Yalumba – doing it Cabernet Shiraz style
I’m always puzzled why Cab Shiraz isn’t more popular than what it is. Why isn’t Cab Shiraz, ‘our blend’, the national hero wine?
|Yalumba Cabernet Shiraz
Blending done good
There’s probably a whole swathe of answers as to exactly why, not least the unspoken Australian fear of blends, but really I’m not here to answer the question. Rather, I just want to talk about one Australian wine company who are flying the Cabernet/Shiraz flag with enthusiasm.
I’m talking about Yalumba, champions of Cabernet Shiraz and a general champion of a wine company. Yalumba epitomises the sort of medium sized, quality and value focused wineries that you’re always happy to support. One of the good guys, if you may, that aren’t really making ‘sexy’ styles (and can be rather old fashioned at times), but are more about consistency and heart. Which ties in nicely with the Cabernet Shiraz mission actually….
The following wines then are some of the more recent Cabernet Shiraz releases from Yalumba. All taste of the Barossa, all roughly adhere to the 60-40 Cabernet Shiraz split, all have lowish alcohol, all have oak as a key component to the wine and all will improve in the bottle, in some cases for decades. It’s a formula that seems to work very well judging by these reds, all of which you’d be happy to show people as good examples of Australian wines (at their pricepoints).
Yalumba ‘The Scribbler’ Cabernet Shiraz 2009 – 13.5% $20
A ‘youthful embodiment of The Signature’ according to Yalumba, which I’d say is reasonably accurate. On the first day it looked a little jubey and confected but by day too I was very impressed. Very.
Bright berried nose, really juicy and lifted. Dark and juicy it carries some oak richness on the nose which tends to fill things out underneath that somewhat simple red fruit juiciness. The palate – like Signature – is a chunky, chocolate oak edged and savoury style, if not quite as tannic or long as it’s obviously older brother.
Signature Lite this is, no question about it. For the dollars ($20ish) it’s really very impressive. Drink 2012-2015 17.6/91+
Yalumba ‘FDR1A’ Cabernet Shiraz 2008 – 13.5% $35
On the first day this was a much classier drink than the Scribbler, which looked rather mono-dimensional in comparison, but 24 hours later this just looked a fraction dessicated and 08 Barossan roasted. Interestingly, this is done with French and Hungarian oak whilst the rest of this little Cabernet Shiraz lineup sees mainly American. That itself imbues it with a subtlety that I think is quite attractive, with only the vintage letting the side down (the 06 iteration of this wine is a serious overachiever).
Dense and quite black, cola nut, capsicum and red fruit on the nose, this looks full and ripe and dark chocolate grainy. Lovely palate texture here shows probably the best integrated oak of this range, with a real dry savoriness that was very appealing. I still couldn’t quite conquer the somewhat overly dried, sweet but tannic style. Drink 2011 – 2015 17.3/90+
Yalumba ‘The Signature’ Cabernet Shiraz 2006 13.5% $45
Good Signature this. Buy with confidence. It’s very very young and feels every inch like a 20 year wine. Very Signature though, which means quite a dose of overt, grainy, chocolate toasty American oak on the nose. Lots of oak. Much more freshness on the palate however, which has that dark and dense, chewy cocoa powder and briar thing that marks a classic Barossan red, if an oaky one. Structurally it’s built upon a framework of power and tannins, built to last and built to just unfurl as it gets older. Interestingly it’s tight and vibrant through the finish too, with a balance and evenness through the back end that bodes very well indeed.. Serious wine this. Long termer +. Drink 2015 -2026 18.3/93+
Yalumba ‘The Reserve’ Cabernet Shiraz 2004 13.5% $120
Decadent wine. Impress your in laws at Christmas time decadent. A flattering wine that acts like an advertisement for Barossan reds ‘come to the Barossa and we’ll show you more wines like this’. What I like most is just how savoury it is, how perfectly ripe the whole package is. No excesses of alcohol, no overt sweetness, just proper deep dark choc oak fruit amalgam. Kudos indeed. Oh and The Reserve is actually a ‘best Signature barrels blend’ by the way, released only when the barrels really impress.
Heady nose on this. Very dense too, with lots of American oak still in residence. It’s evolving though, developing more wildness and interest to counter the rich choc toasty oak. There’s even more varietal Cabernet cedar too. The real joy is on the palate, which is regally tannic, dry and long, with a structure that is more ripe Bordeaux than Barossa. Firm, long and dry. Very dry. Those tannins are the clincher. Chewy, perhaps a little oaky but ultimately satisfying. Lengthy and quality framed.
A wine that looks and tastes like an expensive wine, there aren’t many question marks about the quality here… Drink 2012-2030 18.6/94+