11 October 2006

Notes on the Yalumba & NegociantsUSA wine tasting at the Charleston Grill
This weekend Alex and I, his girlfriend Raiessa and my friend, Christine, went down to Charleston for a tasting, arranged by Carolina Wine Source, of Australian and New Zealand wines. One may notice a distinct lack of my sweetheart, Leigh. While she was my first choice of companion she, sadly, had obligations out of which she couldn't wriggle.

Among the twenty-something wines there, two to three stood out as being quite to my taste. Many of the available wines were attention-getting to varying degrees, however. The average prices of these wines exceed that of anything on our by-the-glass list but I may add one or two to the by-the-bottle list. I don’t think all of us agreed on any one wine that captured our cumulative fancy, but the ones notable enough to withstand the memory-dulling properties of several “tastes” of wine are as follows:
- Mesh Riesling, Eden Valley, 2006. This was a dry, fruity Riesling that reminded me a bit of some German Rieslings I’ve had. Biggish nose and lots of lime and citrus to the mouth feel. This was vibrant with a nice zing of acidity.
- Yalumba Viognier, “The Virgilus” 2004 Eden Valley This is the closest to a wine that raised all of our eyebrows. It was a clean, crisp and dry viognier that didn’t have that sweet banana quality so many New World viogniers tend to have. It had a nice, full body and I got some honeysuckle notes to it.
Sparkling Rose
- Jansz Brut Rose (NV) Tasmania.
Clean and crisp with a nice fizziness to it. I haven’t had a lot of sparkling roses but the ones I’ve had I’ve enjoyed (and are supposed to have been quite good) and this one was just as delicious as any of them.
- Yalumba Hand-picked Grenache “Tricentenary” 2004 Barossa. Neither Christine nor I particularly cared for this one (we’d meant to dispose of what was left in our glasses, actually, but we started talking about something and accidentally finished it in an instinctive, at-a-party tipping of the glasses) but Alex spoke highly of it. It was an intense, bright and fruity nose and a soft mouth feel.
-Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon “The Menzies” 2002 Coonawarra. It was rich yet had a wonderfully clean finish. That’s about all I remember about this one but its finish was so different it was difficult to forget.
-Yalumba “Hand Picked” Shiraz-Viognier 2004 Barossa. I like Cote-Rotie-style blends and this one was quite good. It filled the mouth very well and was nicely complex. Interestingly, this is the only blend that made an impression on me. Usually I prefer blends to straight varietals.
- Yalumba Shiraz “The Octavius” 2002 Barossa. The first of the two wines Christine and I walked away having really enjoyed. It was well-layered and rich without being the jammy Aussie Shiraz to which I’ve grown so accustomed. As interesting as this wine was I would‘ve assumed it was a blend. Naturally, this was the most expensive wine shown, weighing in at $70 - wholesale.
- Jim Barry Shiraz “The McCrae Wood” 2002 Clare Valley. The was the favorite of the afternoon for Christine and me, mostly on account of its bouquet. There was a touch of eucalyptus to it and, this was the best part, it had a distinctly fatty, sausage-like quality. The body itself was quite nice, weighing in at about medium-bodied and it was well-balanced with a subtle, but effective, acidity and a smidge of pepper. I bought a couple of bottles of it and, if I still like it on second tasting, I’ll add it to the by -the-bottle list.

The major quality many of these wines shared was restraint. So frequently the New World wines are eager to show their grapes as very fruit\-forward and ripe, which can often yield a nice wine but it’s a quality that tires my palette very quickly. Many of these wines ran counter to my expectations, with Shirazes being the most interesting when it’s usually, for me, one of the least.

If you’ve read this far you might be wondering why I bothered writing all of this if I’m not going to carry any in any real sense. First, I did genuinely enjoy a number of these wines and, if you happen to be out and about and see them in a store or on a listing, I’d support their purchase. Second, I suppose I’m assuaging some guilt I may feel for going and not having the room or the funds to carry many. I guess if I at least spread the word I’ll be doing something positive for the company. Third, it gives me an excuse to post photographs.

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