey G, Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon, Mt Barker
    • 2008 Cape Mentelle, Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon, Margaret River
    • 2008 Brookland Valley, Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River
    • 2007 Rosemount Show Reserve, Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc, WA
    • 2007 Lenton Brae Wilyabrup, Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River
    THE WINES