Two notable wines this week. a great value from Australia from Jeff Siegel, who is always on the lookout for affordable and delicious wines for the table. And a classic nod to luxury from Bear Dalton with his homage to the Mondavi-Rothschild venture in Napa. Happy weekend!
The epic decline in the Australian wine industry has been well documented; the wineries that have survived have done so because they have been that much better than the rest of the business
Case in point is Yalumba, which managed to avoid the excesses on both the high and low ends over the past two decades and has emerged as an example of what a post-modern Aussie winery can be. Jane Ferrari, who tours the world for Yalumba, told me the effort wasn’t always a lot of fun, but that the fifth-generation family business was the better for it.
One improvement is better distribution, so that we can buy the wines in more places in the U.S. The shiraz ($10, purchased), a red blend with a bit of viognier to add interest, has been difficult to find in Dallas. That always annoyed me because Yalumba’s Y series has terrific cheap wine.
The shiraz is an Australian wine that one can actually drink without taking a nap between glasses. It’s still big and juicy (lots of black fruit and 14 1/2 percent alcohol), but both are well under control. Missing is the ashy aftertaste that so many of these wines have, and that makes them so difficult to like. It’s a red meat wine, but you can enjoy it without food. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2013 Hall of Fame.
OPUS is a consistent personal favorite Napa Valley Cabernet-based red. It fits in with my other favorites such as Araujo, Quintessa, Dunn, Snowden, Oakville East, Kenefick, Shafer, The
Fourteen, Reynold’s Family Reserve, etc. in that the flavor of ripe (but not over-ripe) Cabernet comes through with its tobacco, cedar, black pepper nuance intact. It does not taste of chocolate or chocolate syrup. It is elegant, balanced, and has the acidity to go the distance. This is what Cabernet-based Napa Valley red wine is all about and what current wave of ripeness and extraction hounds have gotten too far away from. If this is old school, I guess that makes me an old school kind of guy. Oh, and I’ll take that steak to go with it rare-to-medium-rare with a nice crust on it.
OPUS ONE, Napa Valley, 2009 ($205)
A blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6%, Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, and 1% Malbec macerated for 20 days (including fermentation) and aged 17 months in all new French oak barrels. Bottled un-fined at 14.5% AbV one year prior to release. Sensory: Deep-purple-black in color with well formed legs that stain the glass; dry, medium-full-bodied with a fresh balance and chewy but well-integrated phenols (tannins). Supple, juicy, beautifully balanced. Offers red and black fruit with notes of tobacco, spice, black pepper, cedar. Dusty oak and earth. Lovely integration. Elegant. Rich but very approachable with a classic dusty feel in the mouth. YUM. 97+. In the short term, a splash through a decanter wouldn’t do it any harm. Neither would serving it in large glasses that allow for some vigorous swirling. Longer term, this 2009 Opus is a wine with a demonstrated track record that will easily repay aging for twenty or more years.