Yalumba and Wyndham Estates - Holidays, BBQ & Vegetarian
by Chelle Christy
Traditionally you may be thinking that the best wines to go with festive meals such as turkey or ham are probably white. That's true; almost any white will go perfectly with such fare but gone are the days of only drinking white with white meat and red with red meat. As long as the wine you choose is not too overpowering, a red will match perfectly with your holiday dinner. So, to break with tradition, I am going to review two red wines that are well suited to a late afternoon, even outdoor, holiday feast. The wines are light and relaxed, easy to drink and will not take the limelight away from good food and wonderful conversations. Happy Holidays!
1998 Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache, Barossa
Grenache is an interesting grape that is usually blended in small quantities with other red grape varieties, such as Merlot or Shiraz, to bring softness and character to those really full-bodied wines. Yalumba, Australia's oldest family owned winery based in South Australia's Barossa Valley, has a good example of a straight unblended Grenache wine. Unlike most grape vines, Yalumba's Grenache are not trellised but instead are allowed grow as small shrubs or 'bushes' - hence the name Bush Vine Grenache.
The wine is quite a deep, rich reddish color with a hint of purple. It has an interesting and spicy aroma reminiscent of black pepper, cloves and over-ripe plums. At first taste, the wine may seem a little thin, but this is quite characteristic of Grenache. The palate is actually soft (although 14% alcohol content), due primarily to the medium tannins. However, the flavors are quite full, particularly those of red and black fruits such as plum and cherry, with mixed spices and a dash of chocolate. Because of the wine's softness, the finish is subtle and cellaring time would be in the order of a couple of years. Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache will team well with roast pork, gamy veal, spicy fish or pasta with red sauces. Of course a multifaceted holiday dinner would also be perfect. Chill slightly for a refreshing afternoon drink with an early BBQ supper.
Wyndham Estates Bin 333 Pinot Noir 2001
We see a lot of Wyndham Estate (Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia) wine for sale in Guam and the reason is simple. Their wines are fine, dependable and, importantly, good value. These are the sorts of wines you know you can pick up in a rush and enjoy, no matter the vintage. That is not to say they are less than good quality, because this is far from the truth. Wyndham Estate uses many multi-regional grape varieties and fermentation techniques to produce the very best wine for each grape and blend.
Pinot Noir is a very fussy grape and it is often difficult to produce a good wine if the growing conditions are not quite right. Many regions in Australia are unsuitable for Pinot Noir because this is a grape variety that thrives in cooler conditions. To overcome this problem, Wyndham Estate has blended grapes from both warm and cool regions in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The result is a delicate almost fruity wine with a generous mid-palate structure.
Wyndham Estates Bin 333 has that quintessential Pinot Noir brick-red color and earthy aroma you come to expect from this grape variety. The bouquet also offers a hint of cherry and maybe even strawberry. This is a medium bodied, fairly unstructured red where the earthy theme continues through the palate and, in my opinion, slightly overshadows the delicate fruit flavors. There is also a suggestion of oak and cherry flavors. Luckily the tannins are light so the wine does not seem overly unbalanced.
Wyndham Estates Bin 333 is a pleasant, elegant, light red that can be enjoyed with light dishes such as a warm chicken salad and most vegetarian dishes. I wouldn't leave it too long to drink, but a year or two under the right conditions will probably improve the quality.