Cool. Smooth. Yeah… Jazz up your Christmas with these rich Yarra Valley reds
We’re going out in style in 2023, swinging our attention to the coolest of cool-climate regions, Victoria’s Yarra Valley.
The accent is firmly placed on “premium” in this final column of the year, with the line-up of sophisticated reds in our deal of the week including one of Yarra Valley’s leading lights, the five-star TarraWarra.
Along with TarraWarra’s 96-point J Block Yarra Valley Shiraz 2019, which normally sells for $50 a bottle, you’ll find a smooth-drinking 2016 shiraz, a 95-point cabernet from one of the region’s most experienced winemakers and a multi-layered pinot noir.
If you love Yarra chardonnay, you also have the opportunity to add three bottles of TarraWarra’s outstanding 2018 estate chardonnay at the deal price of $25.99 a bottle.
The Yarra Valley was Victoria’s original wine region, with the first vines planted in 1838 at Yering Station, but its future was far from assured. Within a century there were no vines left after economic hardships, changing tastes and competition from other wine regions triggered a long-lasting decline.
It wasn’t until the 1960s and ’70s that Yarra Valley’s revival began, when Reg Egan from Wantirna Estate planted vines again and Dr Bailey Carrodus, a scientist with a penchant for innovation, produced the region’s first commercial wines from his Yarra Yering vineyard in 1973.
Carrodus’s pioneering vision – embracing the Yarra Valley’s cool climate to produce leaner, elegant styles at a time when bigger styles were in vogue – set the foundation for the region’s reputation today.
With over 80 vineyards operating throughout Healesville, Coldstream, Yarra Glen, Seville and Lilydale, the Yarra Valley is Australia’s premier cool-climate region, and is renowned for high-class chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.
Peter Simon has been making Yarra wines under his Terra Felix label for the past 20 years. “The complexity of the chardonnay and pinot that Yarra produces is special,’’ he says.
“I have a little vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula but I’d say the pinot noir we source from the Yarra Valley is every bit as good.
He says while Yarra chardonnay and pinot are widely regarded as being among Australia’s best, the valley’s cabernet is also exceptional. “It’s probably been a little underrated but there are layers of taste in Yarra cabernet that are really unique and absolutely beautiful,’’ he says.
Simon, who has worked in the wine game for 34 years, believes Yarra Valley’s climate is changing, potentially making wine growing “a little trickier”.
“It’s been wetter – strong humidity and torrential rain at times – and it will make growing grapes more challenging,’’ he says. “But as we know in the wine game, there’s always challenges to overcome.”
Aromas of strawberries, cherries, and raspberries mingle with earthy tones and hints of Christmas spice and sweet pastry. Cherry and marzipan flavours stream through the palate with hints of pepper and smoky wood. Firm tannins are balanced by the fruit and a fresh line of acidity drives to a lingering clean finish. Light and delicate. 13.3% alc; RRP $40 a bottle.
From one of Yarra’s leading five-star wineries founded by Marc and Eva Besen, who were recently added to the Yarra Valley Hall of Fame. Co-fermented with 2 per cent viognier and matured in new and seasoned French oak for 18 months. Described by Halliday Wine Companion’s Philip Rich as “super-impressive and accomplished Yarra shiraz with its Crozes-Hermitage-like aromas of dark fruits, freshly hung meat, black olive and both white and black pepper”. A rare chance to try a premium Yarra red at this mixed dozen price. 96 points from Halliday Wine Companion. 13.6% alc; RRP $50 a bottle.
Yarra cabernet at its elegant best from the highly respected Rob Dolan, who’s been crafting wines in the valley for 30 years. Shows vibrant blackcurrant and sweet cassis aromas, with touches of bay leaf and mint. Pure fruit-driven palate with a hint of black olive supported by grippy tannins and a tingling acidity that cuts through to a fresh finish. 16 months in French oak. Delicious. 95 points from Team Halliday and a red star for exceptional value. 13.5% alc; RRP $38 a bottle.
From a boutique vineyard free of chemical fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides comes this layered, fruit-rich syrah (or cool-climate shiraz), offering mulberry and plum flavours from a warmer vintage than usual. Medium- to full-bodied. Good acid and fine tannins keep the boat moving smoothly. Double gold at the Melbourne International Wine Show. Excellent value. 14.5% alc; RRP $35 a bottle.
YARRA DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $25.99 a bottle. SAVE $177 a dozen.
Hand-picked and whole bunch-pressed with about half the fruit fermented in tank for freshness and the other in new and seasoned French oak for texture. Great intensity with stone fruits, a touch of citrus and underlying cashew nut flavours. Creamy texture; subtle use of oak leads to a fresh, lingering finish. 95 points from James Halliday. 13.2% alc; RRP $34 a bottle.
Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.