Yarrabank, a joint venture between Yering Station and Champagne Devaux, has been making sparkling wine from vineyards in the Yarra Valley since 1996. Its vineyard resources are concentrated in the prized Upper Yarra Valley sub-region, its sparkling wines are made using méthode traditionelle techniques, and its vintages are always matured and held back from release until significant complexity has been acquired.
The 2015 Yarrabank Cuvée is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay all sourced from Wombat Creek, one of the higher elevations in the Yarra Valley and that extra layer of finesse and freshness is always a bonus in sparkling wine. Released under the careful eye of new Senior Winemaker Brendan Hawker, returned to Yering after other wine adventures. Tiraged in November 2015 with only 3g/l dosage, this is decadence itself. Sumptuous flavours of dark chocolate, quince, red apples and kumquats are all wrapped up in a nutty blanket of smooth, fine bubbles, finishing smoky and rich. On the palate, the flavours offer a soft fruitiness of peaches that have been poached in vanilla, star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg but at no point do these rich and complex flavours become overwhelming of the freshness and acidity that bring backbone and structure to the wine.
If I’m honest, I feel a little underdressed even drinking this, it deserves better. I should be at the sort of dinner party that has crushed velvet drapes, Titian paintings, serving rolled pork loin stuffed with prunes soaked in Armagnac and a dessert that involves dark chocolate mousse and gold leaf. I’m in my soft clothes at home but with a glass of this, I can allow the fantasy to linger a little longer.
95 points, The Wine Front (April 2021)
Yarra ValleyThe Yarra Valley was first planted by the Ryrie brothers who explored a way through the Snowy Mountains to the Yarra Valley, planting grapes in 1838 just three years after the foundation of Melbourne. A wine industry (developed by Swiss Settlers particularly Hubert de Castella and Baron Guillaume de Pury in the 1850s) thrived during the gold rush era and heyday of the 19th century. However, the end of the gold rush brought the wine industry into decline and it was not until the 1970’s that the modern wine industry started up again. The region is probably Australia’s best-known cool-climate area, yet it is really a patchwork of meso-climates. This varied topography creates an incredible set of variables. Vineyards are planted on elevations of 50 to 400m on varying aspects and management programmes. The more exposed sites are subject to severe spring frosts and winds. Overall, the area experiences a relatively high rainfall pattern and is known for its temperature extremes during ripening. Site selection is crucial, with the best vineyards often located where the original vines were once planted, generally on sandy clay loams and gravels. The Yarra Valley is well known for high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Blends with Shiraz increasingly garnering attention. Sparkling wine production is also extremely important, with many of Australia’s finest examples produced in the region.