Monday, April 8, 2019

Australian Winery Visit: Chateau Yaldara

Chateau Yaldara was one of the first boutique wineries in Barossa Valley. For more than 70 years the winery has made the most of its Mediterranean climate to produce imaginative wines.

The stylish tasting room inside Chateau Yaldara

Barossa Valley Bound

While planning our recent trip to Australia, my wife accused me of only thinking about wineries. To that I plead guilty, although at her urging we fit in a number of other great activities. One place that was a “must see” was Barossa Valley, the most famous of all Australian wine regions.

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Our tour operator for our visit was Taste The Barossa, which we happily recommend. Our first stop was Chateau Yaldara and what a smashing way to begin.

Chateau Yaldara operates from an impressive chateau building with a bubbling fountain and a grand staircase to the front entrance. Before the first sip, we felt special.

The winery was founded by Hermann Thumm, who arrived from Europe in 1941. The term “Yaldara” is the local First People’s term for “sparkling.” The winery is on the banks of the North Para River at the site of a flax mill dating back to 1867.

Start With The Sparkling

Sparkling reds are favorite treats at holiday time in Australia
One thing about this part of our Australian journey that will remain seared in our memory is the intense heat. During our stay in Adelaide the temperature set a new high, rising to 116 degrees Fahrenheit. When we entered through the chateau’s front doors, the heat was already ramping up outside.

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We entered a private room for our tasting and our host knew just what we needed. The first pour was the Sparkling Pinot Noir – Chardonnay. One great discovery for me during our trip was Australia’s great sparkling wine. This bottle was pale pink in the glass with streams of tiny, energetic bubbles.

The wine is made using the tank, or Charmat, method. In the glass this is crisp with citrus and cherry notes. My wife and I alone could have finished a couple bottles due to the soaring heat.

The Foundations Sauvignon Blanc delivers the satisfaction of the grape without overly intense acidity. The wine has a smooth texture with flavors of citrus and tropical fruit. The acidity is light and the wine is balanced. A great refreshing wine.

Chateau Yaldara’s 1847 range comprises its upper end wines. Our first taste was the 2014 1847 Wines Sparkling Petit Verdot. Sparkling red wines are popular in Australia, especially for holidays. This is dark cherry red in the glass with the flavor of whipped fruit and berries. This was surprisingly good.

The 1847 Pappy's Cabernet Sauvignon was a favorite

Shiraz – Calling Card of Barossa

I enjoy the unique and unusual as well as the next person, but now I was ready for the main act – Barossa’s famous Shiraz. Of course, this is the same grape as Syrah, but Australian winemakers have elevated this grape in high alcohol, powerful red wines of their own style. By the way, be sure to pronounce it “sheer-AZ,” at least in Australia.

The next glass was the 2016 Chateau Yaldara Foundations Shiraz, a wine made to drink now. It is a wine with flowing oak and plum flavors. It has some nice deep mocha playing bass. The ABV is 14.5%. This is a great accessible wine with all the hallmarks of Barossa with a tasty price of A$25.

The 2012 1847 Wines Pappy’s Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the finest wines we tasted on our trip. This is a deep, rich wine with blueberry, blue and spice. The age has mellowed the tannins and the French oak barrels adds just the right touch of oak. We purchased a bottle for A$55.

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Grapes for this wine come from the 1847 Estate Vineyard, in the Rowland Flat sub-region noted for the bright red color of its soils. The soil has an assortment of roughly rounded, granitic pebbles not found anywhere else in the Barossa. It gives Pappy’s Cabernet and other 1847 wines a distinct and outstanding character.

We closed our tasting with the Classic Tawny, a Port-style wine. Although not stated, I assume this is made with Shiraz and Grenache. Wine is aged in barrels and then blended together and fortified. The average age of the Tawny is 10 years.

This is a toasty wine, as you may expect, with nutty and rich toffee flavors. It is a great way to end the evening or to sip as you savor a cigar before the fireplace.

Chateau Yaldara is a captivating winery to visit. One taste and you’ll know why Barossa Valley is one of the world’s great wine regions!

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