Wine review — Yalumba The Octavius, Trust & O’Leary Walker

Yalumba The Octavius 2002 $89.95
Yalumba’s inky, oaky Barossa shiraz began life in 1988 – a burly overstatement, says winemaker Brian Walsh that the old firm had renounced the wispy, wishy-washy reds of the 1980s. In recent vintages, however, ‘Oaktavius’, has become less inky, oaky and burly – thanks in part to a toning down of the oak regime – and increasingly seamless, without sacrificing its powerful Barossa fruit flavour. Recent tastings of the 1993, 2000 and 2002 vintages illustrated this progression from power and oak to power with elegance – the latter being partly attributable to unique vintage conditions. Octavius has progressed from exclamation mark to serious regional benchmark.

Trust Central Victoria Shiraz 2004 $
That high alcohol red is not the sole domain of our warm growing regions shows in this fragrant and velvety Central Victorian shiraz. Like the warm Barossa’s Octavius, above, it weighs in at 14.5 per cent alcohol by volume. And both wines display the rich mouth-feel of alcohol without inflicting the astringent heat seen in some similarly potent reds. Which just shows that all of the components of a wine – alcohol included – need to harmonise to produce an appealing drink. The key is in the grapes, in this instance selected batches from four vineyards turned into delicious wine by Don Lewis, Narelle King and Toby Barlow.

O’Leary Walker Watervale & Polish Hill Rieslings $20
& Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2006 $22

Find a warm corner somewhere and crack one of these deliciously vibrant 2006 whites from David O’Leary and Nick Walker. The Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc has the racy tang and exciting flavour of fresh passionfruit plus the mid palate richness missing in too many Aussie sauv blancs. The rieslings, from distinct sub regions of the Clare Valley, share a common varietal thread but differ in subtle ways. The Watervale wine seems weightier in the mouth and leans to zesty lime-like flavours. The Polish Hill wine has a lightness and fine-ness and a pleasantly tart citrus character.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007