Gems in My Glass . . . July 2015

Australia, Gems in MY Glass . . .

Stars Aligned in the Barossa Valley, Australia – Part 3

Yalumba Family Vineyards has been in the Smith family for five generations; their first vines were planted over 165 years ago in 1849.  Yalumba means “all the land around”, and an enchanting land it is.  History shows colorfully at the property upon which sits a stately historic home, the warm and inviting tasting room, and the fully equipped winemaking facility.  Kevin Glastonbury, winemaker at Yalumba for the past 15+ years, provided us with an extensive tour and tasting.  We enjoyed sampling wines from multiple vintages, which offered an opportunity to gain insight from various harvests and a glimpse of their ageworthiness.  My favorites include:

Yalumba 2013 Roussanne; Eden Valley, Australia:  White flowers on the nose make way for a juicy fruit-packed mouthful of stone fruit, fresh apples, lemon-lime juice, shades of herbs and a pretty sweep of minerality.  Energetic and streamlined with bright acidity carrying the succulent fruit to a vibrant, clean aftertaste.  SRP:  $24

Yalumba 2013 Viognier; Eden Valley, Australia:  Aromas of stone fruit really get the juices flowing.  This phenolic driven Viognier easily wins you over, as fresh apricot and ripe peach notes spill onto the palate.  Round and mouth coating with a smooth texture and pretty balance, the wine finishes with a pop of peach schnapps.  SRP:  $24

Yalumba 2008 “The Tri-Centenary” Grenache; Barossa Valley, Australia:  Here is a deeply fruited, cohesive wine from the engaging bouquet to the palate pleasing flavors.  Raspberries, strawberries and red cherries link delightfully with savory spice accents.  Hints of vanilla and caramel join in on the back of the palate, and the nicely integrated oak peaks through on the satisfying aftertaste.   SRP:  $60

Yalumba 2009 Steeple Vineyard Shiraz; Barossa Valley, Australia:  From a well-developed vineyard dating back to 1919 comes this lush Shiraz.  Savory aromas join blackberry, boysenberry, dark chocolate shavings, spice and a touch of fresh mint cascading onto the palate.  The rich fruit is offset by lively acidity.  This Shiraz is completely engaging as it picks up steam and finishes with pizazz.  SRP:  $60

Yalumba 2010 Paradox Shiraz; Barossa Valley, Australia:  Tightly wound, decant this beauty for full enjoyment.    Patience is rewarded, as aeration reveals a wonderfully complex wine.  Concentrated black plum and cassis at the core interlace with underbrush, fresh earth elements, and sweet oak spice framed by firmly structured tannins.  Remarkable purity through the persistent finish.  SRP:  $43

Yalumba 2011 Cabernet/Shiraz FDR (Fine Dry Red); Barossa Valley, Australia:  Intense yet pleasing and approachable now, this wine is oh so easy to quaff.  Layers of cassis, spiced black plum compote, wild berries and herb-dusted meat weave in harmony as the backbone of tannins and vibrant acids provide splendid framework.  This vintage may have been a challenge, but you’d not deduce that after tasting this savory, well put together wine.   SRP:  $43

Yalumba 2012 “The Signature” Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz; Barossa Valley, Australia:  In the glass you’ll find a classic example of just how well Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz can play together, wow.  Precise and elegant, the alluring aromas just begin the irresistible attraction.  Multilayered and captivating, black cherries, cassis, black plums, eucalyptus, black peppercorns and crushed herbs unwind with exceptional depth and complexity on the palate.  The finish explodes with brilliance.  $60

Yalumba 2009 “The Octavius” Old Vine Shiraz; Barossa Valley, Australia:  Here is a powerhouse of a wine that speaks confidently of its terroir.  Expressive up front with winning aromas of dark fruit and a persuasive entry, the wine builds provocatively on the palate.  A multifaceted, intensely built Shiraz with black plum and boysenberry at the core harmonizing with accents of spice encrusted roasted meat, eucalyptus, well integrate oak and a hint of mint lingering through the long finish. I would have no qualms about cellaring this Shiraz for a decade or more.  SRP:  $100

Yalumba is another Barossa property I highly recommend for a visit; there is plenty to explore here.  Until then, check out their website at www.yalumba.com.  The beauty and history of the Barossa Valley with all its charm, delicious sips and bites, and engaging personalities is guaranteed to please; certainly a region to add to your bucket list!

Gems in My Glass . . . June 2015

Australia, Tasting Notes

Stars Aligned in the Barossa Valley, Australia – Part 2

Anyone who has imbibed Shiraz from Australia is likely well attuned to Penfolds.  This winery was established in 1844 and is going strong more than 170 years later.  The meandering drive to their property in the Barossa Valley was delightful.  After a warm welcome by Matt Woo (responsible for red table wines and Penfolds fortified collection), we relaxed comfortably around a private table to engage in a lively discussion and tasting.  Matt grew up in New South Wales in a family passionate about food and wine.  He earned a Wine Science Bachelor Degree, and is dedicated to continuing the long tradition of Penfolds wines for years to come.  There is plenty of goodness to shout about here, so without further delay, let’s dive right into the wines:

