Moss Wood 1997 Semillon
The 1997 Moss Wood Semillon is a surprise packet given the vintage. It shows attractive perfumes of tropical fruit with some fig and passionfruit aromas. The palate shows pristine fruit flavours reminiscent of figs, quinces, granny smith apples and passionfruit, made more complex by some lees character. This is a fresh, vibrant, young white which has impressive weight, great mid-palate intensity and lively, crisp acidity on a finish which lingers.
The 1997 vintage will not go down on record as one of the easiest at Moss Wood. The pinot noir crop was decimated by a hail storm on December 11th, the worst at the vineyard in our experience. The chardonnay crop was severely reduced by strong winds which swept Wilyabrup during the period that the vines were flowering. Unusually gusty winds in late September and during most of October further reduced the chardonnay yield and had a significant influence on the production of semillon from the vineyard in 1997.
The Margaret River weather was much less reliable than usual during the growing season. December was cool and mild and January had two warm spells including the hottest day in more than ten years. Unseasonal rains in February and March turned a harvest that we had believed would be exceptional into one that produced good wines in significantly lower volume than anticipated. Cooler than usual temperatures during February and early March slowed down vintage and the rains during that time led to concerns about disease and the grapes splitting. It then warmed up quickly, ripening the grapes so picking had to take place in a greater rush than usual. This wasn't much of a problem as there wasn't much to pick! The semillon crop was down by fifty five per cent thanks to the unfavourable weather.
Although the flavours before the rain looked better than afterwards, the wine does show the benefit of low yields in its greater than usual concentration. Certainly, we were heartened by the reaction of consumers at the Tucker Seabrook Trade Day in Brisbane.
The 1997 Semillon is made according to the usual procedure at Moss Wood. It is crushed, drained and pressed. The free-run juice and the pressings are combined in sealed stainless steel tanks, settled for seventy-two hours and then racked. At this time, it was left longer than usual, with one per cent solids included, in order to compensate for the probable loss of flavour after the rain. We believe that this had a positive impact on mouthfeel and complexity. The semillon was fermented at 18C over a fourteen day period. Then the tanks were closed, sulphur dioxide was added, and the lees were stirred three times a week. After a much longer than usual ten weeks, the wine was protein stabilised, cold stabilised, fined, lightly filtered and bottled.
Although delicious now, it will age, if cellared well, for ten years or more.