Moss Wood 2020 Semillon

Wine Facts
Median Harvest Date20th February, 2020
Mean Harvest Ripeness14.0° Be
Yield5.87 t/ha
Ripening Time from Flowering to Harvest96 days
Bottled13th July, 2020
Released10th November, 2020
Alcohol14.5 %

Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

A very fresh, lemony nose and palate here. This is pure semillon that strikes a sweet spot of ripeness. Holds so fresh on the palate thanks to zesty acidity. Gently layered finish. Drink or hold. Screwcap  

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Justin Keay, TheBuyer.net

The first wine I’ve tasted produced anywhere from that fateful year is actually a real cracker, with a light almost ethereal nose and palate which widens a few hours after opening to reveal green apple, pear and sherbet flavours. Very young obviously but the potential for real development here is considerable. Published April 2021

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Ray Jordan, The Weekend West Australian

This remains one of my favourite wines in Margaret River. Mugford makes this in stainless steel so what you get is pure unadulterated semillon with the richness and intensity that says Margaret River. It’s always good to very good. In this year of intense ripe fruit, it is outstanding and a great example of what…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – John Lewis, Newcastle Herald

A grape to love The Moss Wood 2020 Wilyabrup Semillon is from a grape the Mugfords love for “growing like a weed and making vibrant wines that cellar for decades”. This 2020 has 14.5% alcohol, pale straw hues, kiwifruit aromas and zingy ruby grapefruit front-palate flavour. The middle shows apple, flint and lemon curd and…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Ray Jordan, Wine Pilot

Always good to very good. In this year of intense ripe fruit, it is outstanding and a great example of what can be done with this variety as a standalone varietal. lemony citrus tang with a crisp acidity. The power of the palate is extraordinary yet it delivers with such precision and fine elegance. Published…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Marc Malouf, Wine Worth Writing About

Pale straw with a yellow reflection and an intensely aromatic and tropical leaning nose of musky florals, frangipani, lime, passionfruit, banana gums, papaya, pineapple, Piel de Sapo melon, lemon zest and icing sugar. Deeper notes of apricot nectar and some gentle stalkiness gives depth. Super ripe and powerful. Rich, full and sweet in the mouth…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Ralph Kyte-Powell, The Real Review

Distinctly different to the famous Hunter Valley version of semillon, this is rich and full, maybe a little too much so for some. Although unoaked, its weight and texture suggest extra dimensions over simple fruit. Citrus, nectarine and pear with a touch of almond brittle open on the nose, and a deep, lush palate follows…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Bob Campbell, The Real Review

Rich, concentrated semillon, with delicately succulent tropical fruit and ripe tree fruit flavours that are tempered with lime-citrus flavours. Layers of deliciousness kept under control with tangy, mouth-watering acidity. An appealing wine. Published Dec 2020

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Angus Hughson, Wine Pilot

Moss Wood has developed a reputation for its unique semillons with the bright crisp acidity of the Hunter Valley matched up with a more textural palate. They are beautifully food friendly wines that can also age well. The 2020 has created a richer and more forward wine than usual that is ready for early drinking.…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Casey Bryan, travellingcorkscrew

Hands up if you’re a Semillon lover? I love versatile grapes which can produce a range of sweet, dry, still and sparkling wines and that’s exactly what the golden-skinned Semillon grape can do. This here is the perfect example of a dry still wine made from 100% Semillon grown in WA’s Margaret River region. .…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Winsor Dobbin, Gourmet on the Road

Moss Wood have been making wines in Margaret River since the industry began in the region – planting their first vines in Wilyabrup in 1969. This has a real wow! factor about it, with incredible depth of flavour. While many in the region blend semillon with sauvignon blanc, this is made in the Hunter style;…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

My goodness, this is a different expression of Semillon. I’d never pick it blind as one, which is no bad thing, and anyway, it could well say more about me than the wine. Rich and ripe, apple and pear, maybe some lemongrass, but nothing much in the way of greenery aside that. It’s fleshy and…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – Marc Malouf, Wine Worth Writing About

Pale straw with a yellow reflection and an intensely aromatic and tropical leaning nose of musky florals, frangipani, lime, passionfruit, banana gums, papaya, pineapple, Piel de Sapo melon, lemon zest and icing sugar. Deeper notes of apricot nectar and some gentle stalkiness give depth. Super ripe and powerful. Rich, full and sweet in the mouth…

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Moss Wood 2020 Semillon – James Halliday, Top 100 Wines, The Wine Companion

Although vinified à la Hunter Valley – clear juice with multiple yeasts, bottled straight after cold fermentation – the result is a universe away from young Hunter semillon. It has striking depth to its supple lemongrass and white peach fruit flavours, lengthened and balanced by demure acidity. Published Nov 1st, 2020

