Central Otago key points last week from Daniel Veit, Jeremy Eubanks, Michael Markarian and John Danley. Thanks gents!
This week: Yarra Valley. What are the soils, geography and wine styles like? What major viticultural challenge are they facing at the moment? Name 2 iconic producers.
I will take a stab at getting us started. The Yarra Valley is in the coastal Port Phillip area of the state of Victoria, with a cool maritime climate influenced by the sea breezes blowing up from the ocean. The altitudes and aspects are diverse with many microclimates, and the soils are divided between grey-brown sandy loam and red volcanic soils. The wines include elegant styles of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah (often co-fermented with Viognier and called “Syrah” rather than “Shiraz” to reflect the more restrained Rhône-like style). Moet & Chandon started the Australian Domaine Chandon there to focus on sparkling wine. Another producer is Yarra Yering, making a Bordeaux blend, Rhône blend, varietal Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon. A number of producers in the Yarra Valley are also making Italian varietals such as Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Sangiovese.
Other iconic producer includes Mac Forbes with his single vineyards Pinot noirs and also Mount Mary with the Triolet (White Bordeaux blend) Quintet (Red Bordeaux blend), Pinot Noir, Chardonnay. Major viticultural challenges perhaps draught and bushfires. Wine styles often a more cool climate styles within a new world context and also new young winemaker following a marketing tendency on use of wholebunch and carbonic, lower Sulphur and experimenting with new varieties.
What they said. Also everything is on fire always.
I’ll add that the valley is created by the Yarra River.
THe grey loam soils are mostly in the both of the valley, and the younger red volcanic based soils are mostly in the south.
The close proximity to Melbourne is somewhat essential to trade, tourism, and investment.
The Great Dividing Range creates a number of elevation changes (150ft to more than 3000ft for the vineyards), a big part of why there’s such a wide range of grape varieties planted.
There are both phylloxerra free areas (with obvious own rooted vines preferred) and phyloxerra infected areas where grafting is required. Yarra Valley has a very concerted effort to isolate phylloxera in order to preserve areas where own rooted vines are possible. It’s super fascinating to read about their initiative.
Another couple of producers:
Levantine Hill is gorgeous property in the Yates Valley, Specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but producing the wide range one would expect there.
Yering Station is at the other end of the spectrum, focusing mostly on high value bottlings. These are quality offerings that can approach glass-pour pricing in most markets. A connection with Champagne Devaux also lends to them having a range of sparkling wines.
check out this article by Natasha Hughes MW in the Drink Business:
Within Port Philip Zone, Victoria state.
Grey sandy loam dominates the northern part of valley(Lower Yarra Valley) and volcanic soils(red Basalt) dominates the south part(upper Yarra Valley).*On the Sotherby's wine Encyclopedia 5th edition, Tom Stevenson presents the Volcanic red soil in the North, not in the south as our expert guide on guild. Can you help me with this Chef Chris Tanghe
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars. The wine style is more focus, Clean, mineral rather than big and tropical. Drought and Bushfires are always a major challenge.
1 - Yarra Yerring, N.3 - Cab/Tempranillo Blend
2 Ten Minute by Tractor - Chard. (3 different families making some cool wine here)
3 - I have to mention "Domaine Chandon" making some Blanc de Blancs as well.
Slim, check this out for clarification. I don’t always trust the locals for exact information (especially in Europe where there are legal documents for Wine requirements), but I think this is as safe of a source as exists:
Also, James Halladay’s Wine Atlas of Australia explains where the mixup probably comes from. It defines the northern spoils as “hard red duplex. Despite the technical name, these are grey to grey-brown in colour on the surface and range from loamy sand to clay loam in consistency.” Further adding to the confusion is that the subsoils in the north are hard red volcanic based. Granted, that has almost nothing to do with the vines, as the roots aren’t penetrating past the loam and sand.
Thank you Jeremy. James Hallidays's Atlas is on my book list. It's much clear now my confusion about the soils.
The website you sent me is just phenomenal. A lot great info and I agree with you about their effort against Phylloxera. It's definitely fascinating.
On my first comment I listed Drought and Bushfires as a viticutural challenge, but after going in depth on the Phylloxera Infested Areas and Risk Areas, I believe this is definitely a much bigger challenge for the growers in that region.
P.S. I miss you bro. I hope all is well!
What Jeremy Eubanks said! Also, be aware that Ten Minutes By Tractor is in Mornington Peninsula, not Yarra Valley.
Have to add some more notable producers:
Timo Mayer (rockstar)
Here is a recent article about Luke Lambert’s Yarra Valley Nebbiolo: www.nytimes.com/.../nebbiolo-australia-luke-lambert-sparkletown.html