October Wines of the Month: Yabby Lake Block 1 Chardonnay 2012 & One Block Yellingbo’’ Syrah 2017
With so many Australian wine tastings last month, it has been exceptionally tough to single out my Wines of the Month. In just two September posts, I shared my recommendations on 84 exciting Australian wines – 34 great Australian Grenaches and 50 Aussie highlights from September’s Off the Vine, Out the Box and The Dirty Dozen tastings. Expect more top tips in this month’s posts.
Here are my October Wines of the Month – re-tasted four years on, a classic vintage of a much acclaimed Chardonnay and an exciting Syrah from a new kid on the block, Jayden Ong of One Block.
One Block ‘One Block ‘Yellingbo’’ Syrah 2017 (Yarra Valley)
How the olfactory bulb blossoms – leaping to attention, bloodhound style – to capture both essence, rasp and layer of this super-savoury (100%) Syrah. Entrancing white pepper (great intensity) and exotic orange peel (more nuanced) add lift to its juicily persistent blackberry and earthier, meatier undertones. I loved its rasp of tannins, the stems present, but not sacrificing the fruit or fluidity of this agile wine. Most definitely the right side of feral! The Syrah (clone PT23) is sourced from the Tibooburra vineyard in Yellingbo in the Upper Yarra Valley, from which Luke Lambert also takes fruit. At 240m above sea level, Tibooburra vineyard is quite high for the Yarra, but nothing like as high as the vineyard Ong has planted at 700m above Timo Mayer’s Bloody Hill vineyard – bloody, bloody hill?!? I can’t wait to see what he does there, but I’ll have to be patient…he only bought the land in 2015. The low yielding block which produced this Syrah was planted in 2001 on a southwest aspect and comes from an atypical band of deep black soil (most likely of volcanic origin) at the mid-top part of the vineyard. The hand picked and hand sorted Syrah was naturally fermented in different batches. One with 55% whole bunches, which underwent carbonic maceration. For the balance, Ong retained as many whole berries as possible. After around 35 days on skins, the wine was pressed directly to 500l Francois Freres’ puncheons (20% new), where it aged (unsulphured) for 12 months in barrel. P.S. One Block have been listed by Lea & Sandeman.
Yabby Lake Block 1 Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula)
I first tasted this wine in 2014, remarking on its imposing structure and “bottled electricity” ageing potential. In scintillating form when Tom Carson showed it at last month’s Mornington Peninsula masterclass, Yabby Lake Block 1 Chardonnay 2012 (pictured second glass from the right) is thoroughly living up to its promise. Made from 100% Mendoza or Gin Gin clone, which is grown on the lowest, coolest part of the vineyard with the heaviest clay, its energy is evident from the off. A tangy, zingy, tightly-wound nose shows lemon zest and pith, which follow through on the attack. Yellow peach, savoury lees, nutty oak and subtle struck match lift build resolutely, as it opens up. With a chewy, palpable sense of dry extract, it has terrific palate presence. A lingering, slow burn finish – perfumed, still building – suggests this wine is just hitting its stride. Superb complexity, structure and length. 12.5%