Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yarrh 2004 Sangiovese (Canberra)

This wine, along with several of Bryan Martin's Ravensworth sangiovese wines, convinced me that sangiovese could be a good fit with the Canberra District. I bought a six pack and have followed them over the last six years.

The Yarrh vineyard is in Murrumbateman, closer to Ken Helm's site than it is to Clonakilla or Quarry Hill. It's a sloping site, wrapped around with native vegetation, including reveg plantings, topped off with a well-designed winery and cellar door. While the vineyard has some good air drainage, frost, disease and drought pressures, as well as sangiovese being a tricky prospect in the district, mean that a crop of quality each year is far from certain.

The 2004 as a younger wine had expressive cherry fruit and an attractive mix of nutty tannins and dried herb varietal characters. Through the bottles had between 2006 and 2009, these characters remained, topped up by a little tannin softening and bottle development. But this bottle suggested a wine on the downhill run. The nose has unstitched itself from the rest of the wine, turning dry-reddish rather than varietal. The varietal characters are still there on the palate, but they are fading, with the bones of the wine poking through.

Matched with a tray-roast of chicken thighs, onion, carrot, tomato, thyme, rosemary, oil and red vinegar, the wine clearly had its best days behind it. Still drinkable, it has lost the characters that attracted me to it over the past four bottles. Still good to follow these wines over time though.

Yarrh Wines, $25, screwcap, 14% alcohol.

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