“Gabrielle Bonheur ‘Coco’ Chanel once said ‘Fashion changes – style endures’ which I think says it all about Barossa Valley Semillon.
In my view, time has proven Semillon to be the only white variety grown in the Barossa Valley capable of producing a world class wine. And whilst many times over the years other eminently more popular varieties have been planted in the dry Barossa Valley soils, none have produced a wine of excellence, and none have endured.
The piles of freshly ripped Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay vines that litter the Barossa Valley landscape today are glaring testament to this. That the Barossa Valley can still lay claim to be home to the oldest plantings of Semillon in the world is thanks to the generations of Barossa grape growing families who’ve stuck by it (despite the cripplingly low prices being paid in many cases) and the handful of battle-hardened Barossa winemakers who’ve worked long and hard as impassioned advocates, almost always in the face of considerable and sustained headwinds.
Yet in spite of all this…and its outstanding pedigree, provenance, impressive qualities and unquestionable style, the tragic irony is that ‘unfashionable’ Semillon now faces the same fate that has befallen even the most ‘fashionable’ varieties! As every year goes by, the Barossa’s stocks of old vine Semillon continue to dwindle. Back in 2011, on a bit of an impulse (Who? Me? Impulsive? Never!!) I bought a small parcel of Semillon from an 80 year old vineyard on the eastern edge of the Barossa Valley near Angaston. We pressed the juice off oxidatively and fermented it cool with a little solids to offer some textural complexity. About 20% was matured in new French oak for around 3 months before we bottled.