2002 Yangarra Estate “Old Vine” Grenache, McLaren Vale, Australia

Yangarra is Aboriginal for “from the earth” and was chosen as the name of the vineyard because of the magic that seems to be required to make these old Australian vines grow in the sandy soil with no irrigation. Explains winemaker Peter Fraser:

“McLaren Vale is a bounteous basin washed by the pristine Gulf St. Vincent. Ten miles from its water lies a hillock of 60 million year old sands, jokingly called “The Beach.” It’s actually the weathered remnant of a long-gone mountain range, revered for the earthy wholesomeness it feeds our 60 year old vines.

These vines are bushy and wild (check out the photo on their Web site) and with heavy pruning and low-yield style management they produce fruit of astounding richness.

Yangarra is owned by (gasp!) Kendall-Jackson but that doesn’t stop them (wink) from producing several small production, high quality wines under their Estate label, along with much higher quanitity wines under their “Appellation” and “Yangarra Park” labels. Under the Estate label, only 600 cases of this Grenache were made, along with 900 cases of a Rhone style blend, and 4000 cases of Shiraz.

It’s interesting to compare this wine with the Turkey Flat old vine Grenache that I posted about last week. They are two completely different interpretations of this grape, both a testament to the difference of their growing conditions as well as the winemaking for each. The Turkey Flat wine is a tight expressive wine that demonstrates its complexity through texture and a medly of redcurrant syle flavors. This wine is something else entirely, an explosion of particular flavors that I haven’t ever experienced in a wine.

Tasting Notes:
In the glass this wine is disguised as a typically ruby colored wine. But get your nose anywhere near your glass and watch out, as your senses are assaulted by rich aromas of tobacco, licorice, and (I swear) grape Kool Aid. Now for those who are saying to themselves that grape Kool Aid is the LAST thing they would want from their wine, I totally agree, but there’s just a hint of it and I’ll be damned if it isn’t really pleasant. That particular flavor also exists in the body of the wine, embedded in a mixture of other flavors including black rasberries and light spices, underscored with slight tannins. I was too taken aback by the body of the wine to notice the finish.

Food Pairing:
Who knows exactly what this would go best with (I drank it this week with spinach and goat cheese pizza). I’ve never encountered this particular flavor profile before, but as a rule I find that these sorts of fruit flavors go really well with charred spicy stuff off of the grill. Next time I’m going to try it with grilled jerk chicken.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $18 !!

A friend (a very kind one) brought this along to a dinner this week, the fruits of a recent trip Down Under. A little poking around on the Internet, however, shows a couple of places that we can pick it up in the States (probably thanks to the marketing and distribution juggernaut that is Kendall-Jackson). Try Froogle. Or if you live in San Francisco, you can race me down to The Wine Club, where they have 8 bottles left.