In the modern era, where obvious oak is less desirable – even in full-tilt Barossa Shiraz – Yalumba’s Octavius seems like an outlier. I mean, the Yalumba Octavius Shiraz 2017 is matured for 23 months in French & American oak – including the famous Yalumba coopered 100-litre octave barrels – which seems like winemaking from another era. It comes sealed with some tree bark, too, just for more nostalgia.
What’s interesting is that this vintage of the wine formerly known as Oaktavius is not as oaky.
It’s much better balanced than in the past. There is still a background coffeed textural layer from wood, and oak tannins punctuate the slightly tart finish. But there is an unquestioned red berry fruit volume to match. It’s so cosseting in its plum fruit, and the barrel influence is not a sweetness – it’s a savouriness. I still think this is a wine of artifice, and I wonder if that fruit could do with less time in oak (and more big barrels). Less could be more. But less could be less (and Yalumba have other Shiraz releases that follow this route too). Also of interest, I found myself unconsciously drinking a glass of Octavius, which is a nod to the absolute quality (and the score matches this).
I’m intrigued, ultimately, about whether you’d buy Octavius – yay or nay?
Best drinking: now and for fifteen years easy. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $150. Yalumba website. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
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