Yalumba The Scribbler 2012

Yalumba The Scribbler
Yalumba The Scribbler

The Facts

Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (54%) & Shiraz (46%) from Yalumba.
RRP $22
Closure: screwcap
Alcohol: 13.5%

The Waffle

Oh, there is none. Finally some cool weather in Adelaide so finally I want to drink some red wine!

The Wine

In the glass, moderately intense and sitting somewhere between purple and ruby in colour.

The nose is reasonably pronounced with lots of mostly black berry fruit: blackberries and cassis. There’s a touch of something minty and stalky which gives it some extra interest. There is a bit of warmth showing too.

In the mouth, lots of juicy black fruit with some good acidity and some well structured tannins. The length isn’t bad either but there is some warmth from the alcohol. The flavour profile is a little too straightforward for me to get overly excited about so I’m unlikely to rush out and buy a case. Having said that, I’d consider ordering a glass from a wine list or, indeed a whole bottle if it was a big table. This is absolutely a wine that will have very broad appeal – and rightly so.

Yalumba Single Site Schiller Vineyard Shiraz 2007


Another 2007 wine and completely by accident. Whereas last time we were in McLaren Vale, let’s shift north to the Barossa.

I first came across the Yalumba ‘single site’ Shirazes at the Negociants’ Working with Wine Shiraz masterclass last year. I can’t remember now exactly the wine we tried (and I don’t have my handouts immediately to … hand) but I was sufficiently impressed by the wine to spot this offering at auction. On release, this was $60 a bottle but I can see now that you can pick it up slightly more cheaply. I ended up paying around $55 – so a small saving.

For a while it has been sitting in our wine fridge (hmmm, another topic I’ve been meaning to write about for a while!) waiting for an appropriate occasion. Generally, ‘appropriate occasion’ in our house means that someone is thirsty. I also have the philosophy with my auction purchases that we only check out the price/value AFTER we’ve opened the bottle – that way we avoid the agonising over whether we really should open it …

The wine

In the glass, garnet and intense in colour – both as you would expect for an eight year old Barossa Shiraz.

The nose did seem quite muted but this may be a very unfair assessment as our house is most kindly described as bloody cold and I’m finding that wine tasting in winter is something of a challenge when it comes to service temperatures. Despite being shyer than you’d expect, the nose showed plenty of black fruit with a touch of licorice and vanilla.

The palate was a lot more forward – lots of black fruit and vanilla, with a meat and leather finish. There was good acidity and some pleasant soft tannins and the wine showed good length. I particularly liked that the savoury, slightly developed characters kicked in at the end.

The wine definitely has plenty of life left in it so if you are in possession of one or more bottles there is no need to rush.

We both felt that the $50-60 mark was a trifle high. Yes, this wine has been scored highly and reviewed well but my gut feeling is that there are other Barossa Shirazes out there at an equivalent price point which show a bit more complexity and character. Of course, I’m not comparing directly like for like, as the wines I am thinking of are all younger so be aware that this is a slightly unfair comparison …

Yalumba. Purchased at auction for ~ $55.
13.5% abv.


Yalumba Galway Malbec 2012


I’m mortified that it’s been exactly a month since my last post. It’s not that I’ve not been drinking some interesting wines in the interim – I have and the tasting notes are stacking up – but I always find the more I am writing for publication the far less inclined I am to write for fun after Master 4 goes to bed.

The release of this wine I actually wrote about for the last (June) SA Life food & wine enews – so for Yalumba background I refer you to that.

For wine geekery … stay here.

Malbec is perhaps most often recognised as the black grape of Argentina. It hails from France and you find its entry in Wine Grapes under its first French name, Cot. Originally from Quercy, a former province in the south-west of France, it appears to have arrived in the Gironde (Bordeaux) in the eighteenth century, which is also when its name ‘Malbeck’ is first recorded. DNA analysis shows us that Malbec is the half sibling Merlot.

Its plantings in Bordeaux were reduced by severe frosts in the mid-twentieth century which means that, although it’s still permitted in a Bordeaux blend, there’s not a great deal used though you will find it making up at least 70% of a wine labelled Cahors, from the nearby Lot region.

But it is in Argentina that it has really found its niche. Introduced in the mid nineteenth century, it is now the country’s most widely planted (quality) variety. Compared with Argentina’s roughly 27000 ha, Australia’s just under 400 ha seems minimal. Many of our plantings are in South Australia and Yalumba’s vine nursery has been instrumental in bringing the variety to the country.

