I’ve been a fan of Yalumba and what Robert Hill Smith and his brother Sam have done in preserving the family ownership of a significant wine company for all of my time in the industry. Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery, and this statement rings truer with each passing year, as more and more wine businesses disappear or are swallowed up by the multi-national corporates. Not only have the Hill Smiths preserved this status that honours tradition, but they have become industry leaders in grapegrowing and wine innovation. Their nursery has introduced and is continuing to highlight new and exciting grape varieties that will become more prominent in the future. The Yalumba wines were amongst the first to adopt a fresher, more accessible and elegant style, and the wines continue to show this, while others are now catching up. And recently, the Hill Smiths have begun a programme of purchasing vineyards and land in the Barossa to protect the resource of fruit supply from encroaching urban sprawl.
It’s been a couple of years since Jane Ferrari visited Wellington, and more than that since I last caught up with her, that being in my wine retailing days. She’s one of the wine world’s great personalities and a wonderful ambassador for good wine, good living and fun, but above all, a superb educator for the Yalumba winery. Her style of presentation is fast and packed full of information, and her surname is thus apt in many ways. On this trip, Jane was on a whirlwind tour of New Zealand to remind trade and consumers of what has been achieved in the Barossa and with Yalumba’s wines, and what is in the works.
Jane Ferrari, Yalumba Winemaker, Communications
with 2010 ‘The Signature’
Jane Ferrari, Yalumba Winemaker, Communications
with 2010 ‘The Signature’
The Yalumba ‘Signature’ Cabernet/Shiraz
Part of Jane’s mission is to introduce the new ‘Signature’ wine, ostensibly Yalumba’s flagship red, as it is the best Barossa-sourced Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blended wine possible, and represents the heart of Yalumba. There are, of course other limited release bottlings, more expensive and more individual, such as the iconic ‘Octavius’, but the ‘Signature; is the wine that is most traditional and more readily available. Each release honours a person who has made a most significant contribution towards Yalumba, and the back label carries that person’s signature and tells their story. Last year, the 2009 vintage had Clive Weston, head of Negociants N.Z. Ltd as the signatory, Clive being the first non-Australian resident being honoured. (Click here to read my report.) For the 2010 vintage, the signatory is Jane Ferrari, Yalumba’s communications winemaker and ambassador.
I’ve tasted and followed ‘Signature’ wines back to the late 1960s (the first made being the 1962), and they have figured in my cellar as wines with a special and personal meaning to me. However, the 2010 is particularly noteworthy, as it honours someone I’ve come to know well, having worked with her for many years. And the 2010 vintage in the Barossa was an outstanding one, so the wine will have the extra qualities that will lift it just that little bit further. I’ll be sourcing some for home use for sure. In talking about this wine, Jane is somewhat understandably reticent, as it’s not in her nature to put herself on a pedestal, but one can sense her pride and pleasure. The tribute is well-deserved, Jane, so just suck it up! www.yalumba.com
The Yalumba Lunch at the Wholesale Boot Company (W.B.C.)
Wellington was Jane’s last port of call on this New Zealand trip, and I attended the tasting and luncheon at W.B.C., the Wellington Boot Company. Here, I offer my brief impressions of the wines on offer before the lunch, and on the five wines served during the lunch.
Two white wines first, exploring the new and emerging varietal scene.
Yalumba ‘Y Series’ South Australia Vermentino 2011
Bright straw-yellow with some green hues still. Fresh and steely on the nose, with more lime fruit rather than the exotics I expect with the variety. Good mineral aromas, and some savoury secondary notes. Light-bodied, crisp, lean, quite taut, the flavours light and soft, and with minerally acidity. Limes and secondary notes now. Renmark fruit, 11.5% alc. 16.0+/20 RRP $17.99
Yalumba Eden Valley Roussanne 2012
Straw-yellow with green hues, showing lovely fragrance on nose, with florals, steel and stonefruits, very bright, aromatic and lifted, fresh as can be. Dry and tightly bound on palate, with stonefruits and floral fruits, on a tight, concentrated core, subtly textured with line and tension, leading to an austere, long finish. This will keep. Indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% and aged 11 months in barrel with batonnage. 18.0-/20 RRP $26.99
Three Shiraz-influenced wines next.
Yalumba ‘The Guardian’ Eden Valley Shiraz/Viognier 2010
Deep ruby-red colour. Quite light on bouquet, easy and accessible, but not really forthcoming, peppery and with dark red floral lift. A more slender offering, quite commercial and easy in accessibility, supple and juicy, still fresh and vibrant. Lighter and friendly, for now. Co-fermentation to 13.5% alc. 16.5/20 $25.99
Yalumba ‘Y Series’ South Australia Shiraz/Viognier 2012
Deep ruby-red with youthful purple hues. Deep dark red berry fruits, the aromatics bright and lifted by Viognier florals, and good emerging spice notes. Plenty of ripeness on palate, sweet and truly vinous with dark berry fruits and plums, spices and pepper, then the fragrant aromatics and aromatics kick in. Lovely suppleness on palate, with enough concentration and modest extraction, and floral flourish on the finish. This could keep 3+ years. 13.5% alc. 18.0/20 RRP $26.99
Yalumba ‘The Strapper’ Barossa Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro 2012
Ruby-red colour with some garnet hues, a little less deep. On nose, very soft with its fragrance, savoury strawberries and raspberries, very Grenache in expression. This is a juicy, plush and very fruity offering, with sweet and savoury raspberry fruit, the palate flowing with energy, enlivened by the fresh acidity. Supple and the extraction quite modest. Very approachable and lighter. 40% Grenache, 35% Shiraz and 25% Mataro, fermented to 13.5% alc. the wine aged 9 months in American, French and Hungarian oak hogsheads, 15% new. 17.0+/20 RRP $26.99
Then three straight varietal wines, two Shiraz and one Cabernet Sauvignon.
