Yarra Yering Masterclass with Paul Bridgeman

Recently, a small, intimate Yarra Yering masterclass was led by the winemaker Paul Bridgeman at Wine Ark Insiders. The back vintage line up was delicious! Paul took us through the depths behind each wine and vintage – the vintage year, winemaking methods, aims of each wine and the great stories behind the labels and origins.

Paul really emphasises the importance of leaving the low-yielding vines unmanipulated and letting terroir be expressed as much as possible through the wine.  This is done through things such as leaving the vineyards unirrigated (which increases the concentration/complexity of each wine and makes the vine roots seep deeper into the ground), careful hand-pruning, small batch fermentation and never acidifying the wines. Yarra Yering wines are now internationally recognised examples of purity, delicate yet powerful complexity, elegance and finesse.

Apart from the tasting notes below I’ll just say briefly: I love the Pinot Noirs, they’re all very smooth with elegant complex characters with none of the overwhelming ‘fruit bomb’ characters that I see too often; the Underhill Shiraz is also a favourite and generally provides a darker, ‘masculine’ wine, compared with the Dry Red #2 which is based on France’s Rhône Valley style of wines, generally providing a more ‘feminine’, perfumed/floral Shiraz based wine; and the Agincourt is a Cabernet blend wine that is seen to have more generous ‘fruitiness’ than the Dry Red #1 which is a more austere, classic Claret/Cabernet style… Also their Dry Red #3 is great, in a classic Portuguese style and one of the few excellent examples of Touriga Naςional variety grown in Australia – if you get a chance to try it please do.

Personal tasting notes:

Yarra Yering Pinot Noir 2007 – Can tell on the nose it has some age – a soft perfume based with earthiness, black cherries, plums and a hint of dried fruit (ripeness). Palate silky, with soft spice and vague superfine tannins, and a semi-sweet cherry character. Length very long and smooth. Cellar door $83/bottle.

Yarra Yering Pinot Noir 2008 – Nose has a bit more leather characteristic, with red cherry and dark plums. Palate spicier than the ’07, with more prominent savoury notes, and still with smoothness and length.

Yarra Yering Pinot Noir 2009 – Bit more purple in the rim (edge of the liquid in glass), showing youth. Red cherry on the nose with lifted violet/floral aromas. Acidity on palate proves the youth and intensity of flavour – with savoury elements (more savoury on taste than what it smells like), hint of black pepper and other dark spices.

Yarra Yering Underhill Shiraz 2001 – My personal favourite along with the Pinots. I actually realised later that I posted about the Underhill Shiraz 2001 last year, so it must be a favourite 🙂 On the nose I found a slight leafy character, with sweet fruits, along with some dried fruit character too. Palate was juicy and dense, almost like a savoury syrup, but smooth. Also some dark, smooth liquorice character more on tasting than in the aromas. Finish good, and warm. Cellar door $95/bottle.

Yarra Yering Underhill Shiraz 2004 – Darker in colour than the ’01. Was a cool year so intensity really showed through the forefront of this wine on both nose and palate (and finish). Think juicy concentrated dark fruits (plums, blackberries), but with a herbal edge and prominent, savoury black peppery notes (but without too harsh ‘bite’ of pepper), lasting all through the finish. More European style Shiraz – elegant, intense and balanced. Cellar door $89/bottle.

Yarra Yering Dry Red #2 Shiraz 2006 – Powerful Shiraz character really comes out at you, but with a lifted perfume. Nose very earth and ‘dirty’, savoury, with other old-fashioned characters – think leather, and as Paul said, “Eurofunk”. Palate also earthy and savoury with spices. Cellar door $88/bottle.

Yarra Yering Dry Red #2 2007 – Blend includes Shiraz (96%), Mataro and a touch of Viognier. Nose earthy with prominent fruitiness and “hot rocks” was one of the main ways the masterclass could explain it – this sort of smooth, wet, stoney character. Savoury palate upfront full of ripe blackberries, black pepper and tannins which provide a bit of a grip around the mouth. Finish firm, long and elegant.

Yarra Yering Agincourt 2006 – Cabernet blend. Nose savoury with herbaceous characters. Palate smooth with blackberry and ‘chalky’ tannins (kind of grippy, powdery tannins). Cellar door $85/bottle.

Yarra Yering Agincourt 2007 – Savoury, but with more tannic grip than the ’06. Palate also includes prominent spice characters and black pepper. A bit more closed than the ’06 as it’s still young and has a lot of cellaring time ahead which will let more wine character come forward. Cellar door $83/bottle.

Yarra Yering Dry Red #1 2003 – Now these Dry Red #1 wines are in the classic Claret style of Cabernet – think elegant, more serious, sometimes old-fashioned characters (think leather, French oak, wood), with fine structure/mouthfeel, and medium alcohol weight (not overloaded). On the 2003 there’s a hint of rosemary on the nose, with a juicy palate full of plums and berries in a ‘plump’ rounded feel in the mouth, based with savoury spices/leather and great (but fine, non overpowering structure).

Yarra Yering Dry Red #1 2004 – Aromas of leather and dark spices (incl. liquorice). Quite ripe for a Cabnernet. Smooth taste/body, silky and intense. Love the long, savoury finish – really outstanding and noticeable. Cellar door $92/bottle.

Yarra Yering Dry Red #1 2005 – Nose bit restrained (due to youth/has a long time to cellar), but definite classic Cabernet with herbal aromas but nothing too ‘green’ or underripe. Palate smooth with slightly chalky tannins that leave a slight grip in the mouth that’s also soft (like chalk), with some toasty character and lively fruit (blackcurrant/blackberry). Length lovely and warm.

This masterclass was a great night and really informative, and not often would I get to try so many different Yarra Yering wines and vintages back to back… All the wines are collectables, and age gracefully (some up to 20+ years). They all drink well now but I also look forward to having at least a few of these wines again later, as the future holds a lot for them.

Cheers!

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