Mt Pleasant winery has a new wine on the shelves, a 31-year-old 1986 Elizabeth semillon

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Mt Pleasant cellar door manager Tristan Jones with the new 1986 bottle and the original bottle that was released in 1991.
BACK TO THE FUTURE: Mt Pleasant cellar door manager Tristan Jones with the new 1986 bottle and the original bottle that was released in 1991.

Hunter wineries have been banging on for years about the wonderful aging potential of their flagship white wine, semillon.

But nothing like this.

Now, one winery – the historic Mount Pleasant at Pokolbin – has taken the unprecedented step of re-releasing a semillon that has been lying in their cellar for the past 26 years.

And what’s more, when it was released it has already been held in the cellar for five years to allow the wine to take on some aged complexity.

So, if you’ve done your maths … yes, it’s a new release that’s 31 years old, a 1986 vintage Elizabeth semillon.

Oh, and if that’s not enough, it would have sold for the princely sum of “seven or eight dollars” at the time.

If ever anyone needed proof about the amazing aging potential of Hunter semillon, the defence rests.

There may have been older releases of white wine somewhere in the world at some stage, but probably not. A 31-year-old new release is uncharted territory.

The release actually came about by accident.

“We are in the process of moving to a new storage facility, and we needed to clear some space,” Mt Pleasant cellar door manager Tristan Jones explained.

“We found these old cases and thought we’d better give them a try.”

What they found amazed them.

The wines were, in general terms, pristine.

“They amazingly good,” Mr Jones said. “They have all the honeyed, toasty complexity in the world, but there’s still some citrus freshness.”

Winemaker Phil Ryan, now retired, is not surprised his ‘86 Elizabeth is still going strong. In fact he says the $49 asking price is “a steal”.

“A great vintage,” he recalled. “That wine won a stack of gold medals and trophies. They were under cork, of course, and that could be the one limiting factor.”

He can’t recall another winery anywhere releasing a 31-year-old white wine. 

And if this is so good, what other Mt Pleasant semillons can he recommend?

“In more recent times the 2007, 2009 and 2011 vintages were beauties. The Lovedales are superb.”