"I could write six columns about Yangarra Estate and winemaker Peter Fraser and still have more to say, so please forgive apparent non-sequiturs. In my 2015 Wine Companion seven 2012 Yangarra Estate wines received between 94 and 97 points, all made conventionally.
The other day I tasted another eight wines, mainly from 2013, some also made conventionally, some not, involving the ceramic egg beloved of natural winemakers. The results were fascinating, so we communicated with each other by phone and email, and inevitably the eggs were the focus.
Says Fraser 'My initial interest was driven by sourcing a vessel that would not impart barrel character but would not have the “plainness” of a stainless steel vessel. I looked into concrete, but I feel the chemicals used in making concrete are not very friendly, and if you have to wax or epoxy them, you are taking a step backwards and not forward. The ceramic eggs are not porous, but have similar thermal properties to concrete or clay vessels. A staunch Biodynamic advocate would say the shape of the egg is very important, and say that the shape causes constant thermal movement. I understand the logic, but I have not seen evidence that the lees in fact move within the wine as some of the promotional literature suggests. Disregarding any of the hocus pocus of Eggs, we have been extremely happy with the results'.
This has special relevance for Rhone Valley red and white styles, and the Yangarra vineyards are also in play. Grenache, mourvedre and tempranillo are household red wines, but what about cinsaut, carignan, graciano, counoise and muscardin? All these are (or will be) planted at Yangarra by the end of the year. picpoul noir, terret noir and vaccarese are around the corner.
The white varieties open with roussanne, but what about grenache blanc, bourbelenc and picpoul blanc? All these will likewise be planted, although most (like the red varieties) on a trial basis. Watch this space.
2013 YANGARRA GSM – 95 POINTS
”A blend of 49% grenache, 29% shiraz and 22% mourvedre. Hand-picked, mechanically sorted, 50% whole berries, cold soak, open fermenters, plunged, wild yeast-fermented, kept on lees in 100% used French oak for 9 months. Brilliant hue; the wine effortlessly communicates its distinguished breeding, the medium-bodied palate with a silken line of fruit, then a thin coat of fine, savoury tannins. 1511 dozen made.”
2013 ROUX BEAUTE ROUSSANNE – 96 POINTS
“50% fills a 675l ceramic egg, foot-trodden and fermented on skins, remaining there for 120 days before pressing; the other 50% is pressed into a second ceramic egg and fermented off skins. The fresh varietal fruit is held in a distinct chalky/pithy embrace, the length and balance faultless. The fascinating question is how long it will live. 68 dozen made.”
2013 SMALL POT CERAMIC EGG GRENACHE – 96 POINTS
“Destemmed and mechanically berry sorted, 50% crushed, tipped into two 675l ceramic eggs. Fermentation occurs in the eggs; remains on skins for 120 days post-fermentation, the pressings not used. The colour is clear and bright; a perfumed bouquet, then a palate brimming with bright red fruits supported by a spider web of ultra-fine tannins. It is the perfume that is so extraordinary. Due for release June '15; 94 dozen made.”
This is an unedited version of the article "Yangarra yell" written by James Halliday for the Weekend Australian magazine."
James Halliday | www.winecompanion.com.au | 21st March 2015
2012 IRONHEART SHIRAZ – 97 POINTS
“You could serve this alongside any other South Australian shiraz, at any price or prestige level, and it would either hold its own or better it, even allowing for style preferences.
The Ironheart is a powerhouse. It’s saturated with dark, inky fruit, is grainy and grunty, and for all its churn and wealth it’s brilliant with balance. This is one for the deepest, darkest reaches of the cellar, to be forgotten for as long as you can hold out. The fact that it has herbal, spicy, coffeed notes pumping through its veins just compounds the attraction. In fact, for all that, it could even be argued that this wine has an elegance; or a ripped, muscular version thereof.” – Campbell Mattinson
2012 HIGH SANDS GRENACHE – 96 POINTS
“160 dozen made from the highest section of 1946 bush vine Grenache. No new oak. I like that they are making a statement about Grenache with the pricing.
This is a seriously good wine from sniff to swallow. Great depth of fruit here (raspberry and sour cherry mainly), sweet spices and earth, dried roses, all manner of layered aromatic complexity. Medium bodied, again the flood of deep ripe fruit that’s pure and fresh, rather than sweet or over-ripe. Acidity is firm, kind of like biting into fresh raspberry, and the tannin is pretty strict and dry, but gives the wine a forceful slaty texture and drives it along beautifully. Great wines have great length, and this is no exception. It’s a remarkable wine.” – Gary Walsh
2013 ROUX BEAUTE ROUSSANNE – 94 POINTS
“Born from an egg on a mountain top.
68 cases made with 50% popped into a 675 litre ceramic egg and fermented on skins and left for 120 days and 120 nights. The other half fermented off skins in a ceramic egg of the same size. The final blend was 60% skin and 40% non-skin, so you’d have to say Yangarra have a fair bit of skin in the game. Great to see the spirit of adventure happening in the McLaren Vale at the moment, at least in some quarters. Bottled September 2014.
Almond and honeyed florals, light pineapple and ripe lemon, aniseed. Velour tannin and milky texture, fresh pineapple acid tang, savoury chicken and nutty flavour in there too, but it presents as fresh and clean with an extra dimension of interest. Light grip on the finish and sour/savoury twang in the aftertaste. Fascinating wine.” – Gary Walsh
Our good friend Philip White has written up the Icon wines on his highly read blog DRINKSTER : The reviews are quite long so we won’t copy them all here, please check out the blog for full comments, a couple of highlights are below.
ROUX BEAUTE 2013, 93+++, “I don't know of any white wine like it. It's lush and calming and gentle, and then long and slow, with those dusty tannins drawing the wine to an extreme and drooly length.”
HIGH SANDS 2012 95+++, “The wine is austere and dry and velvety. It has great intensity in a supple, slender manner, and relentless dusty--no, it's sandy--tannin. So all at once it manages to tease and tantalise and give you a good solid whacking like you've never before had from a Grenache.”
IRONHEART 2012 94+++, “It's a surly, soulful, essence of Shiraz, dusty like the summer winds, irony like that smell of a rusted galvo shed in a sprinkle of rain, and all plum pudding below, oozing suety dough, partially-dried fruits, like glazed cherries, figs and molasses… All that aromatic complexity aside, the wine is dense yet elegant to drink.”
2013 YANGARRA OLD VINE GRENACHE – 4.5/5 Stars
“Yangarra's latest grenache and blends releases are a marvel, this from 60-plus-year-old vines on Blewitt Springs sandy soils nurtured into the winery with all the current techniques that let the grapes and location express themselves without being impeded. Gloriously plump and juicy with distinctive cold meat-like highlights — not unusual for the variety — with subtle exotic spices.” – Tony Love