Forgive the clickbait title, but that was how the ‘Yves Cuilleron vs Australia’ tasting I went to today was pitched.
This event, organised by the local Cuilleron distributors, saw 4 of Yves Cuilleron’s finest wines up against some likely Australian competitors in a cross hemisphere deathmatch. Or such.
I truth, it wasn’t really like that at all. The Aussie picks didn’t even look similar to the Rhone wines (odd choices I thought) and we didn’t learn much other than taste some nice wines with the winemakers in attendance. As a deathmatch it never really got going.
Still, this was an interesting tasting just to remind about styles – particularly in the reds. The two ’14 Cuilleron Syrah looked every bit the cool vintage northern Rhone-ish, with their emphasis on meaty complexity and acidity. By contrast, both the Aussie wines looked overripe and overblown – typecast Aussie Shiraz and typecast Rhone reds to match. Also, this tasting again reminds that if you think French wines are always inherently better than Australian equivalent then you’re misguided (at best). That said, I’d love some of the Condrieu in the cellar…
Extra bits for context in italics. Notes as written earlier today.
Domenica Beechworth Roussanne Marsanne 2015
Barrel matured in old oak for 10 months. I retried this at the end of the tasting and it looked much better. The ’14 Shiraz is a winner for that matter too.
Somewhat muted nose. Just a little honey and lemon marmalade lurking underneath. Firm, somewhat alcoholic. Too alcoholic? Grasping at straws beyond the warmth and phenolics for now. There’s wine in there, but it will take some time to reveal itself. Very serious. 17/20, 90/100+
Yves Cuilleron St Joseph ‘Lyseras’ 2015
Marsanne Roussanne 50/50. Yves says ‘The Roussanne is more fruity, the Marsanne is more round. Matured in barrel and large foudre.
Ginger and vanilla with a whiff of sultana. Lovely spiced peach palate, it’s quite subtle really, building up through the mid palate. Again, just a little warm, but it adds textural layers. Nice wine, if a way off ready. 17.7/20, 92/100+
Tim Smith Eden Valley Viognier 2016
Tim believes in three picks for this Viognier – slightly underripe, ripe and overripe. That final pick tends to deliver ‘apricots on steroids’ but usual for giving varietal character.
Fragrant. Lots of peach skin ripe fruit. Sweet fruit but lots of acidity too. This feels modern and fresh, sweet fruited but not flabby. This is rather delicious; a proper balancing act of fruit and acidity. Authentic arietal Viognier and classy as hell. A different shape to the Cuilleron, but it’s juiciness arguably made it a better drink. 18/20, 93/100.
Yves Cuilleron Condrieu ‘Vertige’ 2014
Different style here compared to Yves’ other ones. A ‘Condrieu for ageing’ that spends 16 months in barrel.
Again with the milky raisins. This is a firmer, rather serious style. The alcohol is just a little intrusive, giving sweetness too. Nice creamy texture, though it’s not the easiest wine – it’s so firm and extractive. Impressively deep and yet somewhat ungenerous wine for now. The finish is rather hard too. High quality but not pretty. Wow it has volume of flavour underneath though. Every time I came back this delivered more joy, and ultimately – in 2 years time – it will be a winner. Close choice between the Viognier wines as the picks of the tasting. 18.1/20, 93/100+.
Kay Brothers Hillside McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015
21 months in oak. So out of place in this lineup.
Very much a McLaren Vale Shiraz. Slightly overripe plums and some flashy vanilla bean oak. Glycerol sweetness, firm acidity and sweet fruit through the edges. Big impact, but the firm, lightly overripe and overly acidified style is just a little raw. Big, but it’s a bit of an attack, complete with drying oak tannin and so much sweetness of fruit. That palate sweetness is too much, the acid too much. All of it. Almost tries too hard. 16.8/20, 89/100.
Yves Cuilleron St Joseph ‘Les Serines’ 2014
50% new oak and it shows.
Red apple in there but otherwise this is a slow burner, structurally this is almost sour. Has a distinct natural acidity too it. Balance is very good, it’s very spicy and not fruity in any way – acid shaped. Cool vintage wine and built for the future. Classy cool year Rhone wine that will only get better. 18/20, 93/100+
Yering Station Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2014
Riotous black licorice. A real expanse of almost tarry fruit. Big wine for the Yarra! Plushly textured and black, it’s hard to pick this as Yarra Shiraz though it’s super polished. Massive volume, but it’s too ripe; lacks a little delineation to be truly great. Impressive intensity though which transforms this from average to very good. Gee it would be a better wine with less! 17.7/20, 92/100.
Yves Cuilleron Cote Rotie ‘Madinere’ 2014
100% Syrah. A middling bottle?
Merde! Very secondary and anything but a big and ripe style. Long termer. Lots of acid. Dandelion and black pepper on the nose. Those tannins are formidable. Cool, spicy, not voluptuous and arguably hard going. Look it’s going to live, but does it have he fruit to match the acid and tannins? It could do with some Viognier as it is an angular and sullen wine. The longer I looked at this, the more brackish it looked. 17/20, 90/100+