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Silkman Hunter Valley Semillon

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Vineyard/Proprietary Australia

Type Semillon

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You’ll immediately get the sexiness of this wine – it’s light on its feet, delectable, extremely age-worthy, and just 11.5% alcohol. And it’s the result of a talented young couple’s dream.

Shaun and Liz Silkman worked day jobs for over a decade producing other people’s wines in the Hunter Valley. In 2013, they finally got up enough capital to found their own winery, and then, in 2016, they won the James Halliday Wine Competition for the best new winery in Australia.

That may not sound like much to American ears, but James Halliday is like the Jon Bonne of San Francisco—except with 40 more years of experience. Jon has christened the likes of Arnot Roberts, Cruse, and Windgap in California, so to my palate—as I think it will be to yours—here is a delicious discovery from Australia: a new family-owned winery making award-winning wine.

Now some of you don’t like to buy “cheap” wine. If it’s cheap, it can’t be high-quality fruit, right? Well, in California, or Burgundy, that would certainly be correct, and I would agree. But in the Hunter Valley, the Semillon grape averages $400 a ton, or $4 a bottle, so the best of the best is - $40 a bottle? Can it be?

What I am saying here, is that Hunter Valley is an under-appreciated area, and these two hot-shot winemakers are working wonders in the zone. We remember when Nicolas Joly was a young pioneer and his product was priced at $22 a bottle – or when Clos Rougeard sold for $30. So here is our shot at the next great thing!

The wine:

The nose is of salinity and tangerines with a touch of lanolin and lemon. The front palate is light and clean, while the back is stiff and dry, but in that wonderful way that speaks to age-worthiness. I recently drank a 2005 Hunter Valley Semillon with a crew of sommeliers from Chicago in a field of Chablis – none of them could believe what it was, and how fresh it was, and frankly, how much better it was than the very top of the Grand Cru Chablis.

I love exploring the world of wine for just this reason – a find so delicious and wonderful.