Life Begins At » The wine companion with Andrew Graham

The wine companion with Andrew Graham

Yellowglen Exceptional Vintage
XV Piccadilly Valley 2004
Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, SA
12%, Cork, $49.95

Welcome back Yellowglen.2004-xv-piccadilly-7a26b07eac881d6dbd85a30637590db0 copy

After nigh on a decade in the premium wine wilderness, Yellowglen has reentered the quality wine market, releasing a pair of sparkling wines that sit right up the top of the quality bubbly tree. Apparently these two Adelaide Hills wines are but the start of things to come, with further releases from the Coal River Valley in Tas and Deer Farm in the Yarra.

Personally I have fond memories of the old Yellowglen ‘Y’ wines (big Y on the front, huge bulbous bottle), as they were the first ‘premium’ bubblies that I started selling way back when I started in the industry 13 odd years ago (when I was younger and had long hair). Since then, the Yellowglen brand has faded into a sea of pink coloured, erm, Pink, and the legacy of what was once a handy sparkling ‘house’ has been lost. I’m actually glad to have the brand back, corporatised or not.

This wine is the youngest of the pair (02 is in the fridge at home) that I’ve tried and I can only guess that the 02 may be better again. Both are unquestionably built with intent, and the packaging looks more rather Champagne-like too (the Heidsieck Monopole NV blue top wines come to mind. They’re rubbish, but have quite French labels).

A Pinot dominant 66% Pinot 34% Charodnnay blend, this is sourced from the Hargrave vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley, and spent 7 years on lees and has a dosage of 8 grams/litre.

What I like about this is that mineral purity. There’s more than a hint of the Croser bubbly, made just across the Piccadilly Valley at Petaluma, in the style here, the precision and linearity of the palate and delicacy of the flavours all very clean and pure and well made, much like Croser. If anything, you really want to see more funk and wildness in this actually, with the delicate, lemon drop and white peach flavours mingling with autolytic gummy yeast characters and soft acidity.

A very pretty, light and well-made linear style, I can fully appreciate the effort that went into this. I’d love to see more power, more weight and less squeaky clean-ness, but its very good wine all the same.

Welcome back Yellowglen.

Drink: 2013-2018
Would I buy it? I’d rather drink the similarly priced Daosa but would enjoy a glass of this all the same.

Ten minutes by tractorTen Minutes By Tractor
McCutcheon Pinot Noir 2010

Mornington Peninsula, VIC
13.5%, Screwcap, $75

As with the rest of the Ten Minutes by Tractor single vineyard range, this feels like a super premium wine, with a certain sensuality to this Pinot in particular – on both nose and palate – that makes it stick out amongst the other Ten Minutes by Tractor Pinots. It feels riper, sexier, fuller and bigger (and is all the better for it) making it my favourite Pinot of the range.

Handpicked and 100% destemmed, this had a 5 day maceration and was then wild fermented with a short post-ferment maceration for a total of 20 days on skins. 25% new oak, 14 months in barrel, bottled unfined and unfiltered. Just 193 dozen made.

It smells alive too – sappy and plummy, with warm plum and raspberry coulis fruit. Quite forward on the nose, ripe and already open, curvaceous and full. Strong sappy tannins and dry meaty extract on palate suggest the maceration served its purpose well, giving this more masculine edges without harshness. I can’t fault the tannins actually, nor is there much to quibble about this serious, structured yet also perfectly detailed meaty Mornington Pinot. Superb wine.

Drink: 2013-2018+
Would I buy it? Yes. Not cheap but worth every cent.

grossetgaiaThe best Gaia in many years
Grosset Gaia 2010

Clare Valley, SA
13.7%, Screwcap, $69

I firmly believe that the (non-Riesling) Grosset wines are for contemplation, not for glugging, and this is perhaps the most pertinent example.

A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc drawn from a windswept, isolated Clare Valley vineyard that sits at 570m above sea level, in one of the highest spots in the Clare. Planted in the early 80s exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon an Cabernet Franc.

I’ve not seen the Gaia vineyard, but those that have remark about its sense of ‘specialness’ and uncompromised, knife-edge feel.

This, suitably, feels knife-edge ripe too, dancing between leafy, blackcurrant, menthol and cedar Cabernet characters, with varietal definition favoured over fruit sweetness, topped off with a little regional mint chocolate. Early picked  this is for sure, and fresher and lively smelling for it. Beautiful.

The palate has a high acid crunch, the tannins are leafy, vibrant and oh- so perfectly delineated, the fruit integrated, dry and blackcurranty (but not strictly fruity). In some ways that palate is too firm, too backward and too leafy to love now but the lines are very neatly drawn indeed. Superb. Best Gaia since ‘06.

Drink: 2016 – 2026+
Would I buy it? Yes. And  then put it in the cellar and forget about it for 5 years.

debortdeenvat5De Bortoli Deen
Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon 2008

Riverina, NSW 10.5%, Screwcap, $14

See the gold medal on the label? Utterly deserved. Simply put, this is stupendous value.

In fact, you could double the price of this wine and it would still be a fair price. A quick Google search reveals it can be picked up for just $10.45 a bottle too. Amazing.

A big, rich and full botrytis Semillon, this shares plenty of DNA with its older brother, Noble One. In fact, save for more intensity, this could be Noble One. It carries the same fullness of orange marmalade, tangerine fruit with crème caramel toffee richness and loads of unctuous sweetness, the flavours softened and further enriched by bottle age.

It’s a huge, intense, super hero rich dessert wine, simple in its flavours and all about intensity, but impressive because of it. Lengthy. Great form. Simply juicy.

Drink: 2013-2017
Would I buy it? Absolutely

maddensriseresshirazMaddens Rise
Reserve Shiraz 2008

Yarra Valley, VIC
12.6%, Screwcap, $45

“A lively, mid weight Shiraz that has evolved into something meaty, full, concentrated red of garrigue interest.”

This bottle came courtesy of my Mum, whom liked this wine so much that she wanted to share it with me. Nice work Mum

There’s an admirable level of detail in this wine and it shows too. The website lists every clone, the winemaking reflecting a pursuit for greatness, right down to the admirable grafting of Merlot over to Nebbiolo (the folly that may be or not, Nebbiolo being the masochists variety). Speaking of making, this is 100% whole bunch fermented in old oak (with a natural malolactic fermentation to boot) before being bottled without filtration.

It looks a little wild actually, the colour browning at the edges. Who cares about colour though when you still have that barrel sample freshness, the sausage meat white pepper Shiraz overtones with a healthy dose of whole bunch spice. You can see the warmth of the vintage in the fruit concentration, yet the acidity and the brightness suggest grapes picked at their optimal levels. A lively, mid weight Shiraz that has evolved into something meaty, full, concentrated red of garrigue interest. I’d drink it sooner rather than later, but that’s not such a bad thing either. Much to like here.

Drink: 2013-2018
Would I buy it? At a restaurant I could well be convinced. Perhaps a little meaty and forward for drinking on its own, though with meat it’s a different story.

About The Reviewer

Andrew Graham

2009/10 WCA Wine Journalism ‘Young Gun; Wine Judge; Gourmet Traveller WINE and Breathe Hunter Valley magazine contributor; LattéLife columnist; National Liquor News Tasting panellist and Chablis lover who fell into the liquor industry chiefly to buy cheap beer.

Over a decade later and I’m still here, now studying towards a  Masters of Wine Technology and Viticulture, and still spending all my money on beer and wine…

For more reviews visit my site the Australian Wine Review at which is dedicated to talking about my obsession –  everything vinous…

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