Penfolds Vineyards 2014 Bin 51 Riesling; Eden Valley, Australia:  Stony minerality permeates the nose and palate with this intense, mineral driven Riesling.  Spot on varietally correct, this wine comes from a vineyard planted in the 60’s in the Eden Valley, a richer soil than what is typical in the Barossa, Matt explains.  The entry is eye opening with its vibrancy.  The stream of minerality remains constant, with flavors of white peach and citrus peel at the core, elevated by a steadfast level of acidity.  SRP:  $30

Penfolds Vineyards 2013 Reserve Bin A Chardonnay; Adelaide Hills, Australia:  This whole bunch pressed Chardonnay is tightly wound with impressive complexity.  Aged 9 months in 40% new and 60% one year seasoned French oak barriques with every new and seasoned French oak barrique its own unique 225-litre ferment, the quality of the oak program is clear. Layered and elegant as it flows from the glass, I appreciate the Asian pear, toasted oak undertones, hints of lemon verbena, a suggestion of butterscotch and the solid thread of minerality gracing the palate.   Dynamic, well-structured and perfectly balanced through the polished finish; without question an ageworthy Chardonnay.   SRP:  $100

Penfolds Vineyards 2013 Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay; Tasmania, Adelaide Hills, Victoria, Australia:  This Chard opens with enticing tropical aromas.  The palate shows off guava, pineapple, citrus and exotic spices that are spun together like an intricate, handwoven fabric.  The mouthfeel is divine, and the wine remains rich yet uplifted with vibrant acidity through the tasty, lasting finish.   SRP:  ~$50

Penfolds Vineyards 2011 Bin 28 Kalimna Vineyard Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia:  Aromatic flowers on the nose linger as this red fruited wine hits your lips.  Raspberry, red cherry licorice whips and pomegranate juice flavors swirl on the palate with pretty herbal accents.  The tannins are velvety smooth; a striking Shiraz from the challenging 2011 vintage.  SRP:  $40

Penfolds Vineyards 2012 Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz; Barossa Valley, Australia:  The exquisite aromatics exude the wow factor, and it doesn’t stop there. This wine is multilayered in the mouth, where bright red and black berry fruits, spiced meat and minty accents interlace with style, beautiful richness, and purity.  Complex and deep with silky tannins; a magnificently crafted wine.  SRP:  $80

Penfolds Vineyards 2012 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon; a multi-district blend, including fruit from Bordertown, Padthaway, Coonawarra, Robe, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Barossa Valley, Wrattonbully and Margaret River, Australia:   Black licorice drops and wild blackberries on the nose remain focused on the palate, with layers of sweet tobacco spice, eucalyptus, cassis, black plums and well integrated oak adding further dimension.  Firm tannins provide a solid backbone for this noteworthy Cabernet.  SRP:  $80

Penfolds Vineyards 2012 Magill Estate Shiraz; Adelaide, Australia:  This elegant single vineyard Shiraz enthralls the nose, delivering scents of cured meats and wild berries.  Unraveling on the palate are focused flavors of raspberries, red plums, cola, savory spice and tinges of earthiness wrapped around smooth, refined tannins.  Aging 15 months in 65% new French oak, 30% new and 5% seasoned American oak contributes spicy vanilla notes that linger on the persistent finish; a focused and delicious wine.   SRP:  $130

Penfolds Vineyards 2012 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon; Barossa Valley, Padthaway, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Adelaide Hills, Australia:  Black currant and spice rise from the glass of this American oak aged Cab Sauvignon.  Complex and deliciously mouth filling as distinct layers of blackberry, cassis, vanilla bean, caramelized sugar and plums meld with exotic Asian spices delighting the senses.  Marvelously cohesive, and the precise balance of fruit, acids and firm tannins promises many additional years of enjoyment.  SRP:  $350

Penfolds Vineyards 2010 Grange; Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Magill Estate, Australia:  Crafted every year since 1951, Grange is highly acclaimed around the globe, and deservedly so.  Penfolds again knocked it out of the park with this intensely weighted, extraordinary 2010 vintage.  Perfumed floral and dark fruit aromas could not be more enticing.  Tightly wound and complex, this classy wine exhibits well defined tiers of raspberries, purple plums, black licorice, olives, hints of smoke and eucalyptus, and fresh baked pastry flowing across the palate around a solid backbone of tannins.  Finishes deep, dark and incredibly long; unquestionably ageworthy with decades of life ahead.  SRP:  $785

Penfolds Vineyards Great Grandfather Rare Tawny:   One to linger over in front of a roaring fireplace.  You can’t go wrong with this expressive Tawny, sourced from the Grandfather Solera (average age above 20 years).   Scents of caramelized nuts and fig jam on the nose prepare the way for the rich palate of chewy caramel, roasted figs, orange peel and almond toffee.  Made for 75 vintages, this wine is a longtime favorite of many; simply heavenly.   SRP:  $350

Decades ago I tasted my first Penfolds wine, and a visit to the Barossa Valley has been on my bucket list for years.  It was well worth the wait, I highly recommend it!  Meanwhile, you can visit their website at www.penfolds.com for additional info about their history, the property, and their wines.