Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Barossa goes to Brisbane, and so does Karra Yerta

Last weekend representatives from twenty-five different Barossa and Eden Valley wineries attended three events in Brisbane organised by Purple Palate to celebrate the opening of their new wine store, Bar Barossa.

We sent our resident red wine maker (oh, and my husband:), James. He travelled up with Steven Kurtz of Kurtz Family Vineyards and from the sounds of things they had a great weekend. A few Coopers Ales may have made our tribe feel at home I think. They also met up with the third Collective counterpart, Wayne Ahrens of Smallfry.

The events were incredibly successful and the wineries ended up showcasing their wines to almost one thousand people over the two tastings and dinner which is a remarkable feat. Many thanks to Darren Davis for his magnificent organisational skills and to the entire Purple Palate gang for making our winery people feel welcome.

Feedback from James was that our rieslings were received fantastically and everyone loved the style of it. No doubt that the Queensland lifestyle plays a part in that, and what better to have with a lovely seafood meal?

We look forward to working with Purple Palate in the future and increasing our sales to that part of the country. With the Queensland sector now covered, our wines are available all along the East Coast of Australia including Tasmania so we are absolutely over the moon with the opportunites that have come up over the past few years. Sincere thanks to all who have supported us in the current economic climate.

Special thanks to Darren for allowing me to use the accompanying photograph on this blog entry.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tasting Notes: 2006 Shiraz Cabernet


PRODUCT: Karra Yerta Wines 2006 Shiraz Cabernet
APPELLATION: Eden Valley & Barossa
VARIETY: Shiraz Cabernet
BOTTLED: October 4th, 2008
ALCOHOL: 14.5%
TA: 7.69g/l
PH: 3.44
PRODUCTION: 170 cases/dozen
CELLARING: drink now to 2015

This Shiraz Cabernet is a blend of Barossa and Eden Valley Shiraz and 13% Eden Valley Cabernet. Made by James Linke of Karra Yerta Wines at Biscay Road Vintners. Aged 24 months in French Oak. With flavours of blackberry, blackcurrant, lavender and violets this wine is ready to drink now but will also benefit from cellaring. Screwcap.

94+++/100 points Philip White - "Drinkster", Adelaide
The stony, barren ridge at the top of Flaxman's, where the ancient rocks poke through high above the Barossa, is the home of some of the world's most expensive and elusive shiraz wines. (Think Ringland, next door. McLean's Farm at the northern end; Mountadam at the southern.) This vineyard is windswept and wild, freezing in the winter, and even cool at night in the midst of the most vicious heatwaves. So this rare tincture has quite a lot to live up to. It has the most intense and complex bouquet, riddled with twists of beauty that seem so blacksmithed into compression they unwind in a dreadfully gradual and teasing manner. Musk, lavendar, violets, licorice, mint, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, blackcurrant, blackberry, beetroot, morel, porcini, ancient soy, salt, schist, podsol, guano, gunpowder, swarf, burlap ... I dunno. I could go on, and I've only had my hooter in the glass for thirty minutes. I know now that this wine is gonna be a king hell striptease viper with a voice like Barry White and Grace Jones for a Mum. The palate's disarming and confronting from the first sip: just mildly viscous, especially compared to the intensity of its flavours, with, yep, the lithe form of the black whipsnake slithering around your mouth like some professional girls apparently dance on poles. It's strangely compact and intense, as I've said too many times, but still seems ethereal in its saucy habit of letting little shots of its myriad components just go: they're there for a flash as they evaporate, and suddenly they're replaced by something else. And on and on it goes. The dance of the hundred and summit veils. Sometime a long way off all these bits and pieces will assimilate and homogenise and the damned thing will be mature and formal and very, very famous, and those astonishing components will let go at the same time in equal proportions and really, really gradually, but shit, that'll kill people, and by Bacchus I love it now. I doubt that I can stay alive long enough to drink it at its peak, and if I did, it'd kill me anyway. Karra Yerta has never hit the top ten in the glambam gobstopper any price you like stakes, but it will, and it will outshine most of those wannabeez and cooderbeenz. This is a stunning, secret wine. Gimme! JAN 09

