Archive for ‘Semillon’

July 29, 2020

Peter Lehman Margaret, Limited Release Barossa Semillon, 2012

Peter Lehman Margaret, Limited Release Barossa Semillon, 2012

This should be an absolute find.  An eight-year-old Semillon, under $30, at 11% alcohol.  Did anyone say patio sipper?  Semillon holds up to fish, cured meats, cheese.  It’s a workhorse white.  Or it should be.


We found it wanting.  The beeswax and minerality clashed rather than melded, the dryness made us pucker, the citrus was jarring.


The label says it is the pinnacle expression of this classic varietal.  Methinks some people in Bordeaux might take exception.


What’s the old Seinfeld joke about the Ford LTD?  “Limited.  The only thing limited about the LTD was how many they could sell.”


Price: An extremely reasonable $28 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: It has limited appeal.

August 8, 2019

Time Meritage (white), 2014

Time Meritage (white), 2014

Gismondi recommended the 2017.  I’d never knowingly drunk a white Meritage so we took the plunge (although anyone drunk on Graves, as I was between bottles of Corvo and Frascati in the 1980s, or living in Australia, as I did for a bit in the 80s as well, has drunk this blend which should, under no circumstances, be called Meritage.  But there you go…).  We made no effort; I found with ease the 2014 so that was the base comparison.  And, yes, surprising.  Full body, creamy, lots of luscious butterscotchy, tangerine and  lemon blossom notes with just the absolute perfect note of oak.  Did we like it?  I think we were so surprised that we didn’t not like it we ended up liking it more than it deserves.  And it deserves another tasting, another vintage.


We love us some good Sem Sauv Bl (preferably Australian) and have waxed poetic many times on the No 41 Ecole here or here e.g.,  and nearly wet our pants with the Buty.  So if you think of Washington as gangbusters this is good but it’s Carlos Sainz in BC to the Lewis Hamilton down south.  Gismondi says the best wine they bottle at Time.  I can say one thing for certain: Unless gifted, probably the only wine we’ll ever drink from Time.


Price: $25 at Save On (but less if you get a mixed batch of six).


Market Liquidity: Formula 3.

March 21, 2018

L’Ecole No 41 Semillon, 2012

From the cellar: We found the very last bottle.  We hung on as long as we could.  But then the temptation became too great. Glug.


Our first post about a L’Ecole Semillion was here, and after that we bought it in multiples, stashing them away; but as we got through several lying down we posted on this vintage two years ago here.  Not much has changed; this wine just got better.  So much better.


Where to begin?  All over the map with wild tangents of bass an treble: White pepper, woodsy, minerally, piquant, a balanced acidity, vanilla, plum, fresh bread, a scrumptious finish longer than the Oscars.


What was really exquisite about the “lay down” was how muted everything became but the wine lost none of its expression.  Very hard to articulate.


Price: No recollection.  Used to be able to get it for $16 in Blaine, WA.


Market Liquidity: A simple treasure.

March 15, 2017

Aquifer Semillon, 2015

Like being stranded in the desert and finding an oasis.  Or stumbling upon a mirage.  It depends on your view.


Strange and unusual and overwhelmingly addictive but in the same breath a little cloying and annoying.


Abrasive minerality, aggressive herbaceous-ness, pronounced acidity.  Steely Chardonnay-esque plonk on the palate.  A long, sour, grassy finish.


All of it enticing, an evocation of terroir, so, so, so not Bordeaux Blanc, but weirdly appealing in a deer in the headlights sort of way.  A cross of medicinal with luxe.


Price $30 at Everything Wine (which is too expensive for the purely adventurous I think but something I will buy again, probably many times over).


Market Liquidity: A diamond in the scrubby rough of tasteless, bland and nondescript Semillon which sinks the BC marketplace.

October 24, 2016

Mount Pleasant Elizabeth, Hunter Valley Semillon, 2007


Here’s a wild bargoon: Only $20 in the generic BCL aisle, an excellent example of Hunter Valley Sem; a little heavy on the tart, with tinges of apple and pear, particularly that rough skin on a Bosc (which I believe the pointsters say tastes of lanolin, if anyone knows the taste of lanolin), clean and crisp if a tad heavy.  While we like our Sem over here at BBCW, it’s an acquired taste in Canada, if the relative rarity is anything to go by.  And the best are best laid down; witness some spectacular L’Ecole.  So while the snobs are eager to pick up a Sauternes and I have an incredible predilection for white Bordeaux (god forbid you can find it, and afford it), once you get out of France the grape seems to evaporate into the ether.


I was a little non-plussed by the blaring gold medal decals on the side, but still, at this price point, how incredible for the novice to give Sem a whirl and, for the thrift-conscious, how easy on the pocket-book?


Price: $21 before egregious taxes. (Check out the listing on the BCL site.  They have  set the Hunter Valley region, which is in New South Wales northwest of Sydney, as being in Western Australia.  Well, it’s Australia, west of British Columbia.)


Market Liquidity: Like a find at Winners.


August 29, 2016

L’Ecole No 41 Semillon, 2012

L'Ecole No 41 Semillon, 2012

From the cellar: Four years ago we waxed poetic about this wine.  Somewhere along the wine, er, way, a few bottles ended up in the cellar.  I pulled one out on the weekend.  Oh what magic.


When a Semillon has some time, or, rather, when a good Semillon has some time, it’s like pupa to monarch, they really grandstand.  This has the hallmarks of something I opened too soon.  Doh!  But what a beauty, no regrets.  A sharp menthol dry pine on the nose, star fruit and pecans and honey on the palate, from tart to smooth in one evolving swoop, generous to a fault, with a lingering tropical punch on the finish.  Delectable and then some.


