Urgh, another grape day.
I’ll play, though, because today is International Grenache Day 2023, and who can ignore the charms of this noble grape?
For this year’s Grenache Day fix, we’re diving into the portfolio of Yalumba, who are among a small cadre of Australian wine producers with a sizeable Grenache portfolio. What’s more, the Hill-Smith family are investing more into Grenache and its mutations, with a new Grenache Blanc due out soon (watch for it to drop on the Yalumba website).
Yalumba winemaker Sam Wigan dialled in to talk through these wines, too, noting how the winery is indeed planting more Grenache (or grafting over from other things) on the back of improving demand.
Let’s take a look at a few wines:
Rogers & Rufus Rosé 2022
Yeah, I know, this is a pink wine. It’s 100% Barossan Grenache, though, with handpicked fruit, barrel ferment and maturation in old oak. As Wigan notes, ‘the acid is really low on this wine. What I really aim for with this style is what Robert’s (Hill-Smith) daughters call “lunch water” that you can just drink and not think about’.
Pale salmon coloured, it’s all strawberry creams, the nose taut but gently creamy. Creamed strawberry palate too, though it’s a gentle wine – lilts of pretty fruit and no hard edges. It’s not strictly a head-turner – a subdued for that – but a lovely soft-edged, bone-dry, savoury wine with gentle pink fruit textures for immediate drinking. 17.5/20, 91/100. 11.5%, $27.
Running with Bulls Garnacha 2021
This Barossan red has been around since 2015 and is a ‘juicy, bright, light red drinking style’ according to Wigan. 30% whole bunches and a cool wild ferment, then pressed off early, with maturation wholly in tank. ‘We encourage summer drinking and serving it chilled,’ notes Wigan.
Light ruby coloured, it’s a syrupy and playful thing with plump, slightly confected fruit on an open and Grenachey palate. There’s a little spice, but more about the joy of Grenache, and some carbonic maceration only helps the juiciness, though I find this just a bit simple. Honest and juicy, though. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $25.
Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2021
All old vine material. Average vine age is 70 years! 20% of this wine will sit on skins for 100 days. All of the blend matured in old oak/tank.
Ruby with a shade of purple. Lovely glacé fruit but not confected. Indeed it’s closer to the Vine Vale than anything, another juicy and joyous wine but with more grunt than the Garnacha. Lovely jubey fruit, again not confected though. There isn’t the same tannins as the fancier wines but what exuberance and life. I really enjoy drinking this and more so than the Tri-Centenary. What a bargain! Importantly, this really packs in the old vine intensity for the price too, 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, 28.
Yalumba Vine Vale Grenache 2022
From two blocks on the Yalumba Vine Vale property with vines planted in 1929 & 1949. The blend from one block sees 31% whole bunches and the other 20%. Again, old oak maturation here, 500 dozen made. Bright, ruby purple with classic redcurrant, a little rhubarb and then some x-factor old vine notes. Shows a careful balance of red fruit and silken flavours with a brush of fine sandpaper Grenache tannins. You can see the stem influence on the tannins, with Sam also noting, ‘I love the sandy tannins that come through. They’re still soft, but there’. I really like this – mid-weight and indeed elegant Grenache but with carefully contained power. Excellent. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14.5%, $40.
Yalumba The Tri-Centenary Grenache 2021
From a block planted in 1889 also on the Vine Vale property. Just 820 vines. Spends 250 days on skins. Zero time in oak.
You can see that skin contact, too – it’s brooding and moody with all sorts of mulchy spicy extras, despite the light ruby colour. Indeed, it’s more secondary than primary, with a whisper of veggies amid the glacé cherries. Firm, meaty and extractive palate is again more secondary, all tannin and pan juices. A fascinating wine, but also uncompromising and a much harder drink, to the point where Mrs Ozwinereview was turned off the tannins. Interest is high, however. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $65.
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