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2005 Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon, Hunter Valley
For any amateurs out there who’ve always dreamt of starting their own vineyard but been daunted by the prospect, Brokenwood is the story of living the dream.
It was established as a weekend hobby in 1970 by a trio of Sydney-based solicitors, Tony Albert, John Beeston and wine
writer James Halliday, with nothing more than an immense love of wine and a breathtaking knowledge of the product.
The first vintage, picked in 1973, relied on friends and family, who carried the grapes to the winery in buckets in the back seat of Len Evans’ Bentley.
In the hothouse of the Australian wine industry it was only going to be a matter of time before Brokenwood either went the way of all such dilettante operations or became a serious set-up in its own right.
It took the latter route, with the construction of a new winery and six new partners joining in the late 1970s. 1982 marked the launch of its white wine programme, most notably ‘the jewel of the Hunter’, Hunter Valley Semillon. In the same year Iain Riggs was taken on as chief winemaker, where he remains today.
According to Riggs, Brokenwood aims in each vintage to have a mix of styles to put away in the cellar for release down the track. 2005, a warm, dry year, ‘threw up some beauties and it wasn’t until we had them on the bench and had selected two tanks, and then a blend of the two, that we realised we had ended up with the three classifications that Lindeman’s used in the 60s’ and 70s’.
This was in the days before the political correctness of appellation of origin, so the three distinct styles of Hunter Semillon were classified according to type as ‘Chablis’ (the leanest), ‘White Burgundy’ (the fullest), or ‘Riesling’ (the best).
‘The ILR Reserve Semillon, equal to the top ‘Riesling’ ranking of Lindeman’s, is predominantly a blend of Brycefield and Belford vineyards with a dash of Maxwell vineyard’.
Written by Anthony Rose