I remember my first visit to the Hunter Valley in 2007 and calling into Oakvale as my first cellar door experience. I felt very underwhelmed, but left with 2 dozen cleanskin “bin ends” at $6 a bottle. These sorts of visits tend to cloud judgements. So in my many visits since to the Hunter, I often drove past the picturesque, expansive property with its green lawns, shady willows and nationalistic corrugated iron roof and wondered how the wines were faring…wondered about the future of the winery. But maybe I shouldn’t have been worried. Maybe even turned the car into the drive instead of De Iuliius next door for the umpteenth time.
Oakvale are having a resurgence. As one of the Hunter Valley’s oldest wineries, established in 1893, the new lease on life has come about with the Becker Family purchasing the winery in 2010. The refurbished cellar door was a finalist for the 2014 Hunter Valley Cellar Door of the Year awards. A new vineyard manager in Travis Emmett is wanting to ensure vibrant fruit growth with organic techniques.
The Ablington Vineyard, incorporating the George Stevens Vineyard planted in 1980, lies on sandy loam soils just behind the revered McWilliam’s Lovedale vineyard. It’s whispered by old families in the Hunter that “you can’t make good wine from young vines.” So this ‘teenager’ of a vineyard certainly has a long future ahead of it. Just like Oakvale itself.
Oakvale Ablington Vineyard Semillon 2014
Unique nose for Hunter Semillon. Traditionally bright lemon tempered with round softness. The juxtaposition of a textural smell. Like if you ran your nose around the yellow oval fruit whilst gently inhaling. Balanced with lime, a fresh hay bale herbaceousness and very light tropical fruit hint.
Zesty line of Hunter acid complimenting plenty of lemon/lime juice and flesh. Fuller mouth feel than most young Hunter Semillons would be at this age with a very pleasing, more-ish structure. The wild ferment giving some character, and the combination of fermentation vessels grants the unique texture and body of the wine. 40% Stainless steel ensures the zing of the acid remains as the skeleton. 40 % Nomblot concrete Egg (see below) to provide muscle and flesh. 20% “neutral” French Oak giving a soft, smooth skin.
With plenty of ageing potential, this is a unique take on the classic Hunter Valley Semillon that, coupled with exquisite packaging announces its presence with quality and authority.