One of the highlights of any year is a Tyrrell’s Vat release. Essentially a museum release, as the whites at least have already been offered to their Private Bin membership about 10 months after vintage. Bottle age is always an advantage however, for either red or white as we can attest. We are lucky to try these wines years before their official release, but their growth in weight, complexity, detail and overall sensual experience is immense.
This year’s release included a 2011 Stevens Semillon, the finest example of the variety I have tasted at this age. The 2011 vintage is a great one for the Hunter Valley and the Stevens weighing in at 11.5% alc is in the classic mold of a wine from a bygone era. Statuesque, ethereal, rippling muscle, fleshy fruit and coiled power, there are decades and decades of pleasure ahead.
Vat 1 is Australia’s standard bearer for consistent classicism: it never disappoints. Undoubtedly in a sweet spot now, I think we’ll see this beauty shut down again in 6 months or so, before unfurling again. Almost all wines are annuals. They have a window of development that is essentially linear and they are, to a degree, predictable in their flowering. Hunter Valley Semillon is the vinous equivalent of a perennial that you prune differently after every flowering. The shape of next year’s opening is always different and fascinating.
All the other wines are from 2019, a difficult vintage, particularly as it comes off the back of what are widely considered two great vintages. Nonetheless the wines are beautiful. Concentrated, with complex flavour profiles, ripe tannins and soft acids. Quite different from the sleek framed classicism of 2017, or imperiousness of 2018, the 2019 release shows wines that are deliciously open. They will of course cellar, probably very well indeed, due to their fine balance and cruising structures. As always, (has it ever been otherwise?), another wonderful suite of Tyrrell’s.
Aromatic and complex nose of custard apple, preserved lemon, lime and white flowers. Plush, fleshy, pulpy palate, white and yellow peach, apricot, nectarine and dried herbs. Texturally complex, beginning lanolin like, before firming up and becoming chalky. Remarkably youthful, and delicious to drink now, but has decades ahead. Classic Hunter River Burgundy and the finest Semillon I have tasted at this age.
Sensual and suave, with flavours I haven’t found in a Vat 1 before. Just when I thought I knew what to expect! Preserved lime, fresh lemon, cream, kiwifruit, gardenia and honeysuckle. Subtle and very young. This seems quite open, but I feel this will shut down soon and be the better for it. A wonderful Vat 1 that hints at greater potential
Fabulous. Grilled nuts, cream, white flowers, white peach and grapefruit. For all it’s richness, this is full of energy and tension. Expansive palate, the Semillon cuts through the Chardonnay but provides extra width too. Many people have described this as similar to Chablis, but there is more fruit here and I would drink this over most Chablis any day. I have not had the benefit of tasting an aged Vat 63, but my overall impression is that this will be very long lived and will reward greatly those who are lucky enough to dust off an old bottle or two.
Honeysuckle, sunflowers, yellow peach, nectarine, grapefruit and grilled nuts. Full bodied and dense, with a deep core of fleshy fruit, dusted with savoury spice. One of the most open Vat 47’s we have tasted and the carry is very long with a pronounced mineral close. Absolutely delicious, and one of our favourite chardonnays from anywhere.
From the first whiff the Vat 8 waves the flag of Tyrrell’s and the Hunter Valley. Cola, blackcurrant, blackberry, cinnamon, coffee, milk chocolate, clove and violets. Full bodied, plush and lifted by Christmas cake spice and crunchy red fruits. Luxurious and round, with ripe tannins and soft acids. The most digestible Vat 8 of recent years.
Aromatic and very complex. A compote of black, blue and red fruits, vanilla, lavender, cinnamon and clove. Sweet and savoury fruit, there is always greater intensity and stronger frame than the Vat 8. Medium to full bodied, muscular and crunchy, with terrific detail and layered flavours. Builds across the palate, and is a real feast for the senses. Five years would not do this any harm at all, but ten years would be better. Great wine.