Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon is one of those ‘wine trade wines’ that we all love to bang the drum about. But Tyrell’s Vat series is no ‘one hit wonder’ as it also features the Vat 47 Chardonnay, Vat 8 Shiraz Cab and Vat 9 Shiraz – all new vintages of which Roger Jones tastes while in conversation with winemaker Bruce Tyrrell, subjects including old vines, screw caps and er… nappies.
“I don’t want the smell of nappies in my Chardonnay,” Bruce Tyrrell says.
I have known Bruce Tyrell for too long to miss his yearly trips to the UK but again this week I had to do with a Zoom call to enjoy his company and the latest launch of his Tyrrell’s ‘Winemakers Selection’, or more commonly known as the ‘Vat Series’. These wines have a charm and uniqueness that makes them stand out in a world of classy Australian wines.
I know many of us beat the drum about Hunter Valley Semillon, and we will continue to highlight this special gem of a wine that delivers something quite special. I know it will be one of the highlights as I start judging Australian wines over the next few weeks for numerous wine competitions. Besides the obvious value, the benefit that it is been aged for around six years before release helps make it a perfect restaurant and off trade wine.
Then we have Hunter Valley Chardonnay, again offering a difference to the norm of Australian Chardonnay with restraint, both in alcohol and in body, with words like ‘seamless’ often used. It is also an area that produces Shiraz closer to the Rhône than most other New World regions.
Tyrrell’s has vines going back to 1867, all on original rootstock, Hunter Valley has never had phylloxera therefore it is quite unique in having such aged virgin vines. Tyrrell has also started making small batches of wines from 100+ year-old vines, but that is for another time and story.
All wines are under screw top, no need to explain this over and over but Tyrrell reminded us that back in the early 1990s he put 10 dozen bottles of wine under cork and 10 dozen bottles under screw top and placed all 20 cases in the same location in the cellar. After 10 years six dozen bottles of each were opened, under screw cap they were all bright and clean and looking superb, under cork they threw away at least a dozen bottles as undrinkable, of the good wines there was little if any difference with the screw cap bottles. I think that this is when Tyrrell said that the “Wanted” posters went up in the Outback looking for the cork bandits.
Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2016
Lemon, lime, fresh and pure on first taste with a hint of lanolin, then grated unwaxed lemon zest, luscious creamy background with a hint of lime marmalade. A touch of beeswax carries this wine that will age for decades. A stunning Semillon that is equally perfect to drink now or hide away in the cellar.
Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay 2019
Planted in 1968 by Murray Taylor, and first released in 1971, this Chardonnay highlights the style of the Hunter and especially Tyrrell’s – precision and restraint.
Oriental citrus on the nose, gentle lemongrass and Thai nuances on the palate, quince, Sharon fruit, and white peeled nectarines, tangerine, custard apple and a hint of struck matchstick. The finish is precise, clean and entices you back to the glass.
No malolactic fermentation, although there is some ageing on lees, and one-year-old barrels are used to ensure restraint, all basket-pressed. Bruce noted: “I don’t want the smell of nappies in my Chardonnay”.
Tyrrell’s Vat 8 Shiraz Cabernet 2019
Spiced milk chocolate, elegant fine balance, cassis, bilberries, soft cedar wood, smoky bacon, sweet and spiced with great restraint and elegance, allow it to evolve in a decanter or keep for a few years.
Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz 2019
Sourced from numerous vineyards with the oldest being from 1918; dark and plummy with spice on the front palate this then opens up with more sweet fruited berries, lush blackcurrants again with spice but refreshed with a precise acidity. On the finish it is silky and pure and lingers with a delicate, refined, perfumed feel.
Bruce says that this is ‘Hunter Shiraz’ not ‘Aussie Shiraz’, with alcohol in general between 12.8% abv and 13.5% abv – he is looking for lovely sweet fruit, with fresh acidity with a lift from the oak, but predominately allows the grapes, soil and land shine.
Thank you Bruce until we meet properly very soon
As for the details on the wines – they are imported by Fells and are in LCB now.
Pricing : RRP £45
- Vat 1 Semillon 2016
- Lay & Wheeler
- Handford Wines
- Noble Green Wines
- Vat 47 Chardonnay 2019
- Haynes, Hanson & Clark
- Hennings Wine Merchants
- Vat 8 Shiraz Cab 2019
- Bordeaux Index*
- IG Wines *
- Vat 9 Shiraz 2019
- Bordeaux Index*
- IG Wines *
*yet to order but will be stocking these wines.