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Wine Facts

  • Median Harvest Date

    20th February, 2020

  • Mean Harvest Ripeness

    14.0° Be

  • Yield

    5.87 t/ha

  • Ripening Time from Flowering to Harvest

    96 days

  • Bottled

    13th July, 2020

  • Released

    9th November, 2020

  • Alcohol

    14.5%

Vintage Notes

The famous line, “We’ll all be “rooned”, said Hanrahan”, from “Said Hanrahan”, by John O’Brien, is much quoted by and about Australian farmers.  Looking back on the 2020 vintage, it’s seasons like this that capture why O’Brien wrote the poem and highlight the pitfalls Mother Nature can bestow upon those of us on the land.  We saw them up close and personal this year.

In southeastern Australia, the bushfires were yet another reminder we serve at Mother Nature’s pleasure.  Every now and then she’ll show us that no matter how clever we think we are, she’s really in charge.  The fire and smoke damage, with commensurate loss of crop and property was simply awful.  In some respects, we were fortunate in Margaret River and were able to avoid fire, although that gives us no reason for complacency.  In our heavily wooded region, dangerous bushfires are a genuine threat every summer.  Our challenges were more traditional.

Truth be known, our growing season got off to a good start.  Things had been dry, with rainfall down about 20% but by the end of October, we’d received 769mm of rain, so for viticulture at least, we were not in drought.  We were proceeding quite comfortably until 12.15am on Thursday 24th October, when we received a very solid hailstorm which lasted for nearly a minute.  For those who are interested in context, if hail lasts for longer than about 10 seconds, it will do significant harm to the vines.  When we investigated afterwards, we found major wounds on shoots, leaves and bunches, right across both Moss Wood and Ribbon Vale.

It’s difficult to estimate exactly what was lost but the 2020 Semillon yield was down 40% at 5.87 tonnes/hectare.  Once we harvested the crop, we could see the hail had impacted both the number and size of the bunches, down 6% and 34%, respectively.

To limit the damage, immediately after the event we sprayed to prevent fungal disease becoming established on all the wounds.  The treatment worked and prevented things getting worse but it didn’t replace what was physically bashed and destroyed by the hail.

After this amusing interlude, things returned to normal.  Semillon flowered during November, enjoying very little rain and only 4 days when the temperature dropped below 8°C.  What remained of the bunches had a chance to set a reasonable crop.

We also enjoyed a warm summer, the first one since 2013.  In the end, Semillon accumulated 1105 hours in the temperature range of 18-28°C, comfortably above the preferred minimum of 1000 hours.  There were some nice hot days along the way and the vines accrued 65 hours above 33°C.  The hottest day of the summer was 4th February, when the mercury topped out at 38°C.

Most importantly, with a small crop and such excellent ripening conditions, the remaining fruit sprinted through to full maturity.  We harvested the Semillon on 20th February, 18 days earlier than average.  The days elapsed from flowering to harvest were 96, some 12 days faster than usual and the sugar level reached 14.0° Baume, roughly 10% riper than average.  Needless to say, the 2020 is one of the richest Semillons we’ve made.

Production Notes

As usual, all the fruit was hand-picked and delivered to the winery where the bunches were sorted and then transferred to the presses.  The pressed juice was racked to stainless steel and settled for 48 hours and then the clear juice was racked to a second stainless steel tank.  It was seeded with multiple yeast cultures for primary fermentation, which was controlled to 18°C.  Once completed, the finished wine was racked off gross lees and fining trials were carried out.  In the end, we found the wine had excellent natural balance, so it was only fined with bentonite for protein stability.  It was then sterile filtered and bottled on 13th July, 2020.

Hanrahan was wrong.  We weren’t rooned, not even close.  We may have made a bit less but what we did get tastes fabulous.  We’d just prefer a few less challenges.

Tasting Notes

Colour and condition:

Medium straw hue, with green tints; bright condition.

Nose

Classic fully-ripened Semillon fruit aromas, with lots of fig, rock melon, pear and quince notes.  The background is ripe Gala apple and lemon sherbet, sitting over what are the beginnings of butterscotch, lanolin and mushrooms. 

Palate

Generous ripe fig and apple notes fill a round, full bodied palate, capturing the essence of the vintage. Acidity and tannins are firm but are currently sitting under rich fruit note and will only become evident as the wine ages.  One of the most drinkable Semillons we’ve made.

Cellaring

Despite the obvious early-drinking appeal, this is definitely a wine for the cellar.  It has the generosity of the famous Moss Wood 1980 Semillon and will certainly repay, in the same way, those who have the time and patience to cellar it.  To develop some bottle bouquet, the 2020 vintage will need to be cellared for at least 10 years but will need at least a further decade after that to reach full maturity.