The Barossa Valley is home to some of the great wines of South Australia. The 2013 Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz from the dry hills of Barossa packs a punch in a big way. The region remains untouched by phylloxera, the minuscule root louse that once threatened to destroy most of the world’s vineyards. Therefore many of the vines in the valley are considered “old vine” and grow grapes with more concentrated, complex flavors than that of young vines. Unctuous and spicy, the 2013 Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz is a mighty wine, unlike most popstar, fruity, smoky bottles of Shiraz. The bouquet is intense. Full bodied and creamy, the wine bursts with flavors of blackberry and chocolate, held up by velvety, spicy tannins, and laced with a subtle hint of citrus zest or orange peel. Despite it’s higher alcohol content at 14.1% (which can sometimes eat up all a wine has to offer in finesse), I was impressed with this wine. The Patchwork Shiraz has some speaking points worth listening to. The wine’s high notes of citrus are very much in tune with it’s low notes of fig and chocolate, tied together with a bold, peppery finish.
The 2013 Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz is a good wine for testing out some classic Shiraz and food pairings. Such pairings include brisket, grilled london broil, or beef stew — hearty, meat-based dishes that have some charcoal or spice kick to them. Try this Shiraz with hot, spicy Indian food — a fabled pairing!
Yalumba is the largest and oldest family owned wine making operations in the Barossa Valley. The company is proud to be the first in the world to be awarded the Climate Protection Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency. Accordingly, the family (the Smiths and Hill-Smiths) claims that working the same spot of land for over 165 years teaches one a thing or two about the importance of sustainability. I’m not experienced enough to say whether or not I can taste sustainable production in a wine or not, but I flatter myself in that I can taste quality production more generally. And oftentimes sustainable production requires a more watchful eye. The company’s 2013 Patchwork Shiraz certainly tastes well crafted. It seems the family has learned a thing or two over the years.
The company’ winery, where the 2013 Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz was born, also lives in one of the oldest wine growing regions in Australia. The area was named after the Barrosa Ridge in the Spanish wine growing region Andalusia in the early 1830s as Europeans began arriving in Australia. The climate mirrored the familiar, Mediterranean terrain of Europe and was found suitable for grape growing. However, due to a registration area, a new name, “Barossa,” was born. Although the big, bold reds of Mediterranean Spain are not worlds away from those of the Barossa Valley, the accidental name change is fitting. The Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre or Monastrell) wines of Barossa have taken on quite a reputation and a life of their own. Innovative winemakers have brought practices from Bordeaux like oak aging and cold stabilization to the area in the 1940s, both of which were used to wrestle the power of Shiraz into more structured, serious wines. Despite changes in the market and vintage trouble over the last 60 years, Barossa continues to find itself as the 5th and 6th generation winegrowers look to the future. Barossa winemakers continue to have faith in their full-bodied, fruit-driven wines despite the world’s call for cool climate elegance. Their faith has not gone unnoticed nor unappreciated. With each sip of a wine like the 2013 Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz, sip the the hearty, persevering soul of Barossa.