Thomas Wines

A Hunter Valley Superstar

Born and bred in McLaren Vale, Andrew ‘Thommo’ Thomas reckoned he had it all figured out. He would graduate from Roseworthy and pursue a career in South Australia, following in the footsteps of his father, Wayne Thomas. And then fate stepped in. Between semesters, Thomas took on a vintage at Tyrrells. Here he met and worked under larger-than-life Murray Tyrrell and his experience in the Hunter would imprint on Thomas for life.

Thomas’ stage impressed the Tyrrell family enough for him to be offered a number-one draft pick straight out of college: assistant winemaker at Tyrrells. Despite reservations about leaving his base, Thomas knew he could not look this gift horse in the mouth and besides, McLaren Vale wasn’t going anywhere. He would return home as a more knowledgeable and experienced winemaker. That was 35 years ago.

Thomas couldn’t have asked for a better start to his career. The 13 years he spent at Tyrrell’s instilled a passion for place that remains to this day; the Hunter’s unique setting, its enigmatic signature white, Semillon, and the close-knit camaraderie between all who live and work there. Thomas had found his tribe. “The place just got under my skin,” he admits.

A decade into his tenure with the Tyrrells, Thomas felt that niggling desire to make wines of his own, and despite a few choice words from Murray Tyrrell on the subject, the family rubber-stamped his ambitions—providing it didn’t impact on his day job. In 1997, Thomas released his first wine.

“Hunter Valley semillon is one of Australia’s few unique wines, and Thomas’ Braemore is, simply, one of the best.” Huon Hooke, The Real Review

Thomas left Tyrrells in 1999 to set up shop on Pokolbin’s Mistletoe Lane. Rather than looking to please every taste, Thomas chose to nail his colours to the Hunter’s two signature grape varieties, Semillon and Shiraz. He started with just two wines (a red and a white) but soon began to explore and champion the stylistic diversity that exists within his region. Today, the range can run to as many as eight or nine Semillons and nine or ten Shiraz bottlings in a single vintage, encompassing each of the Valley’s sub-regions: Pokolbin, Lovedale, Belford, Broke/Fordwich and Mount View.

Thomas’ portfolio is a many-splendored thing, yet there is one vineyard that has become synonymous with this gifted producer: Braemore. Located in the heart of Hunter Semillon’s dress circle on the free-draining sandy flats of Pokolbin, Braemore is something of consecrated ground for fans of the variety and region. Having worked with Braemore fruit from his very first vintage (and every year since), when the opportunity to purchase the vineyard arose in 2017, Thomas jumped at the chance. And while today the vineyard contributes to several Thomas Wines blends, it is the two wonderful single-vineyard wines—the Braemore Semillon and Cellar Reserve Semillon (released at six years old)—that shine the brightest.

Now in its 25th year—and with his eldest son Dan blooded into the business—Thomas Wines’ Semillon bottlings have become the embodiment of the lithe, pure, star-bright style that made the region so famous. They are digestible wines, screaming out for a plate of “anything you think about putting a squeeze of lemon over”, offers Thomas (although we wonder if this phrase originated from Andrew’s partner, the talented Sommelier, Kim Bickley). Light in alcohol but in no way austere or lacking texture or personality, these are unique and delicious wines.

What is perhaps less well known, outside of NSW at least, is the quality of this producer’s Shiraz. Indeed, Thomas’ mastery of both styles has seen him voted by his peers as Hunter Valley Winemaker of the year in 2008, 2014 and again in 2023.

