To say Thomas Wines from the Hunter Valley is a hidden gem may sound ridiculous. There is nothing ‘hidden’ about it. Indeed, when most people list their favourite Hunter Valley producers, Thomas Wines is always at the top of that list. With a new cellar door on the corner of Hermitage Road and Mistletoe Lane, this estate is a must see, must taste, must buy venue in the Hunter Valley. In fact, stop reading and drive there now!
Despite incredible recognition in the wine trade, Thomas wines are still hard to find on Sydney wine lists. Or anywhere else for that matter. Hence the title – hidden gem.The prices are ludicrously cheap for the quality, and most of the wine is sold via cellar door and their wine club members. Semillon is Australia’s only unique white wine gift to the world and Thomas is an incomparable proponent of an all Australian classic.
A little history of the vineyard and producer
We first visited the Hunter Valley in 2001 and have been buying Thomas Wines from this time. The oldest bottle we have in the cellar is the Braemore 2004 Semillon and I can’t quite bring myself to open it. Just a little longer! The range has increased since then and, how I don’t know, but the wines are even better.
Originally from McLaren Vale,Thomas has been in the Hunter Valley a long time. Working at Tyrrells for 13 years, before leaving and focusing on his own business. Thomas owns and leases vineyards, but the greatest coup to date was the purchase of the Braemore vineyard in 2017. Certainly one of the finest Semillon vineyards in the Hunter Valley.
Thomas makes a range of Semillon wines, showcasing different styles and single vineyards. I cannot think of a better range of Semillon, certainly on a par with Tyrrells. Stylistically, there is something for everyone, including a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauvignon Blanc fruit comes from Shaw and Smith in the Adelaide Hills. All fantastic wines at great prices.
2018 Two of a Kind Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – A blend of 58% Hunter Valley Semillon and 42% Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Abundant tropical fruits and a lovely citrus backbone. Lovely texture and weight from the Savvy while the Semillon keeps the wine crisp and fresh. The perfect session wine.
2018 Six Degrees (off dry) Semillon – I’m a sucker for off dry Riesling, so it’s no surprise that I love this wine. Similar to a Kabinett style wine from Germany. The wine still speaks of Semillon so it’s even lighter and more delicate. Very pure with juicy lime fruit, lemon zest and a touch of honey. Light on its feet with with a nervy, tingling finish. Best with a wide variety of Asian dishes and Middle Eastern cuisine. Or whatever. It’s bloody lovely!
2018 Fordwich Hill Semillon – Grown on rich volcanic soils at the western edge of the Hunter, the Fordwich Hill vineyard ripens early. As a consequence, the vineyard is ideal for making Semillon thats fuller bodied and with softer textures. The 2018 vintage release is the best to date. With classic juicy limes and touches of tropical fruit, this is my favourite contemporary Semillon to be found in the whole Valley.
2018 OC Semillon – From the great Oakey Creek vineyard planted in 1976. Traditional, classic Hunter Valley Semillon. Always at it’s best in warmer vintages, this is a belter. The best OC Semillon ever made. Period. Beautiful nose of lemon and limes with a hint of spice. The palate is so nervy and rippling with electric energy. There is surging current of shimmering citrus fruit and the brightest lemony fresh finish. Thirst quenching wine and an incomparable Hunter Valley Semillon.
2018 Braemore Semillon – The stripped down essence of Hunter Valley Semillon and one of the finest white wines in Australia. The richest and juiciest of the Semillons on offer and the most structured. Limes, lemon and lemon pith bathe the palate. Scintillating freshness. Wonderful tension between the juicy almost sensual fruit and the muscle and acidity. Great wine. One of the best Braemore’s to date.
The reds from Thomas Wines belie the man’s origins. They have always been full bodied, rich and succulent with plenty of toasty vanilla oak to boot. Modern, contemporary Hunter Valley Shiraz. Consistent too, promising even in the wettest years to have plenty of fruit and texture. Greater elegance has crept into the wines in more recent years. Freshness, buoyancy and crunchy acidity have revolutionised the reds. They are now the benchmark of the ‘modern”‘style Hunter Shiraz. As with the whites – ridiculous bargains.
2017 Two of a Kind Shiraz – A blend of 55% Hunter Valley Shiraz and 45% McLaren Vale Shiraz. Fresh nose of blue and red fruits. The palate is succulent and juicy with sweet fruit and gentle spice. Impossible not to love this. The ultimate bistro wine.
2017 DJV Shiraz – Medium bodied and Thomas’s take on “Hunter River Burgundy”. Needless to say there’s lashings of fruit here, but loads of crunchy freshness too. Sweet black cherries, spiced plums and savoury acidity. I can feel a T-Bone coming on.
2017 Sweetwater Shiraz – Fabulous aromatics. Beautiful nose of red and blue fruits and cinnamon. Rich and full bodied with blueberries, blackfruits red cherries, milk chocolate and toasty vanilla oak. Lovely texture and ripe supple tannins. A Hunter Valley nod to McLaren Vale.
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