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An Outstanding Grenache from Down Under: Yangarra Estate in McLaren Vale

We haven’t reviewed many wines from Australia recently, which is a bit odd considering we used to buy and drink wine from down under quite frequently years ago.  There was a variety or two in the Penfolds line that were regulars in our household, and we also went through a period rather heavy in Shiraz.  For whatever reason we’ve drifted away into other climes, and with the vast variety available these days, from everywhere you can think of, it can be hard to find your back to some places.  Australia seems to be in that category.

Which is a shame, as there is much great wine to be had from this country/continent.  A few summers ago we had a chance to talk with John Geber of Chateau Tanunda, in the Barossa Valley (read about that here).  We’ve had a few really good wines make our event reviews or Top Ten lists (read about a GREAT bottle of Penfold’s here), but we haven’t done anything in depth or focused on an Australian winery.  Let’s change that here.

yangarra winery

yangarra winery

Yangarra Estate Vineyards is a single vineyard, 400+ acre, biodynamic wine farm and estate in McLaren Vale in South Australia.  Old, bush-vine Grenache is the cornerstone varietal here, but the major grapes of the southern Rhone  are all represented.

the bush vines

the bush vines

Syrah and Mouvedre on the red side, along with Viognier and Rousanne on the white, provide a definitive Rhone profile.  McClaren Vale resides in a temperate, maritime climate, and the winery is at the northeast corner, at the foot of the Southern Mount Lofty Range.  A total of 250 acres on the farm is actually planted with vines.  The rest is essentially left in it’s natural state.  Looking at the vineyard map reveals an interesting range of grapes, with some unexpected varietals such as Tempranillo and Graciano.  These last two are certainly not related to the Rhone Valley, but do maintain the Mediterranean theme.

The wines here are varied and what you would expect given the grapes cultivated.  You can see their list on their website at:

We only have one wine from Yangarra to review right now.  It is the 2013 Old Vine Grenache.

2013 Yangarra Old Vine Grenache: They use the ancient, bush vine method here, where the vase shaped vines stand without wires IMG_2191or any other system of support.  These particular vines are in a sandy site which soaks in heat during the day and releases it at night, similar to the stony ground of Chateauneuf du Pape.  Hand picked, the grapes are carefully sorted for perfect berries.  Open top fermenters are used for cold soak and the start of wild fermentation.  After about 14 days the wine went into older French barriques.  This was filtered, but not fined.  What do we think?

The wine is dark ruby but still transparent and quite brilliant.  The nose is raspberry and cherry, with some menthol notes and a hint of a brambly quality.  On the palate it is quite rich, with bright cherry fruit.  Tannins are still a bit stiff, and this could easily decant for an hour.  It will age well.  The acid provides excellent balance.  Medium+ in body, it finishes long, but not exceptionally long.  What strikes you about this wine is its purity of fruit.  Like many great wines you can taste the quality and the pure expression the winemaker has crafted.  This is very good, well worth its suggest retail price of $32.  We liked it very much.

So we have ourselves a winner from McClaren Vale in South Australia, and now we are intrigued.  We will need to further explore the wines from Yangarra to see if this is typical of the quality we should expect.  With this particular wine you can’t go wrong.

A votre santé!


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