The Range

Thomas Wines Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon 2017
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Thomas Wines Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon 2017

Knowing that his flagship Braemore Semillon gained such beauty and complexity with a few years in the bottle, Thomas created the Cellar Release program in 2001. Thommo siphons off a small selection each year, holding it back for six years in a bottle before release. He explains that his Braemore Semillon “is like a spring that slowly unwinds, over the years revealing lovely light toast and hay characters. The best vintages continue that trajectory for fifteen years and more. After six years the wine is hitting the first stage of development, it’s a magical transformation.” The Braemore Vineyard, planted in 1969, is situated on the sandy alluvial flats of Hermitage Road, Pokolbin. Once an ancient sea floor, the deep, sandy loam soils are free-draining, allowing deep root penetration, which is perfect for Semillon. The vineyard is universally considered to produce some of the finest examples of classic Hunter Valley Semillon and is particularly famed for producing wines of remarkable longevity.It’s love at first sniff. Savoury to start, it unfolds slowly to reveal its slightly toasty, citrussy, salty, minerally and smoky personality. The palate is wonderfully textured, sculpted by rounded acidity and well-integrated phenolics before slowly tapering to a powerful and poised close. Though at the start of its journey, it’s on the money right now, and it clearly has the legs to go another ten or so years if you can find the patience.

“Light quartz green, due for release September 2023. A seriously delicious semillon, makrut lime to the fore, then polished acidity, balance, line, length and purity.”
97 points, James Halliday, Wine Companion
Thomas Wines Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon 2017
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Thomas Wines Two of a Kind Shiraz 2022
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Thomas Wines Two of a Kind Shiraz 2022

Thomas's ‘Two of a Kind’ wines are a tribute to the multi-regional blends that created some of Australia’s best wines in the 1950s and '60s. The wines are based on the Hunter Valley’s signature varieties of Semillon and Shiraz, and blended with the varieties that are well suited to other South Australian regions, providing an interesting twist and extra dimension to these unique styles. The Hunter component (51%) is sourced from the Fordwich Hill vineyard. The McLaren Vale component (49%) grew on Barry Clarke’s vineyard in the Blewitt Springs subregion. The fruit from each source fermented separately in stainless steel and the wines were blended soon after pressing. This 2022 Two of a Kind Shiraz matured for 16 months in 300-litre French hogsheads.

“A tried and true blend of 51/49% Hunter Valley/McLaren Vale fruit, separately fermented but blended shortly thereafter, then spending time in premium quality oak for almost two years. Only just medium bodied, but has plenty happening, the palate lengthened by fine but persistent savoury tannins.”
93 points, James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion
Thomas Wines Two of a Kind Shiraz 2022
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Thomas Wines Synergy Shiraz 2022
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Thomas Wines Synergy Shiraz 2022

A blend of Shiraz from the Fordwich Hill, Pokolbin Estate (Kiss and Dam Blocks), Sweetwater Ridge, Cote D'or and Black Cluster vineyards. Each parcel was given a pre-fermentation cold maceration for 24 to 48 hours, followed by vinification in stainless steel. The parcels were then racked to barrels for malolactic conversion. The wine was raised in oak 300-litre French hogsheads for 15 months before bottling.

“Taut. Playful. Fruit-focused and bright. A wine for Friday night pasta and Sunday barbecues. Wild cherries. Classical tones.”
91 points, Toni Paterson, The Wine Companion
Thomas Wines Synergy Shiraz 2022
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Thomas Wines Synergy Semillon 2023
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Thomas Wines Synergy Semillon 2023

The Synergy Semillon is a blend of quality, old-vine Semillon sourced from throughout the Hunter Valley. For the Thomas Wines single-vineyard Semillons, the best parcels of fruit are chosen, with the balance from these great sites going into the Synergy blend. This means, in any given year, this great-value wine is crafted from seriously good raw material. The 2023 is a blend of Braemore (about 70%), with the balance from the Brycefield (in Lovedale), Fordwich Hill and OC vineyards. The fruit fermented in stainless steel. True to Thomas form, it’s another pure, precise Semillon with punchy flavours, live-wire acidity and racy energy. The price is difficult to comprehend in today’s market, but we’re not complaining!