Please find the two glowing reviews from August 2009 below; one from Julian Coldrey ( and Gary Walsh (

Karra Yerta 2006 Shiraz Cabernet

This wine (and winery) defines boutique in many respects. A limited run production of 170 cases, made by James Linke from Eden Valley and Barossa fruit, then blended by Pete Schell to create this quite outstanding little number. When I asked the engaging Marie Linke the intent behind this wine, her answer was "a good home brew, for ourselves, but plans change." And how.

I tasted this over two days, and recommend a good decant at the very least if drinking now. The nose is almost provocatively complex, with notes of gunpowder, barbecued meats, five-spice, lavender, mulberries and cocoa powder. It sounds cacophonous but it's more like a plaid wool blankie: textured and comforting. The aroma profile softened overnight, not becoming less complex but simply settling into its groove, less puffed out, more sophisticated. If there's a hint of volatility, it works well to lift into and penetrate the nostrils.

The palate has shown an even greater transformation with time. At first, unexpectedly bright red fruit shoots down the mouth, accompanied by the same savouriness as in the aroma, falling away a bit on the after palate. A couple of hours later, it fills out significantly, gaining weight and elegance at the same time, and losing the slightly disjointed construction I saw at first. The next day, now, it has melted into a thing of beauty, a limpid pool of dark richness that seems to dissolve onto the tongue with an impossible sense of control. The fruit flavour has gone to dark cherries, with a range of other flavours (including sappy oak) that resist being teased apart from one another. The slinky mouthfeel is a highlight here; tannins are almost excessively fine and ripe.

This is a "fall in love" sort of wine; distinctive, beautiful. I'm not going to resist.

Karra Yerta Wines
Price: $A25
Closure: Stelvin

Karra Yerta 2006 Shiraz Cabernet

Tuesday, Aug 25 2009 · Posted in Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, shiraz et al

By Gary Walsh

Good old Shiraz Cabernet - the classic Australian blend that goes against the current prevailing train of thought that mono-varietal makes for superior wine. I’ve no idea why this should be the case, and I’m always surprised, and non wine bore people even more so, when I tell them that blends are ‘really good and it’s OK to drink them…really!’ There’s 170 dozen of this particular blend made.

Lots going on here - plump blueberry/dark cherry fruit, wool wash, nutty nougat oak - floral and meaty too. It’s medium to full bodied with plenty of juicy cherry jam flavour (not sweet though) mingling with a coal-like savouriness and regional eucalypt. Perfectly pitched tannin - ripe but firm - the flow through the palate and length all excellent. Bargain. Should cellar well.

Rated : 93 Points
Tasted : Aug09
Alcohol : 14.5%
Price : $25
Closure : Screwcap
Drink : 2010 - 2016+

Tasting Notes: 2005 Bullfrog Flat Shiraz


PRODUCT: Karra Yerta Wines 2005 Bullfrog Flat Shiraz
HARVESTED: April 19, 2005
BOTTLED: March 18, 2007
ALCOHOL: 14.5%
TA: 8.4g/ltr
PH: 3.4
PRODUCTION: 62 cases/dozen
CELLARING: drink now to 2017

This vibrant, deep garnet coloured shiraz was made by James Linke from 45-50 year old dry-grown, hand-picked grapes which are situated a mere few hundred metres to the west of the famous Ringland "Three Rivers" vineyard in the premium area of the Barossa Ranges. A lifted and perfumed nose of satsuma plum, sweet black cherry, black tea and wood smoke overlain with subtle cardamon and fennel spice derived from almost 24 months in French Oak hogsheads. Medium bodied with fine tannins the palate displays a range of red and black fruits, currants, plum and blackberry and a fine balance of acidity. An aromatic and alluring shiraz from one of the highest vineyards in the Barossa Ranges and the renowned 2005 Eden Valley vintage. Screwcap.

