2006 Yarra Yering, Merlot, Yarra Valley, Australia
About this WINE
Yarra Yering Vineyards
In 1969 Dr Bailey Carrodus founded Yarra Yering after a lengthy search for the perfect vineyard site. He chose deserted but promising territory near Coldstream in the Yarra Valley, Victoria. Today, Yarra Yering produces concentrated blends dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Italian and Portuguese varieties as well as elegant single variety Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot wines. The wines are in such high demand that the cellar door only opens for two days each year and most of the annual production is sold within the first hour.
Yarra Yering's philosophy is to make classic but elegant wines. They attribute their success to the outstanding quality of fruit that grows on their unique terroir. Despite the widespread Australian trend of the 1960s to adjust soil characteristics, Yarra Yering's vineyards of gravel and clay loam remained untouched, leaving them with pure soils high in natural minerals.
These, combined with the cool climate of the Yarra Valley, low-yielding old vines and no irrigation, have resulted in wines of very concentrated, pure fruit character with high natural acidity, fine minerality and exceptional longevity.
The blended wines are known simply by number. Dry Red No. 1 is Yarra Yering's original, structured Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blend with Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Dry Red No. 2 is a supple, Côte-Rôtie-style Shiraz, with a touch of Viognier and Marsanne. The exact proportions of each blend are never revealed.
Single variety wines contain 100% of each named grape. The Underhill Shiraz came into being in the late 1980s after the neighbouring Underhill vineyard was acquired; this is a broad, muscular Shiraz similar to a Rhône Hermitage in style. Both the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay have beautifully pure fruit supported by perfectly balanced acidity and a subtle use of oak, while the Merlot is a voluptuous rarity indeed, with just a barrel or two made only in years when perfect ripeness has been achieved.
Last but not least is the Potsorts - Yarra Yering's innovative after-dinner speciality, made with indigenous Portuguese varieties and fortified in a Vintage Port style.
The legendary Dr Carrodus sadly passed away in September 2008., leaving us with an Australian icon that delivers very special wines.
Victoria’s oldest viticultural area dates back to 1837. Initially it won admiration and trophies for its dry wines before losing out first to the fortifieds from South Australia, and then to the dairy cow. The 1960s saw its revival with Dr Bailey Carrodus founding Yarra Yering in 1969, closely followed by another medic, Dr John Middleton, launching Mount Mary in 1971.
Famous for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the region has attracted interest from sparkling houses, notably Domaine Chandon as well as from one or two corporates; Melbourne’s continued sprawl represents the biggest threat to this Victorian idyll.
The climate is cool maritime (it’s just 15 miles to the ocean), exposed to wind and rain with spring frosts a potential risk. The region’s warmer northerly aspects are preferred for viticulture. The best soils are underpinned by a low vigour, red-brown clay subsoil, while a significant swathe of the region is characterised by vigorous deep-red loam.
Recommended producers: Toolangi, Mount Mary
The most widely planted grape in Bordeaux and a grape that has been on a relentless expansion drive throughout the world in the last decade. Merlot is adaptable to most soils and is relatively simple to cultivate. It is a vigorous naturally high yielding grape that requires savage pruning - over-cropped Merlot-based wines are dilute and bland. It is also vital to pick at optimum ripeness as Merlot can quickly lose its varietal characteristics if harvested overripe.
In St.Emilion and Pomerol it withstands the moist clay rich soils far better than Cabernet grapes, and at it best produces opulently rich, plummy clarets with succulent fruitcake-like nuances. Le Pin, Pétrus and Clinet are examples of hedonistically rich Merlot wines at their very best. It also plays a key supporting role in filling out the middle palate of the Cabernet-dominated wines of the Médoc and Graves.
Merlot is now grown in virtually all wine growing countries and is particularly successful in California, Chile and Northern Italy.
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Yarra Yering was the creation of Dr Bailey Carrodus, a legendary, pioneering figure in Australian viticulture who sadly died in 2008. He planted an eclectic range of European grape varieties but was particularly successful with Bordeaux grapes and Syrah. Usually he would blend Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot but in 2006 made a wine exclusively from Merlot, not a grape which is widely or successfully planted in Australia. The aim is to produce something akin to a top Pomerol; the nose has an abundance of rich, plumy fruit with chocolate notes; on the palate the tannins are wonderfully ripe with a silky texture and the chocolate theme continues with hints of mocha too. Very long on the finish, impressively concentrated and well worthy of comparison to some of the great Right Bank Bordeaux wines.
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