Elegant Yet Powerful Aussie Bush Vine Grenache

Today’s Story: Yangarra Estate Vineyard

Yangarra Estate Vineyard is a single-vineyard Australian wine estate established in 1946 in the Blewitt Springs district of McLaren Vale, South Australia. The vineyard was planted by Bernard Smart and his father with unirrigated bush vine Grenache, and this fruit became highly coveted by local winemakers for years to come. The property totals 170 hectares (420 acres), though only 90 hectares (222 acres) of it are planted to vine and Grenache is the signature variety. There are also plantings of Shiraz, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Picpoul Noir, Clairette Blanc, and Counoise. Yangarra farms their vineyard adhering to organic and biodynamic principles, a practice they began in 2008 and received certification for in 2012. Yangarra’s viticultural philosophy helps improve the quality and sense of place in their fruit, which transfers to a winemaking philosophy that is both gentle but characterized by incredible attention to detail. Yangarra’s wines ferment spontaneously with natural yeasts, and they use a combination of amphoras, ceramic eggs, and large format oak foudres with the end result being wines that are true to variety and true to the terroir.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Ovitelli Grenache

100% Grenache; 14.5% ABV

The 2018 Ovitelli Grenache is pale ruby in color and nearly transparent. I decanted this for about an hour and drank it over the following 2 hours, though it didn’t really change a ton with air. The aromas are of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing strawberry, baked cherry, pomegranate, licorice, leather, and clay. The flavors are also of medium intensity, and the palate displays notes of baked plum, wild raspberry, blood orange, licorice, and dried green herbs. This dry red is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. This is a very fresh Grenache but it has a restrained power to it, and while it’s not incredibly complex right now it should develop nicely and is already very well-balanced.

Price: $50. For the price, I don’t think I can argue this is a great value wine but I would contend this is definitely worth the $50. It’s young no doubt, but this is already showcasing an elegance and quiet power that will bring pleasure for years to come. Very enjoyable.

Delicious, Small Production Australian Shiraz

Today’s Story: Coriole Vineyards

Coriole Vineyards is a third generation family owned and operated winery established by Hugh and Molly Lloyd in 1967 in the McLaren Vale region of Australia. At that time Coriole consisted of 12 acres of vineyards with Shiraz vines dating back to 1919, and the Lloyd’s released their first “Claret” wine in 1969. Though Shiraz is undoubtedly one of the varieties McLaren Vale is known for, Coriole spiced things up over the years by planting Sangiovese in 1985 which makes up 10% of the land under vine. Coriole consists of 25 different vineyards, made up of 65% Shiraz, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Chenin, 5 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Nero d’Avola, and the balance inclusive of Fiano, Grenache, Barbera, Mourvedre, and Montepulciano. The Lloyd family farms their vineyards adhering to organic practices and they are pending certification, while when it comes to winemaking itself they are largely traditional.

As the website is full of additional information, gorgeous pictures of the vineyards, and the full portfolio of wines, I encourage you to visit here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Lloyd Reserve Shiraz

100% Shiraz; 14% ABV

The 2016 Lloyd Reserve Shiraz is opaque medium purple in color. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of plum, blueberry, black cherry, cola, tobacco, graphite, cedar spill, tilled rocky soil, and cinnamon. On the palate, I get notes of spiced black plum, blackberry, black raspberry, black cherry, sweet tobacco, wet gravel, and light toasted oak. The purity of fruit here is striking. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, fine grained medium (+) tannins, and a long finish. 330 cases produced.

Price: $40 ($80 from the winery). I got this for an absolute steal and it’s worth every penny. This is a gorgeous, textbook modern Shiraz and even at $80 I would be tempted to give it a shot. I will certainly be buying more at $40!

Unique and Powerful Shiraz

Today’s Story: d’Arenberg

d’Arenberg (known as Bundarra at the time) was established in 1912 by Joseph Osborn in McLaren Vale after he sold his stable of prize winning race horses to purchase the property. They planted their first vineyards to 8 acres of Shiraz, though only 4 acres survived, and Joseph and his son Frank harvested their first vintage in 1913 and sold the fruit for £20 per ton. In 1927, Frank’s brother-in-law encouraged him to produce his own wine and, after studying winemaking at Ryecroft, he produced his first red table wine and port labeled Bundarra Vineyards by F. E. Osborn & Sons in 1928.

During WWII, Frank’s health deteriorated and he halted wine production in 1942 until his son d’Arry left school at the age of 16 to work at the family winery. d’Arry oversaw several great technological advances, including the use of McLaren Vale’s first rubber-tired tractor in 1946 and electricity in 1951. Several years later, d’Arry established his own wine label named for his late mother and adorned it with the family crest and signature red stripe. In 1965, the Bailey family who owned a well-established winery in Glenrowen, Victoria named Bundarra challenged d’Arry’s use of Bundarra so d’Arry decided to drop the name from his vineyard and wines.

Over the next couple years, d’Arenberg expanded with a second tasting room to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors and installed their own bottling line. During the 1970s, d’Arenberg rose to new heights by winning several awards for their 1967 Burgundy which proceeded accolades by their Rhine Riesling and Port. In 1984, d’Arry’s son Chester Osborn took over as chief winemaker and set about restoring traditional winemaking methods such as foot treading and basket pressing while eliminating fertilizer and minimizing irrigation in the vineyards to reduce yields. In 1988, d’Arenberg exported their Shiraz and Shiraz Grenache blend wines to Europe for the first time which marked another milestone in the brand’s global acceptance.

A man striving to reach new heights, Chester became one of the first to plant white Rhône varieties in McLaren Vale in 1995/1996 with 10 acres of Marsanne, 9 acres of Roussanne, and 14 acres of Viognier. Since then, Chester racked up an impressive resume of awards and trophies for both himself and the d’Arenberg winery. One of their highly awarded wines, The Dead Arm Shiraz, is what I am reviewing today and it was first released in 1993. Dead Arm is caused by the fungus Eutypa lata and affects old vines by slowly reducing one half (or arm) of the vine to dead wood. At most wineries, these vines are pruned, replanted, or abandoned but d’Arenberg sustains these low yielding vines to produce powerful and concentrated wines. The fruit for this wine is kept separate throughout the winemaking process and given extra care before being passed through a gentle roll crusher in small batches before foot treading and basket pressing. Primary and secondary fermentation is accomplished in used French and old American oak barriques and the wine is aged for 20 months on lees. Chester and his team select the best barrels for final blending and this is bottled with no fining or filtration.

Today’s Wine: 2009 The Dead Arm Shiraz

100% Shiraz/Syrah; 14.5% ABV

The 2009 Dead Arm is deep garnet in color and completely opaque. This demands an hour-plus to open up, but once it does the nose showcases aromas of blackberry, baked black cherry, redcurrant, licorice, smoke, chocolate, coffee, forest floor, underbrush, and charred red meat. Once on the palate, the wine offers notes of blackcurrant, juicy plum, cherry, tobacco, loamy soil, black pepper, wet crushed rock, mocha, tar, and oak. This is full-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish dominated by flavors of dark berries and char. The wine is powerful yet balanced with the structure to go at least another 5 years.

Price: $60 (though slightly cheaper overseas). This is an outstanding value that drinks like some of the “higher end” Shiraz out of Australia. Pair this with herb-roasted leg of lamb, barbecue spareribs, or strong hard cheeses.