Jane Ferrari Tasting 26-9-2011 Notes

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Last night, on a damp and wet Autumn evening, we and 14 others were treated to a wonderful evening of great wines in the company of one of the most likeable and enthusiastic speakers of on Australian wine. Jane Ferrari winemaker and Travelling ambassador for Yalumba guided us through a flight of eight wines including some of Yalumba’s fine and rare wines.  Jane not only introduced us to the wines; their place and background, but also gave us ideas for delicious food combinations to try these wines out with. Anyway before i start to waffle lets look at the eight wines sampled.

1) Yalumba Organic Viognier 2010

Lifted nose of white blossoms, lemon and honeysuckle. The palate is lighter than the next two, but still luscious and silky. Try with Thai style dishes with lemongrass and chilli’s. The grapes for this wine are grown Bio-Dynamically and organically by the Barich family.

2) Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2009

It has pure aromas of apricot nectar and orange peel. The palate is long, rich and luscious, with intense stone fruit particularly apricots finishing with an aromatic citrus freshness. This wine comes from the same vineyard as the Virgilius, Yalumba’s top viognier. Would would great with slow cooked duck or lamb in Moroccan spices.

3) Yalumba ‘The Virgilius’ Viognier 2008

This wine comes from Yalumba’s top Viognier crop grown at their Virgilius vineyard in the Eden valley. the company has over 25 years experience growing this variety and that is seen clearly in this wonderful wine. The nose displays intense aromas of white peach, apricot and ginger. Ginger
spice is layered on the palate with mineral texture allure with complex apricots and white stone fruit flavours. The trademark Viognier lusciousness is also ever-present. This wine will compliment a wide range of spicy dishes from Thai food to Chinese, great with Asian style fish dishes.

4) Yalumba ‘Moppa Vineyard’ Grenache 2006

A single vineyard (only 2.2 acres) wine, and therefore a limited production. This Grenache is has a nose  of savoury and brooding fruits combined with dried herbs, flowers and spices. A big mouthful of wine, the palate shows warmth, a rich savoury black raspberry note runs through. This wine would be great with Roast Pork and all the trimmings.

5) Yalumba ‘Galway Vintage’ Shiraz 2009

For more on the history of this wine see here. Classic Barossa Shiraz aromas of liquorice all-sorts and spice. the palate is full on a packed with sweet plummy fruit fruits and ripe berries. Great with a hearty stew.

6) Yalumba ‘Hand-picked’ Shiraz+Viognier 2008

Classic Cote Rotie Style, blending a maximum of 5% Viognier in with Shiraz, this increase the aromatics, texture and colour of the wine. This Shiraz Viognier wine is full depth red in colour with purple hues, and shows violet, mocha, wild berry and dark cherry aromas.  The palate is full-bodied with beautifully defined fruit, juicy right in the middle with a long, intense and elegant palate with black espresso-like tannins to finish. Try with a char-grilled marinate steak or lamb.

7) Yalumba ‘FDR1A’ 2008

The name FDR1A stands for Fine Dry Red 1A is the shed designation in the winery for where the wine is located. A blend if the finest Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from the cooler Eden Valley area of the Barossa. Aromas of mulberry fruits, black cherry, anise, spices and cedar flavours. This is a complex and plushly textured wine, quite seamless, with long, fine grainy tannins that reveal an elegance and refinement on the finish. A perfect accompaniment to roast beef with a rich mushroom or pepper sauce.         My wine of the evening, only just!

8 ) Yalumba ‘The Signature’

First produced in 1962, the Signature is Yalumba’s top wine. Made from select parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Deep dark red in colour this wine displays aromas which are dense and curranty, yet pure and bright. The nose shows lifted florals, violets and chocolate mints. The
palate is brooding and serious with dark chocolate hazelnuts and warm generosity. The Signature finishes with long fine powdery tannins.

Yalumba – a Vintage Winery

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The Clock Tower at Yalumba

With Jane Ferrari, kindly and informative and entertaining us this evening through a section of Yalumba wines (more to follow tomorrow), we decide to give a little background on Australia’s Oldest Family Owned Winery.

Yalumba was founded in 1849 by Samuel Smith, English emigrant and brewer,  who brought his family to Australia seeking a new life. After purchasing a  30-acre parcel of land just beyond the southern-eastern boundary of Angaston, in the Eden Valley, Samuel named his  patch “Yalumba” – aboriginal for “all the land around”. Six generations and more  than 150 years later Yalumba, has grown  in size and stature, embodying all things that have made  Australian wine a success  story.

 Yalumba wines have developed a style all of  their own over the years, each wine has been influenced by a diverse range of elements. Yalumba has a Vine Nursery and  on-site cooperage, making it quite unique among Aussie wineries.  Yalumba is a place where history & tradition combine with  innovation. Robert Hill-Smith, the 5th Generation owner of Yalumba is on of the main driving force behind this combination, constantly striving for new innovation and new techniques. Yalumba have an excellent range from the affordable and consistent Y-series wines up to their fine wines like ‘The Signature’ , ‘The Virgilus’ and ‘The Octavius’.

Grenache World Tour part 4 The New World

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Oddly enough some of the world’s oldest Grenache is actually found in the ‘New World’. Australia is home to some of the most venerable Grenache vines in the world many of them well past 100 years old, most of these heritage vines are located in the Barossa, McLaren Vale and the Clare Valley. Right up until the mid to late 20th century, Grenache was Australia’s most widely planted red wine grape variety with significant plantings in the vast Riverland region where it was vital component in the fortified “port-style” wines of the early Australian industry.  But as Australian wine makers moved towards table wine and premium still wine stills good old Grenache fell from favour, being replaced with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, even its old buddy Shiraz fell victim to the trend.

