Yalumba 2013 Old Bush Vine Grenache

by Alex Prichard on 8 October 2014

 

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The Royal Adelaide Wine Show has wrapped up for another year and, positions on wine shows aside, I’ve been lucky enough to try a few of the medal winning wines from this year’s entries. This has been thanks to my involvement in the Wine Communicators of Australia SA Chapter committee – so I’m in the luxurious position of neither having to pay for the wines directly nor feeling beholden to any producer.

I was also lucky enough to be able to share these wines with some of my family and the reason I’ve chosen to write about the Yalumba Grenache first is that it was, easily, the wine that was the biggest hit with my small sample of enthusiastic non-industry drinkers. There was even some acknowledgement that seeing ‘Yalumba’ would be cause to skip the wine in a retail environment (I guess you can get too big!). This wine picked up the top gold medal in Class 34 – Grenache 2013 and older. This was a small class with fewer than 25 entries and more than half picking up medals. What conclusions to draw from this … I know not!

It is disappointing though that this the show’s lone Grenache class was so small – as Grenache is a grape capable of producing really lovely wines that hold their own against our blockbuster Shirazes and Cabernets. It is food friendly, approachable and capable of ageing. In South Australia we are also privileged to have plenty of seriously old Grenache vines. Indeed, the vines that produced the grapes for this wine were planted in 1898.

So what is it like in the glass?

Appearance wise, medium intensity, and purple-ruby in colour. The nose is reasonably pronounced, showing strawberry and strawberry leaf and stem characters with a touch of tobacco and cedar.

On the palate, the stemmy/stalky notes are very much in the background to lots of fresh red fruit – strawberries and raspberries, wrapped up with a little white pepper and warm spice. Some of the cedar shows up too. What is really lovely and refreshing about this wine is that you get to experience this spice complexity and then it wraps up with another burst of fresh, juicy strawberry. The tannins are soft and the acidity is actually not too bad either which I think adds to the sensations of ripe red fruit, but it’s not over the top (which you wouldn’t expect in a Grenache anyway) meaning there’s no tartness.

Perhaps what is most pleasing about this wine is that you can pick it up for under $20. Even at a slightly higher price point this wine would represent something of a bargain, but below $20 there’s just no excuse not to give it a try.

Widely available.
Screwcap.
13.5% abv.

Another bonus: it is both vegetarian and vegan friendly.

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Seghesio 2012 Sonoma County Zinfandel

by Alex Prichard on 16 September 2014

 

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I’ve written about the Seghesio Old Vines Zin before but today we look at the entry level Sonoma County Zin. In the States, this retails at $US24, here in Australia you’re looking at the mid-$40 mark.

For me, Seghesio is a reliable Zinfandel producer. Having drunk (sorry, tasted) the a few of the wines on several occasions now they are always cracking, exemplary examples of both grape and style. If anyone ever said to me “I want to try an American Zinfandel” I’d recommend Seghesio without batting an eyelid.

Zinfandel is a Croatian grape variety (very handy piece of wine trivia that one!) and in the incomparable Wine Grapes it is listed under its snappy Croatian name … Tribidrag.  It has a few synonyms but the ones you’re most likely to encounter are Zinfandel (California) and Primitivo (Puglia, Italy).  There’s quite a twisty turny grape DNA story about how Tribidag, Primitivo and Zinfandel came to be identified as one and the same and for the purposes of today’s didactic content – let’s just content ourselves with the end conclusion.

Today, we find the grape growing in Croatia and some of the other countries of the former Yugoslavia, along with the US (principally California), Israel, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and even France. It’s becoming increasingly widespread in Australia too – once upon a time it was WA’s Cape Mentelle all the way if you wanted an Australian Zin but there are now producers seemingly everywhere (Kangarilla Rd pops to mind without even thinking too hard!).

In the glass the wine is an intense and deep purple – this is obviously a young wine! The nose is reasonably pronounced, showing lots of black berry fruits, black cherry, some warm spice and vanilla and even some fruitcake.

On the palate, there is all that black fruit again – most particularly the black cherries. There’s also the vanilla and good acidity which helps balance out all the fruit bomb sweetness. The palate is more complex than the nose – with licorice and milk chocolate showing too. The tannins are fine and soft. The length isn’t bad although the complexity drops off reasonably quickly and it becomes all about the black cherry fruit.

This wine is just a touch hot – the alcohol is definitely noticeable and given the wine’s rather linear finish it does rather stick out. These two factors (alcohol and finish) push me towards good rather than very good.

If you’re looking for an introduction to American Zinfandel this is a great start (even with the alcohol – that’s a big part of US Zins!) – especially if you can’t track down or afford the Old Vines.

Edinburgh Cellars.
Cork.
14.8% abv.

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