Janice McDonald is one of the best white winemakers in Western Australia, with a particularly adept touch with Bordeaux varieties. This Sauvignon/Semillon two step has no oak, so it’s very much a New World rather than a Graves (Bordeaux) style, but that’s part of its appeal. Aromatic and herbal, with palate-tingling acidity and fresh grapefruit and gooseberry notes.
This cool climate, low alcohol white from the Hunter Valley is consistently one of the stars of Tesco’s range. Its crisp, lazer-like acidity is offset by a little sweetness (although you don’t notice it), but it’s still leafy and green, with notes of dill and green olive and a tangy finish. Like Hunter Semillons, this wine ages extremely well.
This wine has been on Sainsbury’s shelves for a while (a reflection of Semillon’s lack of popularity, rather than the quality of this example, which is outstanding), but now is still a great time to buy this aged Hunter white. Toasty, fresh and mature with focused acidity and notes of lemongrass and cream soda and a long, unoaked finish. Go on, give it a go!
That’s £15 per half by the way, just in case you were amazed by the bargain on offer here. Still, it’s a lovely Sauternes, made by a property that made some of the best sweet wines in Bordeaux in 2009. This is honeyed and intense, but with less concentration than the same château’s grown up wine. Sweet vanilla pod and crème brûlée notes combine with a citrus lift on the palate. Classy stuff.
Why don’t the South Africans plant more Semillon in the Cape, given how successful the variety seems to be there. This one from the cool, ocean-influenced area of Elim is toasty, herbal and very refined, with lovely lime and citrus blossom flavours and the potential to age, Hunter Valley-style, in bottle.
Thsi has been on the shelves for a while at JS, which suggests that (baffling though it is to me) it isn’t selling. This is the weekend to rectify that, because it’s an amazing wine at the price. Light-bodied, in classic Hunter style, with notes of toast and lemon sherbet and a tangy finish from early picked grapes. Essence of the Hunter.
2009 Vasse Felix Semillon, Margaret River (£13.99, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer). If you find some Hunter Valley Semillons a little austere, especially when they’re young, try a bottle of this western Australian example instead. Made by the talented Virginia Wilcock, it’s got lovely notes of toast, honeysuckle and cream soda, with zesty acidity and subtle vanilla oak. It’s very enjoyable now, but I suspect this will reward cellaring too.