Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wine Australia Yarra Valley Tasting

Last night myself and a couple of likely lads had the pleasure of attending another one of John McDonnell's Ozzie tastings. This evening it was the turn of the Yarra Valley, a cool area just north of Melbourne. John was joined by Phil Sexton of Innocent Bystander/Giant Steps wines.

Phil gave us a potted history lesson on the Valley e.g.
  • Viticulture only really started there in the 60's.
  • The Wine output of the valley is tiny by Australian standards.
  • There are approx 600 vineyards and about 120 producers.
  • In terms of temperature the Yarra is warmer than Burgundy but cooler than Bordeaux
  • Bushfires in 2009 nearly destroyed the entire crop.
We started with a glass of Domaine Chandon NV - I liked this a lot. It was toasty and creamy and I'd have been hard pushed to differentiate between this and Champagne in a blind tasting. Fool your friends for the modest price of €20

The main tasting was divide into the sections by varietal; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.

The Chardonnays

2009 Innocent Bystander Chardonnay (€14-99) - Big fruity nose, quite acidic and citrusy on the palate. Not subtle but tasty.

2009 PHI Chardonnay (€32-95) - Lovely, much more depth of flavour, less sharp and a bit minerally. Twice the price of the wine above though.

2008 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Chardonnay (€30-00 - pictured) - Best chardonnay of the night for me. Lots of fruit, big round flavours, smooth and a huge finish.

2006 Yering Station Chardonnay (€18-99) - Soft and creamy, again lots of acidity here.

The Pinot Noirs

An interesting tidbit from Phil - "Pinot Noir expresses its origin ruthlessly" i.e. you can't make Burgundy anywhere else. Terroir is King.

2009 Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir (€14-99) - Sweet on the nose, quite acidic with some nice berry fruit. Good value at this price.

2009 Shelmerdine Pinot Noir (€22-95) - We all loved this. With some gentle acidity, this was oaky, smokey and very long. Very good value for this complex wine.

2008 William Downie Yarra Valley Pinot Noir (€49-99 - pictured) The star of the night for me. This guy only makes Pinots, nothing else, and it shows. A supple perfumed nose, raspberry fruit and some gentle tannins made this one special. The most Burgundy like - and yes, also the most expensive, I'm not a cheap date.

2008 Yering Station Pinot Noir (€18-99) - Not bad, plummy and oaky. Perhaps suffered in the tasting from following the William Downie.

The Shiraz's

2008 Innocent Bystander Shiraz (€14-99 - pictured) - A gem, with 2% Viognier this was sweetish but not sickly, very tasty. Phil maintains this is the only Shiraz on the night to taste of Pink peppercorns, as opposed to white.

2007 De Bortoli Shiraz Viognier (€30-00) - A little bigger and rounder than the Innocent Bystander but not enough to justify doubling the price, in this blogger's opinion.

2006 Yering Station Shiraz Viognier (€18-99) - perfectly fine but I didn't think it was as special as the brochure made out. Tasty and rich though.

2004 Harry's Monster Giant Steps - (€18-00) - This is a very unusual blend of 25% of each of the following, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Petit Verdot (I think). This was fantastic; big, bold, fruity, tannic. I'd love to get more of this but I don't think it's imported to Ireland, boo!

Lastly we had a 2009 Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato, which I thought (sorry Phil), was vile. I do like me a sweet wine but I just couldn't get behind this highly original concoction. However I was definitely was in the minority, so what do I know.

We then had supper accompanied by a 2008 Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris and a 2006 Little Yering Shiraz Viognier. They were both fine, I wish I could tell you more about them but by this time I was famished so I concentrated more on the grub than the vino, apologies.

I did learn, however, than Pinot Gris (or Grigio) is a red grape. But when the juice is left in contact with the skins, the result is foul, hence Pinot Gris (or Grigio) grapes normally make white wines only.

Big thanks to John and Phil for a very enjoyable evening in the Yarra Valley.

**Update 1 - Kevin Ecock has posted this entry as a guestpost on his blog, thanks Kevin.

**Update 2 - Thanks to John McD for the images above.

1 comment:

  1. More Informative & Superb pictures and all feeling Good !! Joyous !!
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