“Citrus, cut grass and melon provide a complex web of aromas and flavours, plus the usual lance of acidity.”
91 points, James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion
Thomas Wines Synergy Semillon 2023
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Thomas Wines Braemore Semillon 2023
Thomas Wines Braemore Semillon 2023
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Thomas Wines Braemore Semillon 2023

The Braemore Vineyard, planted in 1969, is widely considered one of the best vineyards in the Valley. It is in the Hunter Semillon dress circle on the sandy alluvial flats of Hermitage Road, Pokolbin. Thomas is one of about twelve producers, including Tyrrell’s, on this narrow, two-kilometre strip of ‘Grand Cru’ Semillon soil. Once an ancient sea floor, the deep, sandy loam soils are free-draining, allowing deep root penetration, which is perfect for the variety. It’s universally accepted that the site produces some of the finest examples of classic Hunter Valley Semillon. It is particularly famed for producing wines of remarkable longevity. Andrew states, “The thing that sets Braemore apart, what gives it its longevity, is that extra level of intensity and concentration that comes from Semillon grown on this kind of soil.”The various blocks within the Braemore vineyard were hand-picked in mid-February. Each batch was meticulously hand-sorted to ensure only the very best fruit went through for whole-bunch pressing (to minimise phenolic extraction). After fermentation, the wine spent five weeks on lees before bottling. Vivid and star bright in the glass, the 2023 shimmers with citrus fruits, minerals and white flowers, underscored by a note of preserved lemon. It’s a delightful nerve ball of a wine, crackling with energy and layered with complexity before finishing with intensity and great length. It’s going to be a stunner, but there is already so much to enjoy right now.

Vivid and star bright in the glass, the 2023 shimmers with citrus fruits, minerals and white flowers, underscored by a note of preserved lemon. It’s a delightful nerve ball of a wine, crackling with energy and layered with complexity before finishing with intensity and great length. It’s going to be a stunner, but there is already so much to enjoy right now.

“Herbal lemon tea, a hint of wax, underripe melon skin, fresh chamomile, satin cool and lacy texture. There’s something minty underneath and it carries that little tightly packed flavour package that no doubt will develop into something even more beautiful in future but what a refreshing and layered drink it is in its youth.”
94+ points, Kasia Sobiesiak, The Wine Front
Thomas Wines Braemore Semillon 2023
Thomas Wines Braemore Semillon 2023
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Thomas Wines Fordwich Hill Semillon 2023
Thomas Wines Fordwich Hill Semillon 2023
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Thomas Wines Fordwich Hill Semillon 2023

This single-vineyard Semillon is drawn from the Fordwich Hill Vineyard situated on the western fringe of the lower Hunter Valley. This area experiences slightly lower annual rainfall than the rest of the region. Unusual for Thomas Semillon soils, which are generally lighter, here they are rich, red, deep and volcanic with flecks of ironstone throughout and this, coupled with the longer hangtime preferred by Thomas for this site, tends to produce a riper, more generously proportioned style of Hunter Semillon. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel and spent a few weeks on lees before being bottled. A more restrained expression than the OC, there’s a lovely red apple skin note and a slight chamomile tea sweetness lending complexity to the citrus-forward aromas. The palate is charged with a mineral depth, aligned beautifully with fresh and fleshy citrus and a lovely grapefruit pithiness. A come and get me wine.

A more restrained expression than the OC, there’s a lovely red apple skin note and a slight chamomile tea sweetness lending complexity to the citrus-forward aromas. The palate is charged with a mineral depth, aligned beautifully with fresh and fleshy citrus and a lovely grapefruit pithiness. A come and get me wine.

Thomas Wines Fordwich Hill Semillon 2023
Thomas Wines Fordwich Hill Semillon 2023
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“Winemaker Andrew Thomas is an emerging superstar of the Hunter, producing peerless Semillon and classy Shiraz.” Peter Forrestal, Qantas Magazine

“Hunter Valley semillon is one of Australia’s few unique wines, and Thomas’ Braemore is, simply, one of the best.” Huon Hooke, The Real Review

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “The quality of the wines and reputation of Andrew Thomas have never been higher.” James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion


“After 22 consecutive vintages, the impeccably crafted Thomas Braemore Semillon is one of the iconic wines of the Hunter Valley. Although delicious in its youth, age reveals the true magic of the Braemore site. It is one of Australia’s best value ‘fine wines’ and an absolute bargain in the broader wine world.” Toni Patterson MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine

Country

Australia

Primary Region

Hunter Valley, New South Wales

People

Winemaker: Andrew Thomas

Availability

National

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