Yangarra Estate Vineyard: Southern Rhône Specialists in South Australia’s McLaren Vale

Yangarra Estate Vineyard is situated on more than 400 acres of creeks and native vegetation in the northeast portion of McLaren Vale, South Australia. The climate in this coastal region 45 minutes south of Adelaide is mediterranean, making it the perfect location for southern Rhône varieties. Today we are sipping two wines from Yangarra, both were provided to us as tasting samples.

The history of Yangarra Estate Vineyard reaches back to 1946, to a time when the farm was called Lalla Rookh (Love Nest). The first Grenache vines were planted by Frederick Arthur Smart and his sons. His eldest son, Bernard, still lives adjacent to Yangarra. That vineyard is still bearing fruit today and is the source of Yangarra’s premier wine the High Sands Grenache, named for the vineyard. An adjacent vineyard planted the following year was reclaimed by drifting sand and failed.

Although Grenache has remained a constant throughout the years, the recent history has brought change. In 2000 the property became part of Jackson Family Wines and was renamed Yangarra Estate Vineyard. Since that time the vineyards have been expanded, native vegetation has been restored and a new winery built.

The focus at Yangarra is single-vineyard and estate wines using southern Rhône varieties. Eighteen varieties planted to nearly 250 acres are documented on the current estate vineyard map (isn’t that the best vineyard map you’ve seen?) More usual varieties like Grenache, Carignan, Roussanne and Cinsault are planted here, along with the less familiar (at least to me) Terret Noir and Vaccarese.

And the good news continues in both the vineyards and the wine cellar. Yangarra is a biodynamic wine farm. That means no herbicides or pesticides are used in the vineyards. In the wine cellar winemaking is old-world in style. Open-top fermenters are temperature-controlled and maceration and punch-downs are gentle. 

Fermentations employ indigenous yeast only. The skins are pressed in stainless steel basket presses. Aging takes place in older, predominantly French oak. All of this allows the wine in the bottle to reflect the character of the fruit the vineyard provides.

Yangarra Estate Vineyard Roussanne, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Yangarra Estate Vineyard Roussanne, McLaren Vale, South Australia

2016 Yangarra Estate Vineyard Roussannemedium yellow in the glass with aromas of pears, dried oat hay and dusty gravel. Flavors of white peach, pear, oat hay, dusty gravel and lingering spice combine for a complex flavor profile in a medium body with bright acidity. Flavors last a very long time. This is a substantial and balanced white wine. 13.5% abv. $35

This is a lovely, serious white wine. Its complexity will keep you thinking about what you’re tasting. I want to say this is a brilliant food wine, because of its body and acidity, but don’t overlook its sipping potential as well. Pair it with creamy pasta, chicken or fish.

The Roussanne was hand picked and gently basket pressed. Fermentation with indigenous yeast took place in barrel without prior sulfur addition. The wine spent 7 months in barrel (only 10% new French oak) on the lees with monthly stirring. The wine was bottled with only filtration, no fining.

The first two-acre planting of Roussanne at Yangarra in 2003 has since doubled in acreage. The first vintage released was 2007. Vineyard sites were selected for their weathered sand and ironstone gravel soils. 

Yangarra Estate Vineyard Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Yangarra Estate Vineyard Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia

2014 Yangarra Estate Vineyard Shirazbrilliant ruby in the glass with generous aromas of red fruit, dried herbs and black tea aromas. Flavors of tart red fruit, crushed flower stems, dried herbs are supported by juicy acidity. Tannins are substantial and drying, but well integrated with the flavors. The body is medium and the length moderate+. 14% abv. SRP $35

This lovely (and lively) Shiraz shows an exciting tension between the red fruit flavors and acidity that is punctuated by drying tannins. It is a delight to sip and made a delicious pairing for oven roasted chicken and Brussels sprouts with bacon.

This Shiraz was harvested at night and de-stemmed before going into open-top fermenters. A 5 to 6 day cold-soak followed before fermentation began with indigenous yeast. Following 12 to 14 days of gentle plunging and rack and return the wine went into French oak barriques. The wine aged for 13 months in 25% new French oak and was bottled with filtration only, no fining.

Many Australians will be celebrating Australia Day on January 26. Either of these Yangarra wines would make an excellent choice for that celebration. Whether you join that celebration or not I hope you have a glass of Yangarra Estate Vineyard wine in your glass this weekend.

Cheers!

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