Given how little is planted in Australia, I suspect that for many people this will be something of a new variety. I certainly found this wine much more approachable than many of the Argentine examples I’ve tried and I think anyone who enjoys big Australian reds should like this. I found it attractive in every aspect: in the class, how it smelt and how it tasted. My tasting notes wrap up with “smart and interesting for < $20”. If you are the kind of drinker who finds branching out a challenge, do yourself a favour and pick this up.

The wine

In the glass, really quite deep and a very pretty bright ruby/cherry red.

The nose was also attractive – showing bright red berry fruit, red and black cherries, some spice and even a hint of violet.

The palate follows through with those cherries. Black and red cherries with a hefty side of vanilla, although actually not badly balanced and certainly not madly tannic. There was a slight earthy character and while the wine was not massively complex, the length was pretty good and stayed balanced.

If you do not like wines with a big whack of oak this will not be your style, but it is not so over the top that it will blind you to the wine’s pretty fresh fruit.

Yalumba. Sample, RRP $17.99. The wine is a limited edition so you may need to look out for it.
13.5% abv.

Greenock Creek Seven Acre Shiraz 2012


Greenock Creek is, for South Australians at least, a very well known Barossa winery. Greenock is one of the small Barossa towns/villages and the eponymous winery is a small, family run and estate driven outfit that has built a formidable reputation. The website makes the point, almost emphatically, that only the winery’s own grapes are used, so wine stocks are completely in the hands of the weather gods.

This wine was from a WSET Level 1 class. This is an introductory class which showcases a small selection of wines, including a premium Shiraz. Without fail, I choose something local for this wine because it is always enjoyable to show local wine lovers an excellent example of a style with which they are familiar.

I hadn’t actually tried this wine before – I have enjoyed (very much so) a back vintage of the Alices Shiraz (a couple of price points down) so I was more than happy to take a punt.

Everyone’s eyes lit up when this was poured and everyone in the class enjoyed it. Without a doubt, this is a wine that will not be harmed by some time in the cellar. At a retail price of around $55 a bottle, I suspect that few of us will be splashing out on a case but if you’re in the position to drink now, then you can do so because it is delicious.

The wine

In the glass, intense and inky, almost still purple in colour – looking young.

The nose was quite pronounced, showing plenty of plum and licorice, plum jam, sweet spice and even a tiny touch of sweet spice.

On the palate, the plum and licorice are there and the spice is more apparent. There was a hint of black fruit sweets. The tannins were quite soft but offered plenty of structural support. The wine was rounded out by good acidity and length.

What really stood out (in a good way) with this wine is that even though it’s a big 15.5% abv this, even at just 3 years old, is beautifully integrated. It might show up a touch on the finish but it’s impressively unobtrusive.

Purchased from the Ed Cellars, $55.
15.5% abv.

Yalumba 2013 Old Bush Vine Grenache


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.
13.5% abv.

Another bonus: it is both vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Kaesler The Bogan Shiraz 2007


Reviews of expensive wines sometimes seem a dime a dozen. When you head to industry events, the big guns are always cracked out – which is fab, don’t get me wrong! – but at the same time not indicative of how most people really drink. And, sadly, it’s also not indicative of how I drink. In some ways, I wish money were no object when it came to wine, but actually I enjoy seeking out wines which over perform.

And this is some kind of justification for now writing about a wine which, if you head out to buy it, will be difficult to track down and will set you back around $50. Sorry for that.

Over the years, I’ve worked for quite a few different companies in my ‘proper’ job and the quality (or dearth) of Christmas gifts has always been an interesting insight into management pysche. One small company gave us all a whole case of wine one Christmas, one company gave us nothing, and one gave us this wine, a bottle of 2007 Kaesler ‘The Bogan’* Shiraz from the Barossa Valley.

Kaesler is a privately owned winery in the Barossa, and the first vines were planted in 1893. It releases wines in three ‘series’: Stonehorse, Estate and Limited Release. The Bogan falls under the Estate banner and its Shiraz grapes come, in part, from a vineyard over 100 years old. It’s a carefully crafted wine, built to age, and one that, at just seven years of age, you’d expect to be something of a baby.

And in the glass it looked like a baby: very intense and a deep, inky purple. The nose was pronounced, complex and showing slightly more development. Licorice and tar were first off the rank, backed up by blackberry, chocolate and tobacco and there was something ever so slightly green and stalky.

In the mouth we’re talking about a lot of black fruit – lots of blackberry, with anise, licorice and a hint of black pepper. Good acidity and tannins that are slightly grippy and chewy provide excellent structure and mean that you needn’t be in a hurry to drink any spare bottles you have lying around. While the alcohol is apparent it is not intrusive or particularly unbalanced and the wine has a lovely, complex length.

