Berkmann welcomes Iconic Australian Producer Yarra Yering to the portfolio
Yarra Yering is one of the oldest and most beautiful vineyards in the Yarra Valley consisting of 70 hectares of vines located at the foot of the Warramate Hills. Established in 1969 by horticultural visionary Dr Bailey Carrodus, the 1973 vintage saw the production of the first vintage of Dry Red Wines Nos 1 & 2, now iconic Australian expressions of Bordeaux and Rhône blends.
Current winemaker Sarah Crowe, who in 2017 was named Winemaker of the Year by James Halliday, continues to honour and respect the original vineyards, endeavouring to make the best wines possible. She continues in Dr Carrodus’s quest for elegance and sophistication while ensuring purity of fruit expression, as custodian of the Yarra Yering legacy.
Yarra Yering follows the principle that great wine is made in the vineyard. The seventy hectares of vines are grown without irrigation on a northerly slope at the foot of the Warramate hills. Good drainage, all day exposure to the sun, and enough elevation from the valley floor to avoid the spring frosts produces wines that are inherently balanced, precise and elegant.
The yield is low, significantly below one ton per hectare, resulting in fruit with great intensity and concentration of flavour and with an abundance of natural acidity. The rows of vines are planted three metres apart, but in-row vine spacings vary across the vineyard, depending on grape variety and suitability to soil type.
Hand-pruning is undertaken over winter by the vineyard staff, regardless of the weather in the Yarra Valley. As the vineyard has grown from the original twelve-hectare block to the current size, new varieties have been planted to supplement the traditional cabernet, pinot, shiraz, and chardonnay.
All fruit at Yarra Yering is hand-picked into ten-kilo picking buckets in the cool of the morning and delivered directly to the winery. The fruit is sorted, then either destemmed or crushed into the traditional Yarra Yering “tea chest” half-ton open-fermenters. Depending on the variety, stalks may be added back during the fermentation stage in baskets for easy removal when there is just enough stalk tannin present.
Occasionally there will be some 100% whole bunch fermenters for use as a blending component. The stainless steel lined wooden tea chest fermenters were designed by Dr Carrodus to hold just the right amount of fruit to fit into the basket press. During fermentation they are hand plunged for gentle tannin extraction, initiated naturally or sometimes with a specific cultured yeast strain.
Once fermentation is complete, the wine is basket pressed, preferred for its gentle separation of wine from the grape skins and seeds before being transferred via gravity to barrel. Here in the underground barrel cellar the wine completes malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels – the barrel age, size, shape and maturation time are dependent on the variety and wine style before blending and bottling.
The range of wines being stocked include the Underhill Shiraz, Agincourt Cabernet Malbec as well as the iconic Dry Reds No.1 and 2. The Underhill Shiraz 2013 is sourced exclusively from the unirrigated 1973 planted 8-acre block of Shiraz at the western extremity of Yarra Yering and is a wine with pronounced flavours of plums and tobacco alongside lifted notes of violets and spice. Meanwhile, the Agincourt Cabernet/Malbec 2015 is a wine to drink while you are cellaring your No.1’s! Brimming with classic Cabernet characters of cassis and dark berry fruits alongside a leafy herbaceousness, the Malbec component contributes inky robust plum and black cherry fruit.
Dry Red No.2 2013 is a shiraz-based blend with inspiration drawn from France’s Rhône Valley. The finished wine combines blackberry and tar scents with some earthy notes and dried herbs in the background. Medium-bodied, yet firmly structured, this is pleasantly restrained with ample fruit leading into a pleasantly earthy and mineral finish.
Finally, the Dry Red. No. 1 2013, rated Outstanding in the Langton’s Classification of Australian Fine Wine, is a classic claret-style from the original vineyard planted in 1969. This is the blend on which Yarra Yering’s reputation was built. Medium-bodied with a fleshy, fruit-layered palate integrated with earthy complexity. Juicy acidity underlays soft expansive fruit and fine dusty tannins, combining concentration with finesse.