Price: No record.  Used to sell in Blaine for $16 USD and in Toronto for $25, which is a steal in my books.


Market Liquidity: Walla Walla Walla Walla Walla Walla.  Walla.

June 30, 2016

La Frenz Vivant, 2013 & La Frenz Ensemble, 2013

La Frenz Vivant

La Frenz Vivant, 2013

So close.  I mean look at the label, what a gorgeous blend, it’s whet-your-wine appetite enticing.  Viognier, a touch of sweetness, Chardonnay, a touch of class, Rousanne, a touch of herbal tea.  It makes you want to buy three bottles, one of each viaretal, take an eye dropper, and experiment in blends.  I had such high expectations.  But, while not a dud, it reaches for the stars and only gets two points from within the three point line.  All the way through we kept thinking about how the flavour tried, but couldn’t.  It touched on moments of interest but never got there.  It was like a roller coaster rolling backwards rather than cresting the hill.  If there was Rousanne, the Rousanne you associate with the Rhone, we were too inept to decipher it.  We did not get the potpourri or spice or complexity we expected; peaches and papaya, yes, although nothing to write much of a review about.


Price: $25 from the vineyard.


Market Liquidity: Lewis Hamilton on the label, but the wine inside 12th on the grid.

La Frenz Ensemble

La Frenz Ensemble, 2013

A big surprise.  We put the bottle on the table and the next thing you know it was empty.  And we only had the one!  Extremely food friendly, enough acid and citrus Sauvignon style to wash down Asian or fish and chips.  Enough Semillon to have more interest in plain old SB.  Not as austere, striking or noteworthy as some of the noble Hunter Valley Sem/Sauv blends, but really lovely, approachable, and, as I said, easy to drink.  The citrus floral aspects counter a lingering creamy finish which leads to just one more sip. A keeper, by which I mean I should have cellared it.


Price: $25 from the vineyard.


Market Liquidity: Nico Rosberg quietly slips into first place.

mercedes crash

January 28, 2016

Château Les Charmes-Godard, 2013

Like air-dried linen, crisp, sharp—sushi knife sharp—but comforting nonetheless. The deep rusty metallic Semillon has superb balance with a muted and peppery green Sauvignon Blanc; we felt the Semillon was front and centre, although many punters disagree. The briny finish is long with touches of preserved lemon, orange blossom and, believe it or not, heat. None of the hay you associate with New Zealand. For those who appreciate Bordeaux Blanc (more please Nicolas Thienpont), stellar.

Château Les Charmes-Godard, 2013

Hugh Johnson called Bordeaux, three years ago, a luxury item; rightly so. The “emerging markets” have not made a decent claret any more affordable. And we’re not in the market for Hermes or Prada, so decent Bordeaux is in fact a treat. But for those with the deep pockets we can be thankful they consider Bordeaux Blanc a lesser wine. Thank Jesus. It may be a lesser wine to the aficionados, but the craft is pure Bordeaux.


Intellectual aside: This wine reminded us of a 1921 poem Nabokov wrote to his mother which included the quote “…my mood is as radiant as ever. If I live to be a hundred, my spirit will still go around in short trousers.”


Price: $18.75 USD sometime in 2015.


Market Liquidity: Fortunately not in fashion.

November 8, 2015

Bartier Brothers Semillon, 2013

The most elegant BC white of the year? The epitome of non-Bordeaux Semillon, with a strong but not overbearing gun metal on the palate and a hint of peachy fruit on the finish. A nominal effervescence and a delectable 12.9 per cent alcohol. Clean, pure, straightforward and elegant to boot.

Sorry for the crap pic

Sorry for the crap pic

Here’s the catch: It’s Semillon, perhaps the most ignored, derided, misunderstood and least appreciated varietal in the major leagues. We love it, I can wax poetic on the many fine Australian bottles over the years (the Aussies do excel) but don’t dare serve it to guests. The sharp, flinty, flatness of it will leave them puckering and wanting.


Price: A sensational $17.40 at the vineyard (factor in the extras and it’s still a phenomenal price).


Market Liquidity: Diamond in the rough.

June 26, 2012

Château Haut-Bergey Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, 2006

From the cellar: White Bordeaux.  Sounds like an oxymoron.  Even the more eloquent Bordeaux blanc sounds like a misnomer.  And it comes at a steep price to boot.  The day I bought it, the white next to it was Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte, a mere $299 (seriously) with aging potential according to the “specialist” on duty to 2024.  Maybe in 2024, after all the European banks collapse, it will look like a bargain?


Without much context to compare it to, except a brilliant bottle of Pavillon Blanc I had the rare opportunity to drink a few decades ago, the finer white Bordeaux’s are out of my price range and out of my reach.  But this was pleasure all round, if you like a fulsome white.


The HBB is sturdy, crisp, tart with a minerally undertone and an almost perfect balance of “just enough” oak.  A masculine white; think Lee Marvin in Point Blank masculine.  What I imagine the very good Aussie Sem-Sauv blends aspire to be, but sometimes end up more Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter.


With food it went well pre-dinner; we had Marcona almonds, some olives and charcuterie.  It held up well with a gorgeous finish.  It was strong enough I think to complement any number of meats.  However, for a main we had a delicious cheese souffle and (my mistake) this needed something gentler and more floral.  I should have pulled out the Huet Vouvray Petillant, but what was done was done.


Price: $49 in 2009 at BC Liquor; how or why I had the cash or inclination is anyone’s guess…


Market Liquidity: Wonderful.  Just not, price wise, twice as good as new world Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc blends.