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Essential Australian Wine

Yalumba was making wine 11 years before the Civil War started—and they're still one of the essential Aussie brands for wine lovers.

Yalumba Bush Vines Grenache 2012 $25

The first time I tasted this wine we were deep in the throes of the Aussie Shiraz love affair that dominated the wine world over decade ago. Even in those heady times, it was clear that Yalumba was a wine company that did things differently. First off, even though they sold their fare share of Shiraz, they also made a concentrated effort to try out grapes heretofore not associated with Australia. They almost singlehandedly popularized Viognier as a stand alone varietal for the average wine drinker. But it was their continued use of Grenache that endeared them to me. The varietal, long associated with the Southern Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, had once been the most widely plated grape in Australia, but the Shiraz boom caused most vintners to discard it entirely in favour of the next big thing. But not Yalumba—not only did they not pull up their Grenache but they continued to promote it in their export markets.

It did—and still does—share some characteristics with Shiraz—it can be boozy and it can be big and when it’s grown in bulk it can be dull and sweet. But when grown in low yields on old vines it can be something special. The gnarled vines that produce this wine are in the 30-70 year old camp (with some evidently dating to 1898) and the wine springs from them has a wonderful freshness with secondary notes a leather and tobacco that you rarely get even in a quality Shiraz. Better it’s consistent from vintage to vintage. How do you stick around for 165 years as a winery? By making wines like this.

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