Yes, this is a delicious wine with a good future ahead of it. Would I rush out and pay $50 a bottle for it? I’m on the fence here, but I’m very grateful that there is another bottle in the cellar that I can revisit in a couple of years.

Corporate gift.
15.5% abv.

* For non-Australian readers, ‘bogan’ is Australian vernacular for an ‘uncouth or unsophisticated person’.  It is, naturally, derogatory.

Tim Smith Wines 2010 Barossa Mataro Grenache Shiraz


My notes now reveal I am just two months behind in my typing. At this rate, I’ll never be able to share with you any gems beyond the tasting notes themselves.

On several trips to the bottle shop I’ve noticed the small selection of Tim Smith Wines on the shelves and thought I should try one. If I recall correctly, at least one is outside my mid-week spend limit, but seeing a write up of the wines in general in a local paper, motivated me to actually get around to
buying one.

The blend of grapes is one which is comfortably familiar: Mataró, also known as Mourvèdre or Monastrell, Grenache and Shiraz are very often seen as a GSM blend and if you ever find yourself trying a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or other Southern Rhône appellations, then you will most likely be drinking a similar blend. To see the M as the dominant grape variety is a little quirkier, but referring to it as the more pronounceable and spellable Mataró. While you’ll often see the grave accent on the French Mourvèdre, you’ll less frequently see the acute accent on the Catalan Mataró. Monastrell is Spanish and, really helpfully, between the two Iberian variants, they are also synonyms for other grapes. You have to keep your wits about you.

Now you’re confused … what about the wine? My notebook indicates that these notes were written on the second day the wine was open.

In the glass, appearance is medium intensity and a youthful ruby with just a touch of purple about it.

The nose shows berries, berry leaves and complexity in the form of licorice, tar and aniseed. On the palate, these aromas are rather reversed with the savoury characteristics, especially the spice and a cedar finish, outshining the fresh red and black berry fruit. I did note that the fruit was, unsurprisingly, a little diminished on the second day.

The wine has a good structure: acidity, tannins and alcohol are all in balance and the wine has a good length, with that lovely savoury finish.

As I typically prefer wines with something other than a bowlful of fresh fruit on the palate, this was right up my street. And, of course, immensely food friendly.

As is often the case with our local, this wine is a back vintage, but the current release (2012) is available from Tim Smith Wines for $28.

$25-$30 from Cellarbrations, Flagstaff Hill.
14.5% abv.

WBW80: Dry Rose


I was pretty pleased to spot a discussion about the return of Wine Blogging Wednesday on facebook. Wine Blogging Wednesday, after running for ages, has had something of a hiatus but in its earlier incarnation I was a reasonably regular participant and I often found it a good excuse to try something very left of field.

Of course, a bit more regular writing* and engaging with the wine blogging community is no bad thing – especially as I’ll be heading off to the Digital Wine Communications Conference in a couple of months.

I won’t lie – I was pretty disappointed that the theme for the return of WBW was dry rosé. Here in the southern hemisphere it’s the middle of winter and rosé is the last thing on my mind (especially this week – our twenty year old hot water service has just given up the ghost!).

But if nothing else I figured it would be good practice for summer. My initial thoughts had been to head out and find some new, quirky, different, small batch … and then I ran out of time to hit the shops where I’d be able to find such gems. I ended up with a bottle of 2013 Turkey Flat Rosé, from South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

Turkey Flat is a well known, established and well regarded winery with some seriously old vines. Last time I was up there (yes, I’m privileged enough to about an hour and a half’s drive away) we came away with a few reds so I was expecting good things.

Still, enough waffle – and on to the wine, a blend of Grenache, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Dolcetto. Make of that what you will.

In the glass, the wine is a very pretty pale salmon pink.

The nose is pretty pronounced but I didn’t get a lot of fresh fruit. Think confected: pink lollies, sherbert and musk.

On the palate the wine is dry (residual sugar is actually 4.8g/L so some may detect the merest hint of sweetness) with good, refreshing acidity. Although the palate starts off reflecting the confected nose, there is some tannic structure and (hoorah!) some fresh strawberries and raspberries.

If you can’t tell, I was a bit disappointed in this wine. Not because it’s a bad wine but because it’s a style of wine that just doesn’t appeal to me. I know there are tons of people for whom this style works and they will love this wine but I look for something a bit more steely, serious and stern in a rosé.

If you’re looking for something fun, pink and relatively uncomplicated to drink this summer (wherever you are!) this could definitely be for you.

This wine was purchased from Dan Murphy’s for about $17.
Closure: screw cap.
Alcohol: 13% abv.

