Saturday, March 26, 2011

A new release, and some new reviews!

We officially released our 2009 Eden Valley Cabernet last week and sent out samples for the first time in what seemed like forever. I've been too busy to get to that rather important task since having the Collective Barossa shop open, but in my moments of waiting for customers and indeed, for vintage to start, I did send out a half dozen bottles to some of our regular wine writing friends, and even one to a 'new' taster:)

First review received on the Cabernet was from Philip White, and it was in the InDaily on March 23, 2011:

Karra Yerta Wines Special Release Barossa Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

$25; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 93+++ points ($3.01 a drink

“HEY Ma, the lightning just smote the blackberries!” So without turning to gooey, mucky jam, the whole dang crop’s just hanging there smouldering in a cloud of dust and blue ozone, with teasing whiffs of blueberry, mint, violets and eucalypt, naughty on the acrid summer breeze. There’s pleasing crème de cassis, too. It’s the prettiest, most adorable bouquet, as cute, humorous and totally fried as, say, Keith Richards at 30. The palate is lithe yet intense: like a small block Chevvy in very tight tune. James Linke made only 32 cases of this incredible, bone-honest high-country Cabernet from old vines and no water. It should cost you $100, or $150, if all the realities of such farming regimes are honestly acknowledged. $3.01 per standard drink? Nuts! Now for gratuitous wickedness; 10 years and pink lamb for hard-core cabernet perves.


Next is another review on our Cabernet - this one from Julian Coldrey from his site 'Fullpour' which you can read here:

Karra Yerta Wines Special Release Barossa Ranges Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

One of the benefits of writing a not-for-profit wine blog is that I can skew my tasting towards wines and producers in which I have a particular interest. So, when this wine arrived today, it shot straight to the top of the sample pile and indeed was quickly opened when I sat down to taste. I've enjoyed all the Karra Yerta wines I've tasted, to varying degrees of course, and I believe this is the first straight Cabernet I've tried from this producer. Grapes are sourced from High Eden, thirty two cases produced.

I was half expecting the down-home, earthy style I've enjoyed so much in Karra Yerta's Shiraz and Shiraz Cabernet wines, but this is a different beast, stylistically. The nose is positively squeaky with bright fruit and high toned aromas. I don't look to Barossa Cabernet for (what I consider) varietal character, and I'm not getting a lot of the cooler climate leaf and cassis typical of, say, Coonawarra Cabernet. In its place, a simpler and more accessible aroma profile, with edges of well-judged nougat oak.

The palate was initially both disjointed and confected, and for a moment I thought this might be the first Karra Yerta wine that disagreed with me. But just a few minutes of air has seen this really come together with dramatically increased complexity and a satisfying, acid-driven structure. It's a fundamentally bright, crowd-pleasing wine in style, though, and may not be everyone's idea of Cabernet. No matter - entry shows a gentle attack that builds quickly to a red fruited middle palate, all riding nicely textural acidity. Oak is a discernible yet subtle influence throughout, contributing vanilla and nougat in turn. The after palate gently darkens in profile before a soft, lightly tannic finish rounds things off.

Karra Yerta Wines
Price: $A25
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Posted by Julian on Monday, March 21, 2011


Finally, our 2010 Eden Valley Riesling was reviewed by Chris Plummer of Australian Wine Journal. His glowing review is here:

Karra Yerta Wines 2010 Eden Valley Riesling

- Eden Valley, SA
- $25
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

If there's such a thing as a blogger's favourite, then Karra Yerta Riesling may well be it. Messrs Coldrey, Graham and Pringle have had more good things to say about this wine than Eddie McGuire at a Nathan Buckley testimonial.

Quite simply, Karra Yerta's Riesling reflects a special vineyard that's clearly planted to the right variety. Made from 80 year old vines, it's elegantly scented with a classically austere fragrance of pebbles, mineral and chalk, given a perfumed lift by limey florals as well as a pinch of pear for good measure. On the palate however, it speaks volumes, by pumping an incredibly sumptuous depth of pure and youthful Eden Valley riesling flavour, honouring the amount of time its vineyard source has spent tapping into Mother Earth. It's utterly pristine and borderline transparent in the clarity of its saturated mineral and white pear flavour, but like a lot of the region's top 2010s, it thrusts into gear on a very long, wickedly limey finish, peppering the mouth with nuances of chalk and glistening acids which penetrate with searing precision. The whole package is remarkably well defined.

