Saucy Valentine’s Shiraz: Yalumba

I spent my long Vday/Prez day weekend on the chilly cape… mostly inside, keeping warm with good food, movies and, of course, wine!  My [most excellent] Yalumba 2007 Shirazboyfriend bought a Shiraz that’s worth a little review.  It’s actually very different from the reds I’ve reviewed so far- I’d argue the taste is a bit more complex- more going on than simply fruit.  It’s the Yalumba Shiraz-Viognier 2007 and I think it’s a dynamic wine worth trying, especially for the price!  It’s saucy,  fun and perfect for a winter, spicy (Vday?) evening meal.  🙂

Some general notes about Shiraz:
Shiraz is actually the same grape as the Syrah, which is its name in other parts of the world- specifically in France and Europe.
It’s a dark grape- meaning that is absorbs a lot of flavor from the soil in which its grown, so there’s not really a “typical” taste, except “full-bodied” (lots of flavor).
Shiraz can be had as a varietal (a wine from a singular grape) or blended (Cab Shiraz, for example).

So– the other part of this label is important.  This isn’t a straight-up Shiraz– it’s got a twist, the “Viognier.”  That’s actually a white grape… odd combo right?  The 2007 Yalumba Shiraz-Viognier is actually a new style of wine that’s becoming popular in Australia, which is where the Yalumba winery is located.   Something cool about this– it’s not actually a “blend.”  A blend is a combination of 2 already-made wines that a vintner combines to balance acidity, strength, weakness, et cetera.  Sometimes I feel that blends are a little bulky in taste– you can get the sense of the two or more varietals used but they don’t come together all that seamlessly, so the taste is overwhelming and not in a good way.  The Yalumba didn’t taste like that at all and part of the reason is that the Viognier is a tiny percentage (between 2 and 6%) added to the pressed grape juice before the wine is made- so it’s actually co-fermented.  The addition of white grapes at that point is supposedly to preserve the brightness of the red pigments during fermentation, as well as altering the flavors– bringing out, in this case, some of the pungent earthy tones, or that’s how I might describe them anyway.

Yalumba Review!
Look: Deep, plum-colored red (read: probably fruit-filled with some wood taste– that’s what makes it a little purple)
Smell: Big rush of blackberry, then floral and earthy (yep the last two combined? made it smell like… my lawn growing up, hydrangeas, grass and dirt- not in a bad way? organic-y)
Flavor: It was absolutely rich, full-bodied yummy. At first I took a sip and thought it tasted immensely of wood and oak. But I think I was just expecting more fruit and was surprised. When I took another sip (and read the label) I realized I wasn’t actually tasting an oakiness so much as an earthy, dark flavor that was a little more like tar, leather… or… tobacco! I know, nothing about that sounds appealing but, trust me, it’s a really good flavor to balance out a wine. It gives the wine a big richness that a simple fruity wine often lacks. The tobacco-ness gave some “legs” to the blackberry flavors that were also riding through the taste.
Texture: This was harder to define. I think part of the reason I could really taste the wine’s earthy tones was because the wine was a tad bitter on the tongue. That’s probably laymen’s term for a dry wine with a strong taste of its tannins (what the grapes’ skin adds).  I’d say its got some reckless abandon; there’s a LOT of flavor, but it lacks a clear path from start to finish.  I felt like the taste was a bit of a rollercoaster– meaning that it had lots going on, but was hard to tell whether the flavor or texture was going next.  To me this means it’s not a great standalone wine, but would work well to pair with bold foods, where the wine is a supplement instead of the main show.

Julia Uncorked Says: 80/100
Great deal for its price!  This was $9.99 on the Cape, and it retails for about $12 on average.  I had it with a big salad and some pasta with chicken.  I’m sure that it hangs tight with anything bold or flavorful, but I’d be hard pressed to say it would go well with anything as light as seafood, sushi or a brothy soup.  It’s a bold wine– with lots of flavors, but it needs something substantial to bring out its best qualities.

One Response to “Saucy Valentine’s Shiraz: Yalumba”

  1. Great little review! I too like this “blended” one, even though I’m having a love affair with grenache (as in Yalumba’s Bush Vine).

    If you’re looking for a interesting wine from Yalumba, their Wild Ferment (Chardonnay) is a must, absolutely beautiful on its own.

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