The X factor, including the new Y-front…quintessential Aussie quaffing

Presented my final tasting of the year last night.  A couple of the wines, Innocent Bystander Moscato (pictured) and  St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve 2008, prompted this post.

The Gamekeeper’s Reserve, a winsome blend of Shiraz Grenache Touriga Nacional, is well nigh perfect for someone who loves Aussie and Portuguese wines like yours truly!  As winemaker Toby Barlow put it to me earlier this year, Touriga Nacional “tilts the lift,” bringing the floral notes and fleshy black cherry mid-palate that I like to find in Douro and Dão Touriga from Portugal, not to mention a bit of chocolate.  The tannins are as smooth as and, between them, the Touriga and the Shiraz keep the red cherry sweetness of the Grenache in check. With 25% off until 5 January, it’s £5.69 at Waitrose and a great example of Aussie flair at a cracking price point.

There are plenty of wines in the £5-8 sector with little more to recommend them than being a fruity alcoholic drink.  This week I’ve tasted several more entry-level Australian wines with the X factor that sets them apart from the pack.  First a quartet of new releases from Yalumba‘s re-packaged “Y Series,” whose label now features a different drawing for each wine.  Second, a couple of sparkling Moscatos – perfect festive fun fodder.

Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2008
– Yalumba are behind the top notch Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Rieslings. Sourced more widely from Barossa Valley fruit, this is crafted in a user-friendly fruit-driven style but it still shows pedigree.  There’s plenty of the bright lemon citrus and sweet talc that I associate with the region.  Incidentally, Orlando’s Rieslings are also a stand out of the Jacobs Creek range and worth seeking out for a forward but true Rizza.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2008 – although personally I’d shell out a few more quid for Yalumba’s Eden Valley Viognier (around a tenner at Slurp), the Y has excellent varietal character (spicy, ginger-edged lychee and pear skin) while avoiding the heaviness often associated with Viognier.  Rather the 2008 has a bouncy freshness about it.

Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2008
– Shiraz Viognier blends can be unsubtle to say the least but this shows the touch of a light hand. A plush mid-palate is fleshed out with plum/blood plum.  Attractive meaty, peppery notes give depth and lift in good measure – very nice balance.

Yalumba Y Series Shiraz 2008
– as with the Riesling, there’s a sense of pedigree here, with good length and depth of spicy plum, blackberry and currant fruit.  Liquorice, dusty/warm earth notes and ripe but present tannins keep it in check and, once again, the balance is good.

Deakin Estate Moscato 2009
– it’s always fun to show a gently spritzy Moscato d’Asti style wine like this because it subverts stereo-types about Australian wines.  So yes, this is far from macho, has a fair whack of residual sugar (as does the Innocent Bystander wine mentioned below), but it’s capable of bringing a silly smile to the face of even the sternest fellow.  Uplifting, grapey, spicy fruit with an edge of ginger – a great aperitif or fruit dessert wine and, for a full bottle, a snip at around £4.99 at Bibendum

Innocent Bystander Moscato 2009 – I also showed this more sophisticated, intensely aromatic (think rose petals and turkish delight) pink Moscato last night.  With its crown cap and cheeky squat bottle, it’s too cool for school (and, of course, too alcoholic for school, though only 5.5% abv).  A great pre or post-party pick me up!  £5.50 for a half bottle at Vinoteca, also at Slurp.

All best

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective