St Florence, Wildflower Brewing and Blending’s wine grape-laced annual release, has returned for 2019. First brewed in 2017 with sauvignon grapes, Florence has become founder Topher Boehm’s annual flirtation with oenology that, let’s face it, barely remains hidden at the best of times.
Like last year, Wildflower has gone for another grape double feature. This time we have black muscat from Thornbrook Orchard in Orange and semillon from Tyrrell’s Estate in Pokolbin. Both of these beers were made by allowing the whole bunches of grapes to ferment with the yeast naturally found on their skins. After three weeks, the fruits were blended with older barrels of Gold and left to do their thing before being bottled conditioned for a further couple of months.
Almost all Australian black muscat grapes are grown for eating, rather than bottling. However, this beer provides a pretty good case for their greater use in the zymurgical dark arts. The Black Muscat version of Florence pours a vibrant red with a straight up aroma of roses and what can only be described as Wildfloweryness. With a pH of 3.5 somehow this beer masks its tartness compared to others of its ilk. As it warms, the rosewater / Turkish delight becomes more earthy and leaves you with a slight astringency.
Hunter Valley semillon lays claim to being one of the truly unique Australian wine varieties, and the Tyrrell family of winemakers are arguably one of the finest producers of such wines. Being able to personally harvest some Tyrrell semillon for your beer is like having Chris Hemsworth pop round to spot you on the bench press. You’re doing all the work but, holy shit, it’s Chris fucking Hemsworth!
The Semillon Florence is up there with the best of the Wildflower fruit releases in recent memory. Some of the parts that make the Gold an excellent beer are reflected in the characteristics of the semillon. The lemon peel acidity and apple/pear brightness make way for a slightly more complex honey palate.
In the tasting notes, Topher’s written that “the ability to see both the beer and wine separately but also coherently on the palate is its strength.” And it’s pretty hard to argue with that.
- Australian Wild Ales with grapes