January 7, 2020

Tyrrell’s: The First Family of the Hunter Valley

“Our wine business has been in the family for over 160 years, which is an amazing thing. We are lucky enough to make wine from vines planted by our great great grandfather in a time when they had no electricity or any of the luxuries we have today. It is an honor to work with these wonderful assets” -Chris Tyrrell

Chris Tyrrell

Established in 1858, Tyrrell’s could be called the First Family of the Hunter Valley. While at the Wine Media Conference in Austalia this past October, I got to partake in a lovely excursion to Tyrrell’s where we visited the property and tasted through some pretty special wines. Our tour guide was Chris Tyrrell, 5th generation family member and now the COO.


The Tyrrell’s Coat of Arms

In 1963 Tyrrell’s released their iconic Vat 1 Hunter Semillon. This wine is now the most awarded white wine out of Australia. According to Chris, it is known for elegance, power, and strength. Vat 1 came out of the Winemaker’s Selection range when Murray Tyrrell wanted to isolate the best wines of each vintage. He named them after the cask in which they were matured. They are now only bottled in years when they believe the quality is high enough to warrant a separate bottling.

Below are the Vat 1 Semillon wines we had the privilege of tasting while on our excursion to Tyrrell’s. According to Chris, with Semillon, there’s nowhere to hide. Simple and minimal winemaking, which allows the fruit to shine.

*FYI, no oak has been used in these wines at all since the 1980s.

Vat 1 Semillon 2019
A young Hunter Sem showing nicely. On the nose, green fruit, stone fruit, plus a hint of tropical fruit (cantaloupe?) moving into vanilla and delicate white flowers. My tasting notes actually say: delicate white flowers blowing in the wind. But I could have been hallucinating and on a high as I had just seen a kangaroo in the vineyards 🙂

Vat 1 Semillon 2009
This wine is showing the beginnings of age on the nose: petrol and a struck match. These notes are what makes me LOVE aged Hunter Semillon. A beautiful wine with a fruit basket palate and a slight perfumed note.

Vat 1 Semillon 1998
When you taste this wine, you pause. I almost felt like I needed someone to take my hand and walk me through this wine. It is that different and special. Bracing acid that you would expect from a Semillon. Overall, this wine has a full, rounder mouthfeel that other Semillon’s I’ve had.

Working my way through that 1998 Vat 1

“I look forward to continuing to push the barriers of quality in viticulture and winemaking whilst
never forgetting the deeds of the people that got us here.” -Chris Tyrrell

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you are looking to Drink Better and Up Your Wine Game, check out my latest virtual wine tasting offerings, including both public and private wine tasting events. For virtual events, my tastings feature a small-format wine tasting set sent to each attendee for a shared tasting experience. What can you expect from a Virtual Vino event? Fun, approachable, interactive, and unpretentious wine education as we share smiles and wine!
Brianne Cohen is a certified sommelier based out of Los Angeles, California.
She has been producing events and weddings for over 10 years in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and also offers her services as a wine educator, writer, and consultant to inspire people of all ages.

Brianne completed the entire curriculum with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust and traveled to London in order to receive her Diploma certificate, which is one of the most coveted and difficult wine certifications. Most recently Brianne judged at the International Wine & Spirits Competition and the International Wine Challenge in London.
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As a wine blogger, I frequently accept samples for review on the blog and on my social media channels. Please contact me at brianne@briannecohen.com to discuss sending samples for review. I promise to always be honorable with the samples. I will evaluate all wines in good tasting settings and with no distractions. 

All reviews are my opinions, and mine only. Because of the volume of samples I receive, I cannot promise that all samples received will be reviewed, but I will do my best.

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