Thursday, March 4, 2021

Day Two: McLaren Vale, part 1

 Yangarra is a very fortunate winery. It has great terroir, its winemaker, Peter Fraser, is very talented, and the owner, the Jackson Family, has very deep pockets. It is a curious ownership situation. The mothership, Kendall-Jackson, is a mass producer, in particular of Chardonnay. But then, the family has many other winery projects around the world where the pursuit of top quality is the number one priority. Some examples of the deep pockets can be seen here.

Concrete amphorae, made in Australia 

                                                      Terracotta amphorae from Italy

New foudre barrels

Another advantage of deep pockets is that Yangarra managed to hold back quite a bit as museum stock. In order to balance demand with the low yields of 2019 and 2020, some of it will be released over the next couple of years. My tasting reflects this strategy.

A straight Roussane can sometimes be a bit fat, but the 2016 Roussane is a clean and very fresh wine. True to the variety, it is not fruit oriented, but textural. The 2019 Noir is the absolute value for money wine. Rather than a standard GSM, this Grenache dominated blend includes also Cinsault and Carignan. It is a fairly light wine, juicy, round, and soft, with fine tannins. This is a delicious blend (92 points).

The hero variety of Yangarra is Grenache. The 2019 Old Vine Grenache is fragrant, with dark fruit and savoury notes. The tannins are quite firm - another very attractive wine and a step up from previous vintages (94 points). I could compare this with the 2011 Old Vine Grenache. The colour of this wine is still good, and the flavours quite intense. The wine has developed some earthy flavours (93 points).

The 2016 Ovitelli Grenache, from a special block of 75 year old vines, saw cool fermentation and maturation in amphora. As a result, there has been no oxygen exposure (the newer terracotta ones allow for some oxygen exchange). This is an elegant and very polished wine. It is savoury and fresh, and at peace with itself. The finish is very long (96 points).

On to the Shiraz. The 2018 Estate Shiraz is quite ripe, with dark fruit and mocca flavours. Peat and iodine add complexity to the elegant palate. The 2019 Kings Wood Shiraz, in its third vintage, has been matured in 2500 litre foudres, 50% new. It includes 20% wholebunch. Plum and blueberry flavours dominate. The tannins are fine, but also grippy. 

The 2017 Ironheart Shiraz comes from a north facing block, and according to Peter works really well in a cooler vintage.  The intensity of the blackberry fruit delivers a powerful wine, which is not sweet, quite an achievement. Again, the tannins are firm, and the finish very long (97 points).

There are some characteristics which cut across all these wines. Elegance is present in all of them. There is an emphasis on savoury flavours, without overdoing this, and as one moves up the 'pyramid', elegance is paired with power. 


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