94++/100 points Philip White - "The Independent Weekly"

Tasting Notes: 2005 Barossa Shiraz


PRODUCT: Karra Yerta Wines 2005 Barossa Shiraz
HARVESTED: March 28, 2005
BOTTLED: October 9, 2007
ALCOHOL: 14.6%
TA: 7.58g/ltr
PH: 3.53
PRODUCTION: 64 cases
CELLARING: drink now to 2017

This vibrant, deep cherry red coloured shiraz was made by James Linke and finished by Pete Schell (Spinifex) from grapes in the premium area of the Barossa floor (Moppa/Kalimna). A perfumed nose of dark berries and chocolate. Nice rounded tannins and good length on the palate. This is a fine example of a Barossa Shiraz and although drinking quite nicely now, will certainly benefit from cellaring. Screwcap.

94/100 points Gary Walsh - "Winorama" (March 2008)
Silver Medal at the 2008 San Francisco International Wine Show

Tasting Notes: 2008 Eden Valley Riesling


PRODUCT: Karra Yerta Wines 2008 Eden Valley Riesling
VARIETY: Riesling

HARVESTED: March 4th, 2008

BOTTLED: July 4th, 2008


TA: 7.79g/ltr

PH: 2.90
PRODUCTION: 85 cases/dozen
CELLARING: drink now to 2018


This Riesling was made by Peter Gajewski of Rocland Winery from 75+ year old dry-grown, hand-picked grapes which are situated a mere few hundred metres to the west of the famous Ringland "Three Rivers" vineyard in the premium area of the Barossa Ranges. With lime aromas and flavours, touches of peach, paw paw and honey, along with the usual regional minerality, this wine will age very well. Screwcap.

93++/100 points Philip White - "Drinkster", Adelaide
Alsace. Germany. Tasmania. High Barossa. Who cares? Honey and nuts; gewurztraminer and roses; spicebox and creme caramel: you'll find all these sorts of delicioso swimming round this bowl. It's not the austere crisp rapier some earlier Karra Yertas have been, but it's rich and wholesome, like some of the more Germanic rieslings made in the Barossa in the sixties and seventies, and what I imagine Petaluma tried to do sometimes during the eighties. The flavour has lovely honey as much as lemon and lime: not exactly sweet, but with an illusion of sweetness as much as your actual unfermented sugary juice. The aftertaste is a tantalising tumble of spiced mead, citrus pith, dried apple, lemon blossom and dry stones. It's like a serious spatlese riesling fermented dry. It'd be perfect with a creme caramel flavoured with a tiny squirt of lemon and garnished with citrus rind; or King George whiting fillets wrapped around a little squirt of prawn mousseline in beurre blanc. Savvy?

