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JOHN ROZENTALS is guided through the Barossa Valley by one of its true believers.

September 10, 2018 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

Forewarned is forearmed, the saying goes — or something along those lines anyway.

They’d told me the day before that there was nothing quite like the whirlwind that is Jane Ferrari, and that if there was anything she didn’t know about Yalumba or the Barossa then it probably wasn’t worth knowing.

Nothing, though, could have prepared me to meet the quietly spoken category-six cyclone that picked me up from the foyer of the Weintal in Tanunda and took me on a tour of the valley.

Jane’s official job title at Yalumba is listed as ‘Wine Ambassador’ but as the company’s website points out, she is multi-faceted — a qualified winemaker, a talented storyteller, a skilled communicator, indeed a legend.

Anyway, I’m very lucky to spend most of the day with her, one-on-one, and gain just a glimpse of her knowledge and passion.

Jane seems to know everyone in the Barossa, and she obviously loves the place dearly, but I think she seems happiest when she’s surrounded by the valley’s gnarled old vines and talking about the glorious full-bodied reds they make.

Such as when we’re near The Nursery vineyard and she’s explaining the nuances of old bush-vine grenache, using bottles of the Yalumba 2013 Tri-Centenary and 2015 Carriage Block to highlight the differences that are possible to get from the same variety grown in same region.

Or near Light Pass where we taste the 2014 Steeple Vineyard Shiraz among the vines it was made from and within a stone’s throw — at least a well hit fairway wood — from the church it take its name.

The vines here were planted in 1919, the year after World War I ended and the year before Frank and Lily Beaurepaire, brother and sister, swam for Australia in the Antwerp Olympics.


Yalumba 2013 Tri-Centenary Grenache ($64): This densely coloured red is made from just 820 vines planted in 1889 on a deep sandy loam underlain with red-brown clay. The soil retains moisture well even in hot, dry years and the wine is juicy, complex and rich — an absolute joy to savour. The significance of the age of the vines isn’t lost on Jane Ferrari. Nor on me.

Yalumba 2015 Carriage Block Grenache ($45): Much lighter in colour than the Tri-Centenary but still substantial, this wine has been made from relatively ‘young’ vines planted in 1954 by Elmore Schulz, a local train driver. This medium-bodied wine is redolent of red fruits and, according to winemaker Kevin Glastonberry, ideally suited to roast chicken. The suggestion was available at tasting, but I’ll take his word.


Yalumba 2014 Steeple Vineyard Shiraz ($70): This powerful dry red typifies old-vine Barossa shiraz. It’s still quite youthful and sings dark-berry flavours backed by some very classy oak, apparently coopered from a special 362-year-old tree in France’s Bercé forest. It was an absolute privilege to taste this wine among the vines that produced it.

Written by John Rozentals

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