* If you’re worried about my blogging commitment, I do write a food blog, Eating Adelaide, and I know the DWCC organisers are keen to get more involvement from food bloggers … talk about hedging your bets!

Domain Day 2005 One Serious Sangiovese

I’ve spent the last two weeks enjoying the company of a head cold so I’ve had plenty of alcohol free days and stuck to drinking the odd beer and very little in the way of interesting wine.

I do have a backlog of proper notes to type up, so fresh content is on its way!

As the cold stuck in its claws, I opened a bottle of Domain Day 2005 One Serious Sangiovese which I’d found in a bottle shop, (slightly) reduced to $27.

No tasting note today, as I drank the wine under the weather and figure that it’s hardly fair to either the wine or readers to attempt to pass sophisticated judgement. I will, however, say that I enjoyed it very much over a couple of nights. Based on my slightly befuddled state, I’d buy it again!

However, I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to write not about a grape variety, but a little about a winery whose focus is very much on the alternative varieties.

I first came across Domain Day when I was researching some wines for a client. In this instance, I was after a Saperavi. There’s actually a few South Australian Saperavi producers and in this instance, the Domain Day offering ticked quite a few boxes: it was one I hadn’t tried before, it was at the right price point and it was (relatively) easily available retail. I was pretty impressed with the wine – and, if I recall correctly, at least a couple of people in the resulting class had rated it highly too – so Domain Day as a producer was already on my radar when I saw the Sangiovese.

In addition to the Saperavi and Sangiovese, Domain Day produces a Lagrein, sweet and dry Garganegas, and a few wines made from grape varieties with which you most likely will be familiar.

The winery is at Mt Crawford, in the south eastern corner of the Barossa. In fact, it seems that it’s really pretty well subsumed by the Barossa as various erudite wine tomes* fail to mention it individually. At 450m the Domain Day vineyards are high enough to enjoy a cooler climate so they get to grow Riesling and Pinot Noir alongside the slightly quirkier varietals.

Robin Day is the proprietor and winemaker and comes scarily well credentialled. He’s ex Orlando Wyndham and Pernod Ricard with plenty of overseas experience.

Domain Day is a great example of a smaller, and dare I say it, less well known winery, with some formidable winemaking experience at the helm. Personally, I will always pick up a wine with which I am not familiar in preference to a big brand name. I’m on a bit of a mission to convince other wine buyers to do the same. A small, unfamiliar name doesn’t mean a lack of inside nous and competence.

This wine was purchased from Cellarbrations, Flagstaff Hill for $27 (reduced).
Closure: screw cap
13.8% abv

* By which I mean Sotheby’s Encyclopedia and the World Atlas of Wine.

Mountadam High Eden NV Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay


Quite often Andy is dispatched on a wine buying mission for me. I don’t think he enjoys this experience so I always try to pick out at least one thing for him to buy (more than one just in case option 1 is not in stock). Wine stores – this is why you need to have an up to date and comprehensive list on your website.

One Friday he was dispatched on such a mission and I randomly picked the Mountadam High Eden NV Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay. I’d love to provide you with a link to the actual wine but either the Mountadam website is really out of date or the horrible Flash monstrosity that appears to be the “Wines” page doesn’t render correctly in my browser of choice. I’ve actually really struggled to find you any other information about this wine on the internet although if you have a subscription you may care to check out The Wine Front, which at least is relatively recent and not trying to sell you the wine.

So now you’re just going to have to trust me.

In the glass the wine is quite gold in colour, with lots of bubbles*. The nose is not particularly pronounced but there’s Granny Smith, rose and strawberry. The palate has plenty of crisp acidity but I did feel there was perhaps just a touch too much tart/bitter lemon action. All these tart flavours dominate: Granny Smith and citrus but not enough sweetness (as in flavour sweetness, not actual sugar in the wine) for me. I’d like some of that strawberry that was on the nose to come through on the palate. The wine does have good length but it’s clean and simple, rather than offering complex and developing flavours. I also didn’t get any of the bready, yeasty notes that I like to find in bubbles, but more I was disappointed by the lack of fruit sweetness on the palate.

I paid (well, Andy, as my proxy) paid $24 for this wine. At this price point, I think there are better and/or more interesting wines you can buy. However, if you could pick this wine up sub $20 I’d definitely give it a go.

Given its flavour profile, I’d recommend drinking this as an apéritif wine, rather than trying to pair it. Maybe it’d work with oysters though.

This wine was purchased from East End Cellars for $24.
Closure: cork.

* Yes, I’m aware this is more to do with the glass and how clean it is and less to do with the wine. If this type of wine geekery interests you, check out this piece from The Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog.