Yalumba Barossa Shiraz Viognier 2004 Tasting Notes
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Yalumba Barossa 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier 2004 Tasting Notes

I don't often use the word “delicious” for wine, but this $15 creation merits the term.

This wine combines Viognier, the white Rhône grape so associated with the magnificent and rare Condrieu, with Shiraz, an Australian workhorse and, as Syrah, the mainstay of the northern Rhône. In the original Rhône vineyards, small amounts of Viognier vines grew among the Syrah; these were sometimes vinified together so as not to waste the white grapes, which weren't numerous enough in many cases to justify a separate vintage. Australians, it seems, with their typical adaptive genius, have transformed the custom into a science.

The Barossa Shiraz vines are 30 to 50 years old. The wine is aged a year in American and French hogsheads, only 10% new. Whether due to the aging or to the Viognier contribution, it doesn't have a hint of bitterness, nor does it need that element, having so much more going for it. At 14.5% alcohol, you get heat on the nose at first, but it quickly gives way to dried apricot and black cherry, followed by a spicy/floral combination somewhat like potpourri.

The first palate sensation is chocolate-covered apricot. These are fresh apricots, by the way, or the plumpest of the dry. Blackberry, black cherry and plum are swathed in pungent pepper spice followed immediately with baking spice: clove, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. A fresh floral infusion tops it all off. The apricot and blackberry remain (as the chocolate echoes and slowly fades) through the excellent soft-tannin finish. Through it all, solid natural acidity keeps the show on the stage.

My food pairing tip: drink it alone. After all, these fine grapes have already been expertly paired with each other. This wine is food.

Verdict: Delicious
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The place called Barossa in Spain was the site of a British victory against Napoleon in 1811; it became the namesake of the Barossa Valley in South Australia.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


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