92/100 points James Halliday - "2010 Wine Companion", Melbourne

Julian Coldrey - "", Brisbane

"Lately, I've been thinking about wine styles and how some come to be defined as classics over time. In a way, it's more complex than the literary canon, for example, in which a single, unchanging artifact is evaluated and re-evaluated over time. With wine, a particular combination of variety and region remains static but a whole set of variables -- everything from particular vintage conditions to winemaking to long term climatic variations -- ensures a constant evolution. So, how to pin down the essentials? This wine poses the question because it seems to present atypically at first. The nose is heady, hinting at tropical richness without feeling at all broad. There are wisps of paw paw, honey and the sort of spice that would feel at home in a Gew├╝rztraminer. These elements are at the fore, and for a moment mask a backbone of fine, detailed minerality and a curl of lime rind that are all about the Eden Valley. There's also what appears to be a touch of sulphur, adding complexity as much as anything else.
On the palate, these potential contradictions resolve beautifully. It's not a sweet wine, but there's a luxurious softness here that comes from a combination of ultra-fine acidity and fruit character that recalls the delicacy of truly fine cuisine. The entry is clean, showing mostly citrus fruit and a refreshing level of tartness. It swells significantly as things move towards the middle palate, with a well defined wash of precise flavour and a finely textured, supple mouthfeel. An undercurrent of minerality, and some sulphur-like notes, add a savoury undercurrent to proceedings. The finish is exceptionally long and fine, fading gently over time with an echo of citrus flowers. Perhaps it is their very elasticity that elevates some styles above others, weaving a consistent thread through a variety of expressions, and drawing them together into something overarching and identifiable. This may not be a steely, forbidding wine, but it's an Eden Riesling just the same, with delicate minerality and an overall lightness of touch despite the generous flavour profile. An expression of this style I'm grateful to have tasted. A tiny production of 80 cases to be released in June." 18.8/20 points Andrew Graham - "Oz Wine Review", Sydney "The picture below tells the story here - those lovely gnarled 75 year old Riesling vines are located in one of the highest vineyards in the Flaxman's Valley, sitting high above the Barossa floor in an epicentre for Riesling in Australia: The Eden Valley. Hand tended, dry grown, hand picked (even hand labelled), its these pieces of vinous history that are what makes this very fine Riesling so very fine. Green green in colour and youthfully bright. Lime, slate, lime cordial and just ripe peaches on the very expressive and open nose - the aromatics fairly leap out of the glass and seduce the room. Unsurprisingly, the soft and long palate follows the nose with a flow of limes, lime juice and general limey-ness. I have two conclusions with this wine: Firstly, only 80 dozen were produced and if the price stays the same, it may not last long. Secondly, I actually think this may never be more attractive - its so beautiful now that whilst the backbone will carry it through for many years yet, I think it deserves to be drunk young and delicious. 18.8/20

Tasting Notes: 2007 Eden Valley Riesling


PRODUCT: Karra Yerta Wines 2007 Eden Valley Riesling
VARIETY: Riesling
HARVESTED: February 25, 2007
BOTTLED: May 21, 2007
TA: 6.84g/ltr
PH: 2.89
PRODUCTION: 128 cases/dozen
CELLARING: drink now to 2020

This riesling was made by Peter Gajewski (ex-Penfolds) at Rocland Winery from 75 year old dry-grown, hand-picked grapes which are situated a mere few hundred metres to the west of the famous Ringland "Three Rivers" vineyard in the premium area of the Barossa Ranges. With crisp acid, notes of lemon and lime, white peach and honeydew. A superb example of an Eden Valley Riesling. Screwcap.

94++/100 points Philip White - "The Independent Weekly", Adelaide
"In the middle of the drought, I got bogged in this vineyard, in chill sideways rain.
And I was walking. Way up above Flaxman's gully on a ridge. Amazing old twisted bush vines as close as the Barossa gets to the skies. With all these utterly luscious limy fruits from tropics undiscovered, this is easily one of the best rizzas of the year. Viscous, yet strapping, and sinuous, with white peach and honeydew, custard, distant lime and further lemon, grainy, pithy tannin, all strapped around a shaft of natural acid, I dunno. I can't think of anything I'd rather be drinking right now. No food required. Maybe chevre' ."

94/100 points Gary Walsh - "Winefront"
"This is a tiny make of only 128 dozen with the fruit coming off 75-80 year old vines high in the Flaxmans Valley.

Almost water pale with subdued aromas of citrus, white peach, mineral, blossom and a faint fennel fragrance. On the palate this is delicate and refined with flavours of weak lemon barley water, lime and mineral. Fine boned and bone dry with crisp mouth-watering river pebble acidity and a long dry lemony aftertaste. An austere beauty that may develop into something special. Drink 2007 - 2017."

