Continuing on with my tasting with the lovely and charming Jane Ferrari of Yalumba Winery, here are some more notes.
First, a few Yalumba facts a they are a fantastic winery with a long history.
– Founded in 1849 and still family-owned, Yalumba is one of the largest and oldest family-run winery in the country.
– Yalumba is the only winery in Australia that owns and operates its own cooperage, so they have full control over the barrels for their wines. One wine, The Octavius, owns it's name to the 90-litre octave barrels used specifically for aging the old vine Shiraz.
– Yalumba operates as a sustainable facility and have not used pesticides in the vineyards for over 20 years.
Now onto the wines…
First, the Y series, which are what you may call Yalumba's "entry level" wines. Around $10-$12, the Y series are mostly single-varietal wines (save the Shiraz-Viognier) that are great value representations of specific grapes. This new vintage has some spiffy new labels, with each variety sporting a different icon that reflects Yalumba in some fashion. We tasted the Viognier, whose label depicts vine cuttings. This wine was deliciously crisp, not as unctuous as much Viognier. Some peach and apricot come through on the aroma and palate, with a very bright finish. Lighter bodied for Viognier, but a good example and a great value. The Shiraz-Viognier was similar – straight-forward wine with bright berry fruits and black pepper spice – a great burger wine! This bottles sports a horse on the label. Though I did not taste the recent vintage, Y series varieties that I typically enjoy include the Unwooded Chardonnay, the Riesling and the Sangiovese Rose (a must try).
Next up, the Eden Valley Viognier
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier – I've always enjoyed this wine, even though I had to be in a full-bodied white mode. But it is even better this year. Jane telle me that may be because it’s no longer a single vineyard wine – they have started to blend in some other Eden Valley vineyards to boost acid and make it brighter. Well, it definitely worked, as this wine was bright and fresh, but unctuous and viscous like a good Viognier should be – apricot, peach, floral, all the key components were there, with a fantastically creamy mouthfeel balanced by bright acid and a lingering finish. While we have older vintages in stock right now, stay tuned for the '09 when it comes in.
Viognier started here at Yalumba in the early 1980s, when a love for Condrieu prompted the winemaker to plant some of this often finnicky grape. As Jane put it, they made Viogner for 10 years, and did it poorly. After nearly throwing in the towel, the team started experimenting with longer hang time, whole brunch pressing and wild fermentation. It worked. There are now 13 clones of Viognier, some of which came from Guigal's property in Condrieu and the winemaking team pretty much lets Viognier be Viognier, meaning it intervenes in the process as little as possible. It's a grape that they can now say they do quite well.
A red worth trying – the Yalumba Scribbler
Ever had the Yalumba Signature? Fantastic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz and a delicious old-world style wine. Unfortunately did not get to taste this wine, but what I tasted with Jane was a new release called The Scribbler, which is a younger sibling to the Signature, made of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (68%) and the remainder Shiraz. The names are fairly indicative of the tastes – the Signature is elegant, refined and seamless, while the Scribbler is a bit more straightforward, drink-it-now kind of style. Still, it's good stuff, with blackberry and black currant, a slight herbal undertone and balanced acid and tannins.
So that's the dig on my lunch and tasting with Jane & Yalumba. They are one of those "big" companies that still has roots to the wines, and that is something to admire. You can also follow Jane & her travels at her Yalumba Stories blog.