2019 St. Florence Semillon
St Florence is an Australian Wild Ale refermented with wine grapes. It is named for Topher and his wife's first daughter and released around Florence's birthday. The Saint Florence was a 7th century abbess from Cartagena, Spain.
Our first release of St Florence was in October of 2017, about a month after my daughter was born, made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes. In 2018, we made two variants of St Florence using Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Each year, this beer aims to bring to light the interaction between native wine and beer fermentations. We as a brewery are heavily influenced by the winemaking world, well the part of it that ferments with native yeasts and doesn’t use additives or excessive procedures. We are continually inspired by its producers to increase the thought and integrity in our beer. It should be no surprise that these wine-grape refermented beers are a major focus for us and provoke year-long conversations about how we tweak them at the next vintage.
In 2019, we once again made a few variants using different wine grapes.
This variant with Semillon was made by blending 4 barrels of mature, barrel aged Gold with hand harvested Semillon grapes from Tyrrell's Estate in Pokolbin NSW. On an early morning in January, we drove up to the Hunter arriving at Tyrrell's Estate around 8.30am to try and beat the 40+ degree heat predicted for the day and got to work hand harvesting beautifully ripe Semillon grapes. We finished, luckily, before it got too hot, had a nice little lunch in the shade and headed back to Sydney. We chilled the grapes overnight and the next morning transferred all of these whole bunch, hand harvested grapes into a variable capacity stainless steel vessel without destemming or crushing. We sealed the tank and allowed fermentation to naturally begin via the native yeasts on the skins of the grapes. After three weeks of sealed, carbonic maceration, we removed the juice at the bottom of the ferment and blended in 2 barrels, 1729 (11 month old Gold) and 1779 (14 month old Gold) on 6 February and allowed the fruit to macerate and referment with the beer for 4 months. On June 18, we blended in 1837 (11 month old Gold) and 1805 (16 month old Gold) for necessary structure and balance. It was packaged on 19 June and allowed to go through a tertiary fermentation for carbonation and conditioning for 11 weeks before release. At bottling it was 6.0% ABV and 1.1 P (1.004 SG).
Like all our beers, St Florence is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).