ü+ Distributors, sommeliers and independent retailers should take note; Karra Yerta's is as fine an impression of 2010 Eden Valley riesling as I've had. Drink to 2025.
95 points

New car, caviar, four star daydream. Think I'll buy me a football team.

Theoretically, this post should only be about reviews and vintage updates. Whilst we have had a few new reviews published in the past week (I will post them, in a separate post, after this blog entry), vintage 2011 for us, aside from the transporting of barrels of our 2009 and 2010 reds to our local bottling facility, has not yet started.

After months of summer-pruning, mowing (more than usual, due to the constant rains and higher growth rate), spraying (again, due to the unseasonal wet conditions), the laborious task of getting bird-netting on to protect the moreso than usual, valuable fruit, our vintage has looked a bit grim and as of today, though we have done a few baume' tests, not a single grape has been harvested from our special little hill-top vineyard.

Our eighty-year old riesling grapes are always the first to come off, and they are sitting, waiting, perhaps even sleeping in this cool weather, thinking that perhaps, this year they will amount to nothing. The flavours of the fruit are amazing. I tasted some juice only last week, and to think there may not be enough of a crop off the tiny block to warrant the high costs of processing (there is a minimum tonnage limit, so if we pick only one tonne, we still pay the fees for three tonne/five, or whatever it is - can't be bothered finding the contract, sorry), is a damn shame.
We usually pick between two to two and a half tonne but it's most doubtful that we will get near that in 2011.

Economic viability is important, no matter how passionate one is. It simply will not be in our best interest to spend so much money on making a fabulous wine, that to make it worthwhile, we would have to charge $35 or $40 a bottle for. Maybe more, even. I think you get the idea. Our reds will be the same, but the costs are more drawn out, so that decision will be made at the time that it needs to be made.

Our grapes all taste amazing, and an article in last week's local paper quoted the very talented Louisa Rose, as saying that the flavours will be magnificent, despite the difficult conditions. Crops are down, state-wide more than likely. Too much rain, and the lack of the usual South Australian hot dry summer has been a little too much for the vines to bear. I guess we can't have a cracker year, every year. Ask the cereal farmers.

From my perspective, the Barossa and Eden Valleys, and the people, seem somewhat in limbo. I'm sure we are not the only region. Normally, the roads are full of hustle and bustle. During a normal vintage, as I drive to work each day, the vineyards are lined with cars, pickers' heads popping up and down throughout random vineyards, harvesters or tractors holding me up as I travel down Mengler's Hill. Quite simply, it appears to be happening in dribs and drabs, as opposed to its usual ferocity. Some people's faces are showing the stress of their hard work of the previous year amounting to little product or payment.

As stated in my recent
Fear and Loathing post, it's already a savage industry. It's about to get worse. Some families/wineries may not make it; if the sale of the grapes fall through ie no crops, or not good enough quality. Botryitis is rife, in many South Australian vineyards. We have all battled mildew. It's hard work running a vineyard and at times like this, I am grateful that our incomes from the grapes and wine are not responsible for feeding our family, or paying the household bills. I am also thankful that Karra Yerta has enough stock from previous vintages to tide us over at the Collective Barossa shop, if at worst, we produce hardly any wine under our label, this year.

My heart goes out to those who are struggling, and my admiration to those who are in their vineyards, probably right now, cutting the diseased bunches out slowly, and thoroughly, by hand so that their crops will be as good as possible. No doubt, as Louisa Rose said, there is the potential to have some absolutely stunning wines produced from this incredibly difficult season.

It's going to be a struggle, and the good thing about the Barossa is that our german heritage stands us in good stead to put our heads down, work hard, and find a way through. I'm not sure how some will manage, but they will. The money factor will be hard and no doubt there will be many struggles to find funds to pay the bills, but Mother Nature has made it clear, that from all levels, perhaps only the strong will survive.

Sometimes, as much as we rely on it, "Money" is not the thing that gives us the resilience we need - sometimes it's the passion. On that note, I am off to buy myself a football team...... Or, perhaps just watch one, whilst indulging in a fine glass of Barossa red, and pondering as to when, or if, I will have to wash out the grape-buckets.

PS. The photo below, of vines on Basedow Road, Tanunda, was taken on November 24, 2010. This photo pretty well sums up what most of our summer weather has been like. Not what it should be, at all.