Moss Wood 2002 Semillon
The Moss Wood 2002 Semillon is more full bodied, more powerful and more deeply flavoured than in most years. It has intriguing granny smith apple, fig and lemon citrus aromas; dried herb, new-mown hay, lemon citrus and apple flavours; incredible richness and concentration with crisp tangy acidity. This is a complex, harmonious and mouth-filling white with a lively, creamy texture and a zingy dry finish of good length.
A warm spell in June took the vines out of winter dormancy and encouraged early bud burst. This led to irregular flowering (hence fewer shoots per vine) and indifferent shoot growth because it took place in wintry weather. The net result was the vines set a below average crop. Apart from this, the growing season was mild with little early summer rain. Some made-to-order rain in January did stimulate vine growth and this was followed by mild weather in a long, cool period leading up to harvest. As the entire crop was netted there were no problems with marauding birds. The semillon was picked over three rain-free weeks in three batches (at 13.1, 13.8 and 14.1 degrees baume) in fantastic condition but sadly 40% down in quantity.
The early season difficulties really came back to haunt us. The volume may be small but the Moss Wood team are delighted with the quality. In previous vintages which experienced a lighter crop (1981 and 1997 - but not 1986), the wines tended to be more tannic and more aggressive than usual. To everybody's relief, that is not the case in 2002, and the wine is beautifully balanced.
After the brief flirtation with wild yeast fermentations in 1999 and 2000, Moss Wood is firmly determined to follow its traditional practices of making semillon. The grapes are destemmed, pumped through the must chiller where they are cooled to 8C, before being pressed. After that, they are cold settled for 48 hours at 12C, then the clear juice is run off into the fermentation tank which is inoculated with a pure yeast culture. All pressings and 2% of solids are added before fermentation, which is controlled at 18C, and results in the wine achieving dryness in about 14 days. During fermentation the lees are stirred daily and this is continued once a week for six weeks to improve the texture and mouth feel of the Semillon.
There is always some conservative research and development going on at Moss Wood and this year we trialled a new yeast species looking to achieve the best possible texture - with pleasing results. The 2002 Semillon was left in tank for just short of six months, then fined, cold stabilized and filtered before being bottled.
While most will enjoy it in its first flush of youth as an exuberant, vibrant accompaniment to food, Moss Wood Semillons from the best years have shown that they can be transformed by careful cellaring for ten years or more into a complex, mellow and satisfying drink.
In general the Semillon shows fresh, fruity and lively characters up to 3 years of age. It tends to go into a sleepy dull stage between the age of 3-5 years. Between 5-6 years it should start to pick up rich, honey, toasty characters. These characters are usually at their peak between 10-15 years and will remain enjoyable until at least 20 years old.