But the success of Shiraz in the 1990s and early 21st centuries saw a revival of interest in Grenache with old vine plantings in South Australia being used to produce varietal Grenache as well as a “GSM”-Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre – blends, similar to those in the Rhone becoming popular. Varietal Grenache from the McLaren Vale is characterized by luscious richness and spicy notes while Barossa Valley Grenache is characterized by jammy, intense fruitiness.

Garnacha World Tour part 3

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Steep vineyards in Priorat

Welcome to Spain, where we think Garnacha (Grenache) originally came from, before it emigrated and conquered the world, much like us Irtish. There are  a load of clonal varieties of Garnacha, in Spain as you’d expect for a country that is touted as it’s home. The thin-skinned, dark-coloured Garnacha Tinta (sometimes spelled Tinto) is the most common. Another interesting variety, known as Garnacha Peluda or “Hairy Grenache” due to the soft downy texture on the underside of the vine’s leaves is also found in Spain, mostly in Priorat. Widely planted in northeastern and central Spain, Garnacha was long considered a lowly workhorse  grape, for blending like in France.

But the success in recent years of the wines of Priorat in particular but also Terra Alta and other Catalonian regions has led to a new interest in this workhorse grape. It is coming back into fashion and with a total of around 203,300 acres planted in Spain it one of the countries most planted grape varieties. Garnacha can be found widely in the wines of Rioja (Blended with Tempranillo), in the bordering Navarra region, where it accounts for over half the vines planted. It is also widely planted in central Spain’s vast tracts of vineyards. But it would appear to produce it’s best results in the Northeastern region of Catalonia, in the area known as Priorat in particular.

Ampelographers (them who study grapes and their DNA, so we don’t have to!)  believe Garnacha has had a presence in the Priorat  for several hundred years (possibly nearly 800 years).  A wave of ambitious young wine makers rediscovered the low-yield, bush-vine Garnacha planted on the llicorella based soils in Priorat. This unique combination produces dense, rich concentrated and dark-coloured wine with noticeable tannins. Traditional Priorat wine is almost black in color and require years of aging before it would be approachable to drink, like really good Bordeaux or Burgundy.  But regions such as Terra Alta near Priorat are also producing interesting Garnacha in the more modern easy-going and fruity style wines that we have become accustom to! Simple put Spanish Garnacha is a must try for anyone interested in Grenache.

Grenache World Tour part 2

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Continuing on from yesterday on our tour of Grenache’s world we head south from the Rhone Valley to the huge behemoth wine-producing areas of Languedoc and Roussillon, this area covers pretty much all of the south of France from the Pyrenees in the south-west as far as Provence in the South East. This huge tract of vineyard produces many a red wine and Grenache is one of the most dominant grape varieties used down here, along with its old buddy Syrah/Shiraz and the Roussillon favourite Carignan.  The area has around 700,000 acres under vine so you can clearly see how Grenache flys up on the most planted variety chart pretty fast as they reckon it is the most planted variety down here!

The region is currently under going a revamp of its appellations but some of the more famous appellations they use include  Cotes du Roussillon and like the Rhone the higher Cotes du Roussillon Villages, Corbières AOC, Minervois AOC, Saint-Chinian AOC, and of course the ever present Vin de Pays D’Oc. The Grenache wines of the Languedoc are as variable as the terroir and people of southern France. In General the wines of these regions tend to big and fruity more reminiscent of New World wines, especially where the influence of Australia’s ‘Flying Wine-makers’ can be felt.  Of all the french wine regions Languedoc and Roussillon is most open to new techniques and styles of wines as their appellation controlee system is still really only finding its feet.

Grenache World Tour part 1

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As i said yesterday we are going on a whirlwind world tour of Grenache this week, todays stop-over is in the Rhone Valley in France. Grenache is on of the most commonly planted grapes in the Rhone valley with a particular favour for it in the Southern Rhone. Chances are if you have enjoyed a bottle of Cotes du Rhone red of later, Grenache probably made up between 30% and 80% of the blend. It is found in all across the AOC of the Southern Rhone, Rasteau, Gigondas, Vacqueryas and most definitely in Chateaunuef-du-Pape.

In Chateaunuef-du-Pape, both Grenache Noir and Blanc are permitted in the list of 13 Grapes to be used in the blend. It is also in Chateaunuef that the most famous soils on which Grenache is grown can be found, ‘galets roules’ large pebbles of quartz and glacial deposits that have been smoothed over time. These stones absorb the sun’s heat during the day and release it slowly at night keeping the vine and grapes constantly warm.

Grenache is a grape that loves and thrives in heat, and this can be borne out in the fact that nearly 70% of the vines in Chateaunuef -du-Pape are Grenache Noir. Most of the Grenache vines are bush or goblet grown, as you can see in both pictures. The wines of Chateaunuef tend to big and full of rich warm fruit flavours.

Incidentally they also tend to have relatively high alcohol content as Grenache tends to ripen to near 14.5%-15% alchol in the Rhone. Areas like Vacqueryas and Gigondas also have similar characteristics to Chateaunuef but at a more wallet friendly price. But if you want to check out Rhone Grenache all you need look for is your basic Cotes-du-Rhone, as many are Grenache Dominated. Grenache is also used in the Rhone to produce some delightful rosé wines in areas such as Lirac and Tavel. Stay tuned in tomorrow when we will venture in to the huge vineyard known as Langudoc and Roussillon

She’s Back!!!

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Jane Ferrari will be back in town and hosting a tasting with us next Monday evening. Details of time and venue will be confirmed later. For any one who hasn’t enjoyed Jane’s company before it is an eye open. The ease with which she explains and educates about Yalumba and the Barossa in general is amazing. Spend an hour with Jane and you’ll be an expert in all things Yalumba!  So join Jane and us for an evening of great wine, good fun and a hint of education!

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