Today I attended a tasting put on by ‘South Pack’ – a group of small, artisan Victorian producers, with a skew towards the Yarra Valley. South Pack includes Luke Lambert, the Lance family, Timo Mayer, Gary Mills of Jamsheed, Mac Forbes, Adam Foster of Syrahmi, William Downie, & David Chapman & Barney Flanders of Allies – it reads like a who’s who of the up and coming Yarra wine circuit.
It was refreshing to see so many young faces in the room – I’m still a few years off 30 and the average age in the room would be not far off mine – quite a rarity in the often stuffy and, dare I say it, ‘old’, wine industry. What was even more invigorating was to feel the passion in the room -these wine producers live, breathe and love wine, just like me. I would have loved to sit around and talk shop over a beer, but alas normal service had to resume.
So on to the wines. Sadly I only got around half the room, but I saw enough to get excited. I don’t think there was a a wine in the place that wasn’t handpicked, hand sorted and bottled unfined and unfiltered. There was wax capsules, diam corks, no new oak and a dominance of single vineyard bottlings.
To kick it off where the wines of Timo Mayer – all heavily worked and interesting, though i thought smoke taint was more than a little dominant in his 07 wines, giving them a somewhat hammy edge, particularly the Close planted Pinot & the Big Betty Shiraz. Still, the wines where all funky, characterful things, right down to the dry, orange coloured, Pinot based 08 Rose which was very French and very interesting.
Next off where the excellent Macforbes wines, all of which I enjoyed, though the Rieslings where just a little simple for me. The Pinots however are brilliant wines, spanning the Yarra sub regions of Gruyere, Coldstream & Woori Yallock. The 07 Woori Yallock is a sleeper – frost affected yields has turned this into a tight star of the future. I also liked the 06 Yarra Cabernet for its meaty, mildly herbaceous yet perfectly balanced palate. Average alcohol of the range? About 12%. And perfectly ripe at that.
Next off was the Jamsheed range, starting off with two bracing whites – a firm, fiercely dry and grippy Gewurztraminer of real style and appeal and a fragrant, minerally and tight Viognier. Even the Bistro level ‘Jose the Rose’ is all funky and complex – having gone through full malo and some barrel ageing. The highlight though was the Yarra Syrah – Savoury, complex, light to medium bodied, pepper and spice, lovely stuff. Glorious packaging to boot. Don’t miss the ‘La Syrah’ – perhaps the most out there $20 wine on the market…
Final stop was to see the other Luke Lambert red – the 07 Syrah. Now, I wasn’t overly taken with the simple 07 Neb, but the brand is exciting. The 07 Syrah again reminded me of that – a medium bodied Yarra red of polish and lightness that was more Pinot than Shiraz, but beautifully drinkable. 12.8% alcohol.
I left, wishing that more pompous English critics could experience the blatant terroirism shown by the hands on winemakers of this room.