8.6/10 points Max Crus - "Grape Expectations", Sydney
"Many have fawned over this already so who am I to buck the trend? OK it is pretty good. Best served with a friend on the verandah with smoked salmon, capers and freshly cut grass"

Tasting Notes: 2006 Eden Valley Riesling


PRODUCT: Karra Yerta Wines 2006 Eden Valley Riesling
VARIETY: Riesling
HARVESTED: March 26, 2006
BOTTLED: August 23, 2006
TA: 7.35g/ltr
PH: 2.89
PRODUCTION: 100 cases/dozen
CELLARING: drink now to 2015

This riesling was made by Simon Adams at Rocland Winery from 75 year old dry-grown, hand-picked grapes which are situated a mere few hundred metres to the west of the famous Ringland "Three Rivers" vineyard in the premium area of the Barossa Ranges. With a gentle regional lime aroma and flavour, and a nice touch of minerality to provide balance, this wine should develop very well. Screwcap.

94/100 points Philip White - "The Independent Weekly", Adelaide
"While there's been a lot of theorising about this wine being not up to the standard of the mighty '05, there's no doubt that this is a stunner in its own right. It's maybe not as minerally and chalky as its predecessor, but it offers a different range of delights, immediately appearing more wholesome and approachable, with that impeccable blend of lemon, lime and cream that only truly great rieslings seem to achieve. I'd drink it with coq au vin."

90/100 points James Halliday - "2008 Wine Companion", Melbourne
"Gentle regional lime aroma and flavours, with a nice touch of minerality to provide balance; should develop very well. Screwcap. 13% alc. Rating: 90. To: 2015. $20"

91/100 points Gary Walsh - "Winefront", Sydney
"The vineyard site is obviously fine and distinctive and I think I can see similarities now between the two vintages. Both this and the 2007 share limey fruit, flinty minerality and a certain fine boned charm even though they are quite different wines to taste (and made by different winemakers). The fruit is hand-picked from 75-80 year old dry-grown vines located in the Flaxmans Valley.
Plenty to sniff at here with Schweppes lime cordial and fresh squeezed lime, mineral, spiced honey nuts and some petrolly development showing. On the palate intense limey fruit, mineral, spice and toast flavours. Sweet and juicy yet it feels pretty dry with flinty crunchy acid and a nice tight focussed palate that fades slightly at the end. Finishes dry, toasty and limey. It will cellar well for sure, but I'd bet it's going to develop plenty of Kero characters, so the decision largely depends on your personal tastes. I like it a lot right now. Drink 2008 - 2009."

Tasting Notes: 2005 Eden Valley Riesling


PRODUCT: Karra Yerta Wines 2005 Eden Valley Riesling
VARIETY: Riesling
HARVESTED: March 25, 2005
BOTTLED: July 5, 2005
ALCOHOL: 11.8%
TA: 8.63g/ltr
PH: 2.89
PRODUCTION: 150 cases/dozen
CELLARING: drink now to 2015

This riesling was made by Tim Smith at Rocland Winery from 75 year old dry-grown, hand-picked grapes which are situated a mere few hundred metres to the west of the famous Ringland "Three Rivers" vineyard in the premium area of the Barossa Ranges. With crisp acid, notes of lemon and lime. A fine austere Eden Valley Riesling. Screwcap.

94+/100 points Philip White - "The Independent Weekly", Adelaide
"Cool this, unscrew, pour your glass and ponder it while the bottle breathes for an hour or two in the fridge. Go again and you'll begin to realise the quiet force and huge cellaring potential of this mighty nesting from the Valkyrie uplands atop Flaxman's Gully. For this is Valkyrie wine; syrupy, dry, austere stone-and-muscle with Tim Smith's sensitive wine-making ensuring decades of safe maturation. Strong food: duck, beets and red cabbage."

90/100 points James Halliday - "Wine Companion", Melbourne
"A subdued bouquet, possibly due to subliminal reduction; much more power and length on the palate, with lime fruit and lemony acidity. Screwcap. Rating: 90 points. To: 2014."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bottling time and the new labels are finally on!

