Beau­ti­ful col­li­sion

Yalumba’s lat­est is surely des­tined for ‘iconic’ sta­tus, says John Saker.

The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Drinks -

Re­cent trans-tas­man schisms have not had any im­pact on my fond­ness for Aussie wine. I have too many dear, for­ma­tive mem­o­ries for that. And I’ve just tasted a red from Oz that I couldn’t de­scribe as any­thing but truly bonza.

Un­like some Aussie brands, Yalumba con­tin­ues to main­tain a strong pres­ence on our wine shelves. No mys­tery why. The Barossa-based win­ery does so many things ex­traor­di­nar­ily well.

In many ways, Yalumba is the Aus­tralian Villa Maria. It’s large, yet fam­ily-owned, with the pro­pri­etors fully en­gaged in run­ning the show. It is prin­ci­pled, and cares deeply about qual­ity and value for money across the range. It’s not scared to in­no­vate and go its own way. And it has great peo­ple in key po­si­tions.

But one thing Yalumba had not done dur­ing its 168-year his­tory was pull out all stops and cre­ate a wine to sit at the up­per end of the top end – one that in time may get to be de­scribed as ‘‘iconic’’. Not un­til now, any­way.

The re­cent re­lease of the Yalumba The Ca­ley Caber­net & Shi­raz 2012 gives the com­pany what its chair­man Robert Hill Smith hopes will be ‘‘a wine to take to the world’’.

There’s a long his­tory in Oz of blend­ing shi­raz and caber­net, a com­bi­na­tion the Aus­tralians call ‘‘claret’’. There was no pre-de­ter­mi­na­tion to recre­ate this blend for The Ca­ley. While some very im­pres­sive fruit was har­vested in 2012 by Yalumba in the Barossa (shi­raz) and Coon­awarra (caber­net sauvi­gnon), it was only when the team be­gan look­ing at var­i­ous blend­ing op­tions that ex­cite­ment lev­els rose. Hill Smith says ‘‘the wine came to us’’.

It’s a spe­cial wine. Not im­pos­ing, as many Aus­tralian premium re­leases are, but beau­ti­ful. The fruit is dark and rich, yet re­strained. The struc­ture is so fine there’s an im­pres­sion of fragility; it floats, rather than marches, across your palate. There’s an en­dear­ing sweet­ness, spice and tar­ri­ness, with caber­net char­ac­ters be­com­ing more vo­cif­er­ous on the lengthy fin­ish.

A bot­tle will set you back $395 (that in­cludes a pre­sen­ta­tion box and a de­light­ful lit­tle book), so by any mea­sure, it’s a spe­cial oc­ca­sion wine.

Of the more af­ford­able cur­rent Yalumba re­leases, I can rec­om­mend the fol­low­ing: • Yalumba The Strap­per Gre­nache Shi­raz Mataro 2013, $24. The essence of the Barossa – a deft GSM blend where heady ripe sweet­ness and more stand­off­ish earthy savoury char­ac­ters are in step. • Yalumba The Y Se­ries Caber­net Sauvi­gnon 2015, $15. Black­cur­rant, a touch of leafi­ness, gen­uine length – you get some smart caber­net here for a very mod­est out­lay. One of the best buys around.

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