There was a welcome visitor yesterday with Matt East, of Rouleur Wine Co. dropping by for a chat with a whole bag of new 2021 releases in tow.
Long-time readers of this site will know how much I love these Rouleur wines, with these uniformly delicate, typically underpriced Yarra & McLaren Vale wines consistently super. I mean consistent too – have a squizz at how Matt’s wines have rated over the Australian Wine Review history.
No change with this pack of ’21s either. Especially alluring when they’re still $34 a bottle at the Rouleur website.
I criticised the 2020 version of the Pinot Gris et al a year ago for not being orange enough, so with this Rouleur Pinot Gris et al 2021 it’s more orange (and probably better for it). A skin contact Yarra Valley Gris, but clean rather than trying to be wild, with mandarin and orange peel lifted by the skins. There is some skin contact Chardonnay and Gewurz too, although I only really see the Chard. Regardless, it’s a tight, clean orange wine, delivered with enough of the textural mouth party to keep you interested.
What’s even better is the Rouleur Strawberry Fields Pinot Meunier 2021. This sees the red apple and red fruit beauty of ripe Meunier given some Pinot Noir-esque meat and ironstone thrust to make a wine that is deadly serious, without being hard. For anyone who enjoys the autumnal shades of Yarra Pinot, but also fond of a little red fruit, this crunchy red is a highlight.
Although the Rouleur Pinot Noir 2021 might be even better again, dealing in a modern, light-touch, and unapologetically stalk-tannin-shaped Pinot of definition and vibrant, bony, involving style. The strong vintage gives this brightness and fruit roundness, and the tannins give it shape and pull. For contemplating, rather than hedonistic indulgence, but not questioning the enjoyment.
Meanwhile still can’t warm to the Arlo’s Pinot, and the Rouleur Arlo’s Upper Yarra Pinot Noir 2021 didn’t move me either. There is gloss and roundness (especially compared to the ‘standard’ Pinot) married to the structure but still, like the last vintage, it feels a bit too red-fruited and simple shaded for me.
No such dilemma with the Rouleur Grenache 2021. Again it’s Blewitt Springs juice and another kicking modern Grenache. There’s an unquestioned elegance to this wine that makes it feel more like the Pinot above, just with more glycerol oomph and less bony spice. I’m surprised to hear that it doesn’t sell anywhere near as well as the Pinot though. Are we overhyping the Grenache train? Are you buying Grenache? This is such a drinkable wine. Medium weight, ripe fruit, generosity without being alcoholic, subtleties and fruit. Why isn’t this emptied at speed?
The new Rouleur Shiraz 2021 is a slightly different beast too. 87% Blewitt Springs fruit and I see shades of the tilled earth blackness/cola nut thing that characterised this Juxtposed Shiraz. Birds of a feather and all that. Anyway, sub 14% alcohol (13.3% according to the website, I just checked) and it’s a spice-flecked, iodine-dipped, surprisingly dark-fruited wine that doesn’t scream seduction, but does roll with character and nuance. I think I’d drink the Grenache over this, but the ‘distance runner meets McLaren Vale Shiraz’ style here is unquestionably attractive.
Some final tidbits
- There will be a new Yarra Valley Cabernet Shiraz coming out at some stage. Matt sourced some old vine fruit from a plot in Kangaroo Ground this year, and made a cool. Yarra claret meets classic Aussie red sort of style. It will still be delicate, and circa 13% alcohol.
- He also took some Pinot Meunier fruit from Claire Burder’s high-altitude vineyard at Whitlands. Exciting.
- Interesting to note how little 2022 vintage Pinot from the Yarra there is going to be around. One block Matt takes fruit from normally gives 4-5 tonnes of fruit, this year it was 1.7 tonnes.
- For anyone who tried the Eastern Laneway wines, Matt confirms there will be more. I’m completely unsurprised that they’re so good either – it’s purely because ducks have aligned with fruit and production that those wines can sell for $11.99. Any other world and they’d be $20+. I knew it!