Monday, 11 April 2011

Wine Review: Yangarra Estate, Mclaren Vale Shiraz (2007)

Yangarra Estate, Mclaren Vale Shiraz (2007) Review
Price: Approx £15 per bottle
Availability: Limited production, independent merchants

Having first been directed to this Yangarra Estate Mclaren Vale Shiraz by a long time friend who declared it "the best wine" he had ever had and upon further investigation discovering it had been awarded 93pts by James Halliday, I was a little sceptical of whether this Yangarra would live up to the hype. Just another bottle of Australian Shiraz one could suggest - a bit more expensive than many of the benchmark £10 Aussie Shirazs out there (think D'Arenberg or Brown Brothers) but just another Shiraz. In fact, what I discovered in that first bottle of Yangarra was one of the most complete and balanced examples of Australian Shiraz I had drunk. Certainly more than just another Shiraz and certainly more than enough to convince me to get hold of one of the 8200 cases produced of the 2007 vintage to see how it would measure up!

Australia has been famed for it's Shiraz pretty much ever since wine started to be exported with big, gutsy, spicy Shiraz being grown across much of the country, but the real home of top quality Australian Shiraz is the Mclaren Vale and this is where this Yangarra Estate wine hails from. Approximately 35kms south of Adelaide the Mclaren Vale was originally a hub for cereal crops although since the first grapes were planted in 1838 increasing numbers of these cereals have been ripped up and replaced with vines. Much of the Mclaren Vale is elevated which helps generate the maritime breezes that run from these peaks down to the sea some 40 kilometres away.

The Yangarra Estate is located in the Blewitt Springs sub region of McLaren Vale. With 250 acres of vines spread amongst 420 acres of creeks, native vegetation and nature corridors the estate sits at the north-eastern extreme of the Willunga Basin at the foot of the South Mount Lofty Ranges.

Yangarra is an aboriginal word meaning "from the earth". Devoted to minimal intervention in viticulture and winemaking, the desire at Yangarra is to produce wines that are the most brilliant possible reflection of the Estate's unique terroir and that also provide a profound sense of place.

Winemaker Peter Fraser is a more traditional winemaker than many Australians, eschewing "numbers on a piece of laboratory paper" for tradition, "experience and bravery to let nature have her way". The bottles of the Yangarra Estate reflect this ethos in being a beautiful Burgundy shape (screw cap closure) with a plain yet classy label displaying the vineyards name and a representation of one of the estate's old bush vines.

In the glass the Yangarra Estate Shiraz is a deep, rich, plum colour with a degree of rustiness towards the rim representing the wine's 18 months in French Oak (30% of which is new oak for each vintage). After swirling the wine, the legs are impressive (although nowhere near as significant as some Australian wines these days) coming in at a healthy 14.5% in alcohol.

The nose is all about almost sweet blackberries, cherry and spices. Approachable, open and enveloping it is without a doubt a new world representation of the Shiraz grape and is more fruit-driven in it's character than some of it's more black pepper led compatriots.

In the mouth, the Yangarra Shiraz is rich and reminiscent of cassis in it's almost syrupy sweet fruit. Spice bubbles into the end of an incredibly long flavour which takes an age to die on the tongue. Tannins are soft and integrated in a wine which is absolutely jam-packed with flavour but beautifully balanced.

I love this wine and there are few Shiraz's which are as enjoyable either alone or with some food as this brilliant Yangarra Estate, Mclaren Vale Shiraz.

Yangarra Estate, Mclaren Vale Shiraz (2007)

Score: 93/100 - A thoroughly excellent wine. Benchmark stuff.

Value for Money: 7/10 - Some lesser wines seem distinctly over-priced at this level - not this wine though!