Yalumba | Tasting Review | August 2019

With a family ownership going back 170 years, Yalumba have a special place not only in the history of Australian wine, but also the world. On so many levels Yalumba have created a special regard around the world for their wines and how they run their business. And telling their story around the world over the past 20 years Jane Ferrari has a deserved reputation as one of the wine world’s great wine communicators.

So it always a treat to have Jane here to host a Yalumba tasting. Every visit she brings new stories about the wines, the people, the food, the places she has encountered during her world travels. And like all good story tellers Jane has some interesting observational twists on what she sees and experiences. This year she treated us to her “Queen of the Road” – ably assisted by the specially selected Bdoom Bdoom backing singers.

Always Jane brings the stories back to Yalumba and the wines, and as always the wines are very, very good. Is there a better representation of the great Barossa red than Signature? A true classic.

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Eden Valley Viognier 2017

Yalumba are masters of Viognier having pioneered the variety in Australia in 1980. If you have never tried Viognier, this wine is the one to convince you. It has lemony freshness, with floral notes a hint of apricot and ginger spice. On the palate it is dry with balance and restraint. It is a wine that works well with spicy foods – ginger and chilli especially.

Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier 2017

Yalumba’s top Viognier is from the same vineyard as the Samuel’s Collection but made more in the manner of a Chardonnay – hand-picked fruit, whole bunch pressed into barrel for wild-yeast fermentation on solids. The wine has white flower, stone-fruit flavours with the oak adding spice. The palate is quite rich and sauve with a hint of caramel, but there is also freshness and good acidity flowing through. Jane recommends this with dishes such as pork belly, salmon, soft-shell crab, prawns…

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Bush Vine Grenache 2018

The Barossa has been growing Grenache for 170+ Years, but it is only quite recently that this workhorse variety has come into its own. This is made in a style that is so suited to modern living. Fresh, juicy and ‘smashable’. Jane describes the flavour as raspberry and toffee apples. Light and fresh; cherry and blackberry fruits with a crunchy spice finish. You could chill this wine in warmer weather. Downright deliciously drinkable.

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Barossa Grenache / Shiraz / Mataro 2017

Grenache with Shiraz (30%) and Mataro (10%) á la Cotes du Rhone. Grenache’s sweet scented floral, cola notes are off-set with the plum, chocolate, juicy Shiraz and the twist of spicy, tannic Mataro. Medium bodied with good weight and persistence on the palate. There’s enough here to suggest this would be wonderful in a couple of years.

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Barossa Shiraz 2017

Probably one of the best loved in Yalumba’s range. Formerly known as the Patchwork, this is classic Barossa Shiraz. Plums and spice; dark chocolate, vanilla, cherry. Generous and soft with enough tannin to give structure. A very enjoyable wine that delivers on many fronts.

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Barossa Shiraz / Cabernet 2017

Yalumba have long been advocates of this notable Australian “Claret” blend. Shiraz now dominates the blend but the presence of the Cabernet adds black currant, olive flavours with a bit more on the back palate. Juicy, balanced and pleasurable.

Yalumba Tri-Centenary Grenache 2013

Hand picked from a small plot of old Bush Vines planted in 1889 in the heart of the Barossa Valley. This wine tastes like you are drinking history – savoury and brooding. Mocha, liquorice, nuts, spice, gamey and olde worldy, dark and dense.

Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

One of Coonawarra’s leading labels, the Cabernet vines are now around 35 years old. This tastes like Coonawarra Cabernet – that is cool climate in an Australian way, with cigar box, blackcurrant, olive tapenade, dried herb and a hint of mint and cedary oak. Seductive and smooth – a joyous wine that shows energy and concentration. A great vintage.

Yalumba The Signature Barossa Cabernet / Shiraz 2014

Yalumba’s most famous wine, first released in 1962 and a blend of Barossa Cabernet and Shiraz. Undoubtedly age-worthy for many more years, this also has an approachability with super-smooth chocolate-berry vanillin oak, Christmas cake fruits and spices, a hint of smokiness and a sense of solidness on the palate. This is the kind of wine you need to have on hand to serve when you want to impress and you can have the confidence it will last in a good cellar for well over a decade if you forgot about it. Stunning value for a wine of its quality.