As some of the more astute of you will know, there was no Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon produced in 2015. It was a tough year for the Hunter, with a couple of wet months leading into January. The above average rainfall tested winemakers, with careful selective picking required to ensure a quality crop. Although Mount Pleasant were able to get a low yield off their Lovedale vineyard, they decided not to make their flagship Semillon.
So. We were sniffing around McWilliam's when they offered us this 'Single Vineyard' Semillon from 2015. Released under a (slightly) different label, it appeared for all the world to be the missing vintage. Colour us intrigued.
"Is it Lovedale?" we asked excitedly.
A wry grin and "No comment."
Take that as you will. What we know is that it has classic lemongrass and lime zest aromas, oyster shell minerality and a fine, linear acidity that is beautifully shaped through the palate. Oh, and length for days. This is a classic Hunter Semillon, from what we reckon is a pretty good vineyard.
The site of the Lovedale Vineyard was selected in 1939 by legendary Mount Pleasant founder and winemaker, the late Maurice O’Shea. The vineyard was planted after World War II, in 1946, and the first Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon was made in 1950. This classic white wine comes off these hallowed vines and is made in a very traditional style, with low alcohol, a very crisp and restrained palate and the structure to live for decades.
Lifted aromas of lemon/lime citrus, with a hint of waxy lanolin beginning to creep in. Top notes of white blossom, with a hint of honey, make this nose very inviting. The palate is crisp and youthful, with fresh citrus notes, over a flinty mineral character. The fine-boned acidity is focused and taut, keeping everything beautifully reined in through the finish. Long and detailed, it's a pure Hunter Semillon. Built to last.
McWilliams Mount Pleasant has a long and proud history in the Hunter Valley with some of the earliest vines planted in the region. The property was first used for viticulture by English immigrant Charles King whom settled there in 1880, when he planted the Old Hill vineyard. In 1921 legendary winemaker Maurice O' Shea, after which the top Mount Pleasant Shiraz is named, bought the property from King and extended it before naming his vineyards Mount Pleasant. Mount Pleasant was acquired in full by the Griffith-based McWilliams family in 1941, but O' Shea was kept on as Chief Winemaker. The story of O’Shea is particularly memorable as he managed to craft supreme expressions of Hunter Valley red wines without modern winemaking tools, and in what was at the time a largely unheralded region. Some of his vintages from the 1940’s and 1950’s are still drinking well to this day. O’Shea was also responsible for planting two great additional sites, those being the Lovedale Semillon vineyard on sandy soils at the base of Lovedale Road and the Rosehill Vineyard on Volcanic soils on the Broke Road. Mount Pleasant primarily specializes in two varietals – those being Semillon and Shiraz. For the Semillons, the Lovedale is their finest expression, and one of the best and most long lived in the Hunter Valley. Beneath that are the Phil Ryan Signature and old favourite Elizabeth. For Shiraz, the Maurice O’Shea resides at the top of the quality tree below which are the single vineyard Old Paddock and Old Hill, Rosehill Shiraz with the Phillip always well priced and usually sourced solely from the Hunter Valley.
SAM KIM - WINE ORBIT
From the Lovedale Vineyard, this exquisite semillon shows precision and poise; the delicately expressed bouquet shows lemon peel and green apple characters with whispering notes of jasmine and beeswax. The palate is brilliantly concentrated and focused, delivering outstanding purity and intensity, superbly structured by racy acidity. Tightly wound and restrained for graceful development. At its best: 2020 to 2030.