Wine notes

May 5th, 2024Wine notes

Winemaker Peter Fraser from Yangarra Estate in the McLaren Vale is passionate about some grape varieties you might not be too familiar with.

with Clive Hartley

Yangarra’s Rhône Crusade

Winemaker Peter Fraser from Yangarra Estate in the McLaren Vale is passionate about some grape varieties you might not be too familiar with.

His white wine is simply called ‘Blanc’ and is a blend of grenache blanc (80%) with splattering of roussanne, bourboulenc, clairette, grenache gris and piquepoul blanc.

All these varieties originated in the southern Rhône Valley and Yangarra planted them in 2014.

“These white grapes have a huge potential in the McLaren Vale as they like a warm coastal climate and are late ripening, in fact, last year we picked piquepoul later than our red wines,” Peter said.

Piquepoul blanc has been picked up by other producers such as Coriole and Lloyd Brothers. Both wines are highly recommended.

The Yangarra Blanc 2022 ($30) is not a fruity wine, but a fleshy, juicy, nutty wine with a lot of minerality. Grenache blanc and roussanne is also used to make their Ovitelli Blanc 2022 which is fermented and matured in a large ceramic egg. These eggs are a feature at Yangarra.

“Using ceramics gives the wine a sense of purity and brightness of fruit that is not achieved in stainless steel or oak. They allow air to penetrate, but not as much as a barrel does.”

A portion of the wine undergoes over 100 days on skins. The result is a fleshy, rich and complex wine that is firm and textured. It’s a more serious drink at $68 a bottle.

Yangarra Noir 2022 ($30) is another blend from the Rhône. This time they use grenache noir, carignan, cinsaut, counoise, shiraz and mourvèdre.

Blends are more fun than single grape varieties and this one is fruit driven with plums and floral notes. It’s a pleasant surprise to find a nice tannin spine in the wine that gives a bit more structure than one would expect.

Grenache is in the spotlight at the moment and when handled well, like at Yangarra, it makes wines similar to pinot noir or even nebbiolo. Sadly, Peter tells me it only represents 6% of plantings in the region.

“Grenache is drought tolerant and grows well in the sands of Blewitt Springs. There is currently a resurgence here and it will increase in plantings. Currently it has the highest grape price in the McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley.”

Yangarra Ovitelli Grenache 2021 ($80) is sourced from dry grown 1946 bush vine fruit that is fermented and aged in ceramic eggs. It has lifted aromas of red fruits and floral touches.

On the palate it is supremely elegant, textured with fine tannins and a long finish. These wines exemplify Yangarra Estate’s approach to winemaking. Their wines have flavour and texture with a lighter touch than most McLaren Vale wines.

Clive Hartley is an award-winning wine writer, educator and consultant. His 305 page full colour book Australian Wine Guide (7th ed) is available for purchase from Paradise Books in Daylesford or via his website – www.australianwineguide.com.au

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