Session 7: an alternative view
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The Yalumba winery

So we were off to Yalumba to taste something a bit different. One of Yalumba’s winemakers, Louisa Rose, and winewriter Max Allen were the comperes of this session.

Max Allen

Max is a champion of diversity. ‘A diet based on just a few varieties is boring,’ he says. He’s been the chief judge at the Alternative Varieties show in Mildura for the last five years. The wines here were selected as previous Gold medal or trophy winners from the show, or from Max and Louisa’s experience.

Louisa Rose

Louisa explained how Yalumba have a vine nursery in which they grow and propagate vines to sell around Australia. They also have a good system for getting wines imported and through quarantine.

This set of wines was interesting, but a slightly mixed bag. I found plenty to get excited about, though.

The session, held in a converted storage tank


2008 Henschke Littlehampton Innes Vineyard Pinot Gris, Adelaide Hills
Pinot Gris isn’t really all that alternative in Australia, with almost 3000 hectares planted. This has a fresh, grapey nose with some richness and a hint of smoke and minerals. The palate is nicely focused and textured with good freshness and minerality. Quite grapey and attractive. 90/100

2008 Delatite Pinot Gris Upper Goulburn
Distinctive minerally, smoky edge to the grapey fruit. Almost Chenin-like with some dry straw notes. Generous, lush palate with broad texture and good acidity. A distinctive plump style with a savoury finish. 90/100

2008 Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier, Eden Valley
Really exotic, perfumed nose with fat peach and pear notes. Sweet and intense with a floral lift. The palate is beautifully textured with broad but focused peach and apricot fruit. Nice crystalline fruit quality and good acidity. Great balance. 93/100

2006 Castagna Ingénue Viognier, Beechworth
Slightly weird baked apple and herb characters. A bit sherried and syrupy. The palate has sweet boiled fruits character. Soft without real focus. A shame – I really love the Castagna reds. 82/100

2008 Giaconda Aeolia Roussanne, Beechworth
Very rich, grapey, herby nose with some tropical fruit notes and herbs/straw. The palate is rich and bold with a grapey, peachy, pear fruit character. Textured, intense and complex. A rich style with lovely intensity. 92/100

2008 Dal Zotto Arneis, King Valley
Very fresh, bright and mineralic on the nose. Piercing with just a hint of lime, otherwise its more mineral than fruity. The palate is fresh, pure and precise with transparent lemon fruit and some herbiness. Quite a distinctive wine with a really interesting texture. 92/100

2008 Crittenden Estate Los Hermanos Albariño, Mornington Peninsula
Albarino in Australia has recently been shown to be Savagnin/Traminer. Taut, subtly herbal nose is quite tight knit. The palate is fresh with an attractive herby quality. Taut and mineral and structured on the palate with a savoury finish. 89/100

2008 Spinifex Lola Semillon/Marsanne/Viognier/Ugni Blanc/Grenache Blanc/Vermentino, Barossa Valley
Intense savoury nose with some mineral notes. The palate is firm and quite dense with a savouriness to it. 89/100

2008 Quealy Senza Nome Tocai Friulano, Mornington Peninsula
Rounded, aromatic, fruity nose with notes of grapes, herbs and florality. The palate is dry and herby with a savoury character. There’s a bit of a disconnect between the nose and the palate, and it finishes slightly bitter. 87/100

2008 Coriole Fiano, McLaren Vale
Volatile on the nose. Fruity, slightly herby palate is a bit weird, with some warmth on the finish. 82/100

2008 R Wines Mod Gamay, Geelong
Fresh nose of rhubarb and herbs, with some sweet sappy cherry fruit. The palate is herby and green but also has some sweet fruit. A distinctive sappy, herby style of wine that’s weird, but I like it. No additions of anything here – even sulfur dioxide. 90/100

2007 Greenstone Vineyard Sangiovese, Heathcote
The first Sangiovese made in Australia with the new Sangiovese clones from Tuscany. Intense spicy, savoury nose with sweet warm fruit and some herbiness. The palate is herby, warm and spicy with sweet and sour characters. Sweet fruit, but also some cherry and plum sourness. A distinctly savoury style with some warmth. 89/100

2007 Gemtree Vineyards Bloodstone Tempranillo, McLaren Vale
This is a high pH variety, and some winemakers make the mistake of adding too much acid. This is pH 3.94! There’s a strange, rather nervous green pepper and spice edge to the dark fruits nose. The palate is savoury and meaty with a firm spiciness backing up the fruit. Quite tannic. Plummy and savoury with a grippy finish. Lovely intensity, and made with no additions save a little sulfur dioxide at bottling. 90/100  

2002 Hewitson Old Garden Mourvèdre, Barossa Valley
Earthy, savoury edge to the nose. Spicy palate is earthy and fading. It’s a bit dried out: not without interest, but it would probably have been better younger. 87/100

2006 Arrivo Lunga Macerazione Nebbiolo, Adelaide Hills
Made by Peter Godden, who has amazing attention to detail. From eight clones, this spends 72 days on skins. Pale cherry red colour with a bricking rim. The nose is savoury and spicy with cherries and herbs, as well as a hint of ginger. The palate is savoury and drying with firm tannins and high acidity. It’s lively and fresh with real interest. A remarkable wine with some dried cherryish fruit and also firm structure. 94/100

2007 Luke Lambert Wines Nebbiolo, Yarra Valley
40 days on skins. Open cherry fruit nose with a herby, sappy edge. Distinctive and fresh with some strawberry jam notes. The palate is elegant and open wit sweet jammy fruit and relatively soft structure. Ripe, sweet and open: the friendly side of Nebbiolo. 92/100

1998 Pizzini Nebbiolo, King Valley
Wonderful nose: evolved, earthy and with a bit of old wine character. The palate is mature, earthy and spicy with some lovely mellow cherry fruit. Elegant and full, this is still tannic. Delicious, but ageing fast. 91/100

2005 Boireann Tannat, Granite Belt
Deep coloured. Sweet, ripe, smooth liquer-like blackberry fruit nose. Fresh fruity palate with nice focused raspberry and blackberry fruit, backed up by firm tannins. Clean and fresh with nice definition. 90/100

2006 Cobaw Ridge Lagrein, Macedon Ranges
Sweet, intense, brooding dark fruits nose with a lifted, spicy edge to it. The palate has some ginger spice with tight cherry and plum fruit, as well as good acidity. Fresh, fruity and peppery, but the ginger note is quite strong. 89/100

2007 First Drop Minchia Montepulciano, Adelaide Hills
Sweet blackberry and raspberry fruit nose with some toasty, roasted oak notes. The palate is smooth and lush but has a spicy edge to the fruit with some oak showing. A forward, intense, bold style that needs to settle down a bit. 88/100  

Landmark Australia
Visiting the Australian Wine Research Institute
Session 1 - Regional Classics
Session 2 - Riesling 
Session 3 - Shiraz and Blends
Session 4 - Historical Perspective
Session 5 - Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Blends
Session 6 - Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends
Session 7 - An Alternative View
Session 8 - Chardonnay
Session 9 - Pinot Noir
Session 10 - Blending the rules
Session 11 - Sparkling
Session 12 - Fortified

Wines tasted 06/09 
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