Our 2009 Eden Valley Riesling was bottled on Wednesday July 8th and after a very long wait, with many headaches in between, our revamped labels were printed last Friday so it is all systems go now for our new releases: the 2008 Karra Yerta Eden Valley Riesling and the 2006 Karra Yerta Shiraz Cabernet, and in a month or so, the 2009 Riesling. Already all of the pre-orders have been sent and/or delivered and samples have been sent to some of our regular choices of wine journalists so it will be interesting to hear their thoughts on both the wines and the new look of our products.

Both bottling and labelling wine is an incredibly expensive part of the process of creating your product and there is no room for costly errors so it is always appreciated when you find good businesses to deal with for these very important tasks. In the case of the bottling, we choose Kym Burgemeister - Boutique Bottlers (at Stockwell) as he is simply just so organised and not easily frazzled. Another small family business, Kym is often helped out by his wife Sandra and their children and I know that I can relax once our products are in his hands as they too understand the importance of doing a good job, no matter what size operation they are running.

Our labels on the other hand are produced by a larger company, Barossa Print Masters, who recently had the job of making the labels for Paul Stanley's (of KISS) newly released wine. But in saying that, we deal particularly with one lady from BPM and she is truly a gem: Kym Montgomery.

Kym is an exceptional person to have at your side for any aspect of the business as she is one of the handful of people I have met in the industry who really do go above and beyond to ensure that her clients have the best quality at the best price and as a bonus, she has the knowledge and foresight to completely understand what it is you are trying to create, sometimes even before it is clear in your own head. Simply amazing. As I went to "sign off" for the final time on Friday before the labels were printed, I completely entrusted any last minute decisions to her as I knew she was more than capable of getting me the product I was looking for. I must mention that the boys on the press who made our labels were fabulous also but that was actually the first time I had met them. A great job by all at BPM; thank you sincerely.

It is amazing really to think that even a winery as small as us can have costs of ten thousand dollars a year just on bottling and labelling, let alone wine-making.... Not much profit in it really but again, it does prove that the small guys really are not in it for the money, but for the passion of what we do. So in light of all the Constellation and Fosters press of late, please do consider buying smaller wineries wines (and not only Karra Yerta) as you are supporting the heart and soul of the industry when you support the smaller, family owned businesses, along the whole line from vineyard to labelling and bottling.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New Halliday rating and Barossa At Home review

It is finally time to catch our breath as the previous months have been exceptionally busy. The good news is that our new labels are due to be printed this week so our 2008 Eden Valley Riesling and 2006 Shiraz Cabernet will be on the shelves adorned with the revamped labels sometime in July. It has been a long process but finally we came up with a design that kept in line with our original branding but smartened it up somewhat. I cannot wait to see them on the bottles!

Another exciting event for the week was a rating and short review of our 2008 Riesling
(rated 4 and a half glasses and 92 points) from James Halliday so keep an eye out for the 2010 James Halliday Wine Companion to read James' full review. It normally hits the retail shelves in August.

Our Barossa At Home weekend was a success despite the last-minute cancellation of our dinner. We simply didn't sell enough tickets to make it a viable proposition but on speaking with other participants, we were not alone. That
did not dampen our spirits for the weekend's wine tastings and it certainly proved to be successful in sales and in meeting new faces who ventured out in the chilly weather. All going well, we may try to arrange a similar event (a tasting and dinner) with our Collective counterparts in the warmer months.

The art display by the Bethany Art Group brought extra
people out to visit us and it was terrific to see some of the artists attend. Their works were stunning and certainly brought the old stable to life. Many thanks to Tony and Phyl for all the work they did to get the display up in time.

James is getting organised to go to Brisbane for the Purple Palate events, and pruning in between. We have had lots of rain this winter so far and he has done well to keep on top of it. Not an easy task when he also has a full-time job elsewhere. It won't be long til I am up on the hill as well tying the vines on and before we know it, harvest will be here again.

As for now though, it is perfect weather for enjoying a glass of red at night by the fire. Winter is my favourite time of year and it is lovely to hear the squelching of the soil underfoot again. The vineyard is looking happy with itself and no doubt will do us well again this coming year after such good winter conditions.