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Y for Yalumba

by Tom cannavan, 09/10

Yalumba is a venerable company, founded in 1849 by British migrant and brewer Samuel Smith. Today, the Hill-Smith family are still in control making Yalumba Australia's oldest family-owned winery. Their wines are distributed in Britain by Negociants UK, and this tasting feature focuses on the 'Y Series' portfolio of varietal wines, plus a small selection of their super-premium wines like the Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet and 'The Signature' Cabernet-Shiraz blend from Barossa, as well as a new wine for me, 'The Scribbler', a recently launched wine that Yalumba describes as being "a youthful embodiment of 'The Signature'," being another Barossa Cabernet-Shiraz at a considerably lower price.

the super premiums

Yalumba, 'The Scribbler' Cabernet Shiraz 2007
Fermentation was partly using wild yeasts found in the vineyard for this wine, which spent 14 months in larger 'hogshead' barrels, a quarter of which were new. The aroma is seductive and enticing, with a deep, ripe, mulberry and cassis pool of black fruit and a swirl of vanilla and cedar. There's a nice touch of Cabernet's leafiness too, adding a nice edge. On the palate the juicy, fleshy fruit quality of plum and cherry, with a black fruited, blackberry bite fills the mouth. There's a genuine sense of freshness here that is lovely, a slightly smoky character and a robustly spicy grip too, all finishing with the sweetness of the fruit counter-balanced by spice, mocha, tannin and good acidity. 91/100. Around £12.00, Berry Bros & Rudd. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Yalumba, 'The Signature' Cabernet Shiraz 2005
Big brother, The Signature, was made in a similar way although it spent 22 Months in hogsheads (a third of which were new) and was released only after four years. There's a much darker, more Sandalwood and
  
tobacco spiciness on the nose here, with a deep, opulent chocolate and juicy black plum fruitiness, though still with that little lift of camphory, green-tinged Cabernet which is very attractive. On the palate that plush, woodsmoke and espresso quality again adds a layer of extra depth, but the fruit is supple and persistent and again the roughening edge of tannin and good acidity adds a welcome edge to all that plush, deep fruit. 93/100. Around £23.00, see all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Yalumba, 'The Menzies' Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
This single vineyard wine is made by 'small lot winemaking', the grapes crushed to small fermenters with hand-plunging of the skins. The majority of oak is French, with around 20% in older American hogsheads. It spent 22 months in oak in total. It has a seamless nose, quite lifted and fragrant with pepper and green, mentholy herbs to tight black fruit. On the palate this has a silkiness to the texture and it broadens out to offer quite an opulent, fleshy mid-palate, before that little edgy acidity and hint of tight, grippy structure tugs everything back into line. The finish shows lots of chocolate and spice, in a wine that's not quite so easy to approach as the Signature, but has an intriguing line and length. 93/100. Around £27.00, Berry Bros & Rudd. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

the Y Series

Yalumba, 'Y Series' Pinot Grigio 2008
There's an attractively fresh, aromatic pear character to this wine with just a touch of buttery pastry in the background. On the palate it is dry and mouth-watering, with a juiciness to the apple and pear fruit and a background that it nutty and quite rich, with little herbal tones. Quite powerfully concentrated, yet light in alcohol, this has a bit of bite and character. 87/100. £8.25, WineDirect. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Yalumba, 'Y Series' Unwooded Chardonnay 2008
No oak, but some lees ageing gives this wine a fresh, apple and blossom character, with a touch of oatmeal and a light nuttiness. On the palate the fruit is ripe and juicy, with a touch of pithy grapefruit but that apple crunch and melon juiciness. The citrussy acidity is good, and this Chablis-style chardonnay has good concentration and length. 88/100. £9.10, AustralianWinesOnline. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com
  

Yalumba, 'Y Series' Viognier 2008
An immediate richness of honey, oatmeal and dried apricot fruit floods the nose of this unoaked Viognier, fermented with wild yeast and aged on its lees. There's a touch of smoky spice too in an exotic and alluring profile. On the palate the very ripe fruit has a biting tang of bitter orange over that apricot flavour, a lemongrass zest and crunch and a phenolic grip giving this layers of concentration and structure. It is a big, attention-grabbing wine this, perhaps let down by a touch too much alcohol and a slight astringency, but if you like this style it is really very good. 87/100. £8.25, WineDirect. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Yalumba, 'Y Series' Riesling 2009
The 2008 of this wine is drinking well, but this 2009 possibly has the edge and hallmark style too. The nose is flooded with fresh-cut limes, a touch of boiled sweet character and a little leafy, nettle lift. On the palate it is dry and citrussy, with a harmonious, clean and crisp character that perhaps lacks a little firework brilliance, but delivers a sophisticated, well-balanced and pitch-perfect mouthful of Riesling. 88/100. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Yalumba, 'Y Series' Sangiovese Rosé 2009
A bold, light- to medium colour, with a nose of subtle, creamy, soft red berries. On the palate this has a pleasingly tart juiciness, with a ruby grapefruit edge to those softer, more earthy fruit flavours. I like the little twist of dried herbs too, which is typically Sangiovese, and the cherryish bite to the acidity. A really nicely-pitched, savoury style. 87/100. £7.99, Selfridges. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Yalumba, 'Y Series' Merlot 2008
There's a soft, vanilla and earthy spice warmth to this wine, with deep, cassis and blueberry fruit. On the palate a rush of that intense, sweet-edged but bittersweet fruit, with black cherry skin bite and plenty of crisp acidity. In fact, along with dry tannins, this is perhaps just a shade aggressive in the finish - but that's always preferable in Merlot to over-sweetness or lack of bite. 86/100. £8.25, WineDirect. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Yalumba, 'Y Series' Shiraz Viognier 2008
Very vibrant purple colour and hugely lifted nose, with kirsch and violets and lots of wafting perfume as well as a touch of graphite. On the palate this is dry and maintains a nice cherry-skin edge with tight tannins and a lean core of acidity. It is a brisk, flavoursome wine that has the bite to handle grilled lamb chops or pork belly with crackling. 87/100. £7.99, Nidderdale Fine Wines. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Yalumba, 'Y Series' Shiraz 2008
This wine shares some of Shiraz Viognier's kirsch-like lift, but the meaty, more peppery and dense fruit quality is apparent. On the palate this has a plum-like fruitiness, with fine sweetness and a nicely grippy, charcoally edge to the powdery tannins. That dryness makes this quite savoury, despite the fruit sweetness, with a touch of meat-stock quality too. 87/100. £6.99, The Fine Wine Co. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com