Sunday, October 19, 2008

Report from ... Share Yalumba with Jane Ferrari - October 2, 2008

A meet, greet and informal tasting with Jane Ferrari, winemaker for Yalumba Winery – Australia’s oldest family owned winery, since 1849 – gave us some insight about this influential and accomplished woman: (loves baseball and George Clooney), changing attitudes within Australia's wine industry ("we're moving on towards terroir in Australia") and her no nonsense, straight talk approach ("[Viognier] is a labor of love for the boss, so we continue to make it the best that we can, and think we make some of the best."). Around the table we tried seven wines from various levels of the Yalumba line - here are my top four selections, along with some commentary I picked up along the way:

2007 Wild Ferment Chardonnay ($19.95)
"[We’re looking for] more aromatic elegance, where the wood is a platform for the fruit instead of chewing on a stave." A welcome notion from Australia. This wine exhibited smells of vanilla, butterscotch, white fruit and a bit of a smokiness; while on the palate, there was a pleasant buttery component along with the apples, spices and vanilla - a good lengthy finish ended this one off nicely

2006 Bush Vine Grenache ($20.00)
"Always the bridesmaid never the bride." Made from pre-European phylloxera vines, this wine was simply tasty and had an element of elegance to it. Described as a "heat-seeking grape” the color was light, but the flavors intense. Smells of cherry, strawberry, and spicy cinnamon. The taste was sweet red fruit and herbs ... a touch of alcohol heat (14%) which would have been smoothed out with a slight chill on the wine. Holdability 6 to 7 years.

2005 Shiraz/Viognier ($19.95)
The grapes for this wine are grown and co-fermented together … only 3-5% Viognier is used depending on the year. A nose that's got blueberry and floral as its main features; this would be considered a “mid-weight Shiraz” with a little pepper and blackberry in the mouth. Good acidity leaves a long spice-driven finish behind.

2004 Hand Picked Shiraz/Viognier ($41.95)
Same growing and fermenting as the above bottle applies, though this wine is deeper and darker - described as "a Cote-Rotie tribute wine" by the winemaker. Using the above wine as reference: there's more floral and more blueberry along with plums, mint and cherry on the nose. Complex flavors which include black cherry, coffee, violets, lavender, a bit of wood tannins and some alcohol heat - nice long tasty finish.

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