Yalumba ‘Galway Vintage’ Barossa Shiraz 2012
Dark ruby-red colour. An elegantly proportioned and tightly bound wine with peppery fruit, and fresh herbal nuances for freshness and modern style. Peppery fruit is the feature on palate, with good acid lift and vitality. The tannins are supple, but structure is a significant component, the textures and acidity carrying the wine. Drink this classical and traditional food-friendly style over the next 5 years. 13.5% alc. 17.5-/20 RRP $20.99
Yalumba ‘Patchwork’ Barossa Shiraz 2011
Ruby-red colour with some garnet hues. A combination of fresh and primary red berry and peppery fruit aromas and warming spice layers. This retains elegance on bouquet. Elegantly sized and structured, the depth of fruit is positive. Warm, ripe berry fruit and spices, lovely warm detail, and well-supported by supple tannin structure and following a soft, rounded core. Especially complete for a 2011. Drink over the next 4-5+ years. From vines up to 35 y.o., fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in American oak hogsheads, 14% new and French barriques, 9% new. 17.5+/20 RRP $26.99
Yalumba ‘The Cigar’ Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Dark, deep, ruby-red colour, this is textbook in blackcurrant Cabernet Sauvignon fruit, quite linear and fresh with intense blackcurrant leaf notes, youthful and primary. Not the dimension or detail to take it a level up. Firm and driven on palate with a core with good line, the suppleness a feature. Blackcurrants, cassis and hints of mintiness, quite pure in expression, the wine showing clarity. Lovely background oak nuances. A classical example, drinking over the next 5-6 years. Fruit from ‘The Menzies’ vineyard, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 16 months in French oak, 25% new. 17.5+/20 RRP $31.99
The Lunch and Wines
Two Viogniers served with the starter of Baked seafood fragrant Thai glass noodles.
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2012
Full, even straw-yellow colour with slight green. This abounds with volume of exotic apricot fruit, with green stonefruit nuances , spices, honey, giving way to ripe citrus. On palate full and up-front, with a tight and firm core of ripe apricots, softened by honey notes, florals, the wine opening up and becoming sweet, lush and mouthfilling. Lovely unctuous textures balanced with good acid levels. This is textbook Viognier. Drinking now and over 3 years. Indigenous yeast fermented with 60% in barrel to 14.0% alc. and 2 g/L RS, the wine aged 10 months in French oak with batonnage. 18.5/20 RRP $29.99
Yalumba ‘The Virgilius’ Eden Valley Viognier 2010
8 barrels made. Very pale straw colour, lighter, with green hues. The nose is very tight and concentrated, quite tightly bound and restrained initially. Shy and more ginger then florals and apricot kernels, infused with minerals. Plenty of detail and intensity, growing in presence with aeration. The palate has tightness, intensity and linearity, with textural qualities as the focus. Clear-cut ginger, then exotic fruits and minerals. This flows following a firm, crisp line. Dry mouthfeel, carrying to a sustained finish. Quite European in expression today. One to keep and drink over 5+ years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP and indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 11 months in French oak with batonnage. 18.5+/20 RRP $54.99
Two Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines served with the main of Char grilled beef steak, tempura oyster, swede.
Yalumba ‘The Scribbler’ Barossa Cabernet/Shiraz 2010
Dark, deep ruby-red colour, still youthfully purple in hue, near impenetrable. Elegant on bouquet with beautifully ripe and aromatic fruit aromas, quite restrained on this showing, with dark red berry fruits alongside pepper, plums and spices, quite fruit-driven, with subtle oaking. Gentle, mellow, supple and balanced on palate, the mouthfeel speaking accessibility and light, smooth tannin extraction. Fades a little on finish. On this showing somewhat disappointing? 13.5% alc. 17.0+/20 RRP $25.99
Yalumba ‘The Menzies’ Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Very dark, deep, purple-hued ruby-red colour. The bouquet is firm and tightly concentrated with a substantially packed and dense amalgam of ripe blackcurrant fruit with cassis liqueur, spicy mint and fresh dark herbs and subtle lifted oak. Elegantly proportioned and with real depth and concentration, ripe and sweet blackcurrant fruits are the focus. Lovely ripe acidity and ripe tannins provide vitality, drive and substantial textures. Firm flowing with drive, line and length. The first of ‘The Menzies’ to show the full potential of the vineyard, says Jane Ferrari. Fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 18 months in mainly French oak, 49% new. 18.5+/20 RRP $52.99
As a finale, a Selection of local and imported cheeses with matching accompaniments.
Yalumba ‘The Signature’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2010
A blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% Shiraz, 91% from the Barossa Floor and 9% from Eden Valley, approx. 4,000 cases made, with 300 for the N.Z. market. Black-purple red colour with depth and near impenetrable, but lighter on rim. The bouquet impresses with its finesse, refinement and elegance. Beautifully ripened cassis, raspberry, plum and spices, lifted with fragrant new oak. Sheer balance, and seamless integration, exuding opulence and richness with aeration. The palate reiterates the nose, with its seamless interwoven fruit and oak. Lovely sweet ripeness, with layers of spice and oak detail that emerge as ethereal perfumes. A very fine and concentrated core tells of the serious extraction and depth. Decadent but refined. This will keep a decade by way of its balance. 19.5-/20 RRP $55.95