Tyrrell's, Old Winery Verdelho 2012/13 Hunter Valley


From Au$9.99, £8.95, 114 Swedish krone

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I can't believe how much flavour there is in this wine whose alcohol content is just 12.5%, and there is no desperate hurry to drink it. It's the 2012 that is tasting particularly well at the moment – stunningly attractive, with notes of both citrus (recalling one of Australia's great gifts to the world of wine, Hunter Valley Sémillon) and the attractive aspects of varnish, a recurring theme with the Madeira grape Verdelho, I find. It is truly tangy but has good fruit ballast too – and makes a thoroughly satisfying aperitif as well as being assertive enough to drink with food.

Unusually, I moved this screwcapped bottle from my tasting table to our fridge, enjoyed a glass before a meal and returned for a second the next evening only to find the bottle had been drained. We have a house full of family at the moment, but the family is hugely fussy. Clearly this wine hit the spot. And it is far from expensive. I don't have the sense that this wine will deteriorate rapidly in bottle, and Verdelho is generally ageworthy, but the 2012 is already delicious so I see no particular reason to cellar it. The 2013 is well on the way to this delightful state but I would hold it for a few months while the fruit broadens out on the palate, as has happened to the 2012. (I'm including the 2013 here because, in the UK at least, this is the current vintage sold by The Wine Society, at £8.95.) For a pound or two more, the 2012 is still available from Noel Young, Fine Wines Direct, House of Menzies, Amathus and www.vintagemarque.com in the UK  and is currently listed by Sweden's Systembolaget monopoly.

This wine is made by one of the most respected producers in Australia, the sort of historic, mid-sized operation that, like Yalumba in South Australia, forms the solid backbone of the Australian wine industry. Unlike brands such as Penfolds, Rosemount, Lindemans and Wynns that may be associated with some very fine wine but are now part of Treasury Wine Estates, currently apparently unable to fend off a takeover by venture capitalists, Tyrrell's is still owned and run by the Tyrrell family. It was founded in 1858 by Edward Tyrrell in Australia's oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley just north of Sydney. You can (just) see the original homestead in this picture of a page from James Halliday and Ray Jarratt's 1979 book on the Hunter – and the old winery in the name of the wine was built in 1863. It is still in use today, dirt floors and all, although this wine is certainly whistle clean.

See Australia's First Families of Wine for details of the association of a dozen outfits that represent some of the best that Australia has to offer in cellar and vineyard. Most of these families can boast many generations in the wine business. Chris Tyrrell, Bruce's son, is fifth generation, for example. And I well remember Bruce's father Murray as a frequent visitor to L'Escargot when Nick ran it in the 1980s. It is the sort of AFFW heritage that underpins the exciting next generation of Australian winemakers.

Come back on Monday to read our Australian columnist Max Allen's take on the debate currently raging in wine circles in Australia about what constitutes the ideal restaurant wine list.

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