Xanadu, Yering Station

by Vic Harradine

Xanadu winery

Xanadu winery is in Margaret River, Western Australia and owned by the Rathbone family along with Mount Langi Ghiran (reviewed in the previous winecurrent newsletter and still available on the www.winecurrent.com site) and Yering Station in the Yarra Valley, Victoria. Xanadu has a bagful of medals and trophies for their wine both in Australia and internationally. We don’t see their wines often, we see few Margaret River wines in general, probably due to the high demand for their wines in Australia and all over the world plus the limited production of their mostly family-owned wineries.

Xanadu Winery

We arrived at Yering Station after about an hour’s drive from Melbourne and were greeted by Gordon Gebbie, Commercial Director for Yering and Xanadu for the Rathbone’s after beginning his career with them in 1998. He’s a winemaker and wine judge with many years of study and experience including international travel, an Agricultural Science degree from Melbourne U., an oenology degree from Roseworthy and Masters Degree in International Business. He was kind enough to supply the following Xanadu wines for tasting and take us through the process with words of wisdom regarding Xanadu and their fine wine. Reviews of those wines follow:

• The following Xanadu ‘DJL’ is primarily sauvignon blanc and named for Xanadu founder and Margaret River wine pioneer, Dr. John Lagan—it was 40% whole-bunch pressed and wild-yeast fermented in French oak barrique, 10% new, left on its lees and stirred for several months.

****1/2 drink now
Xanadu ‘DJL’ Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2016
Margaret River, Western Australia $24.00 13.0% alcohol
This interesting blend—71% sauvignon blanc/27% semillon—also has a tiny (2%) splash of muscadelle as do many Bordeaux whites, especially Sauternes. It wafts from the glass with perfumed aromas of citrus, tropical fruit and sprigs of savory herbs. It bathes the palate with a crisp, refreshing stream of delicious, balanced flavour with ripe pear, apple, lemon curd and gunflint minerality to the fore persisting through the clean, tangy finish. This drink-me-now gem is certainly worth a try. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ Chardonnay 2016
Margaret River, Western Australia $19.00 12.5% alcohol
This is excellent value with the price-quality balance tipped well in your favour. Baking spice, sweet vanilla and orchard fruit aromas precede a generously textured, deftly balanced flow of racy tang—lemon curd and white grapefruit—nicely ameliorated with ripe fruit—nectarine and yellow plum. This showcases persistent purity of fruit, good mouthfeel and a crisp, clean finish. What’s not to like? (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following 2016 Xanadu ‘DJL’ chardonnay was sourced primarily from the Gingin clone, whole-bunch pressed and barrel fermented with ambient yeast in French oak, 25% new, spending 9-10 months on lees, with stirring, and no malolactic conversion.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Xanadu ‘DJL’ Chardonnay 2016
Margaret River, Western Australia $24.00 13.0% alcohol
This opens with delicate aromas of floral, citrus and spice before shifting into overdrive on the palate with a creamy smooth river of spice-laden, tang-infused flavour—Meyer lemon and wisps of blood orange and Granny Smith apple interweave with ripe pear, nutty notes and notions of white nectarine. It’s balanced, with structure, complexity, purity of fruit and a lengthy, lip-smacking finish. Excellent now, much better after two more years in bottle. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following 2015 Xanadu ‘DJL’ chardonnay was sourced from 100% Gingin clone, whole-bunch pressed and 100% barrel fermented with wild yeast in French oak, 25% new, spending 9 months on lees, with stirring, and no malolactic conversion.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Xanadu ‘DJL’ Chardonnay 2015
Margaret River, Western Australia $37.00 13.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas bound from the glass with piquant spice, pit fruit and nutty nuances. It envelops the palate with purity of fruit and balanced-on-a-pin flavours of grilled pineapple, ripe pear, tangy citrus and sharp minerality. It’s medium-plus weight with depth and complexity finishing in a burst of glorious, crunchy flavour and tang. It was certainly tough to spit. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 Xanadu ‘Reserve’ chardonnay ups the ante a bit with the price, and even more with the wine. All fruit was 100% Gingin clone, handpicked and sourced from the oldest plot—almost 50 years old—of the estate’s chardonnay vines, whole-bunch pressed and 100% barrel fermented with wild yeast in French oak, 30 % new, spending 9 months on lees, with stirring, and no malolactic conversion, after which a strict barrel selection was made with this wine taken from those best barrels, hence the, ‘Reserve’ designation—the crème de la crème, so to speak.

***** drink or cellar
Xanadu ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2015
Margaret River, Western Australia $85.00 13.0% alcohol
Lifted, involved aromas of mineral/flinty notes mingle with toast and citrus fruit. It streaks over the palate with crunchy, laser-like, fresh citrus acidity—grapefruit, pineapple and lemon—juxtaposed with a gusher of ripe, spicy, unctuous fruit flavour—poached pear, baked apple and yellow peach. This struts its stuff with confidence and swagger; there’s purity of fruit, good balance and a mouth-watering, crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste. If given the opportunity—and you fish in these high-end waters—I highly recommend a purchase. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following 2013 Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ shiraz was sourced in the southern sub-regions of Margaret River—Wallcliffe and Karridale. It spent 14 months maturing in French oak barrique, 25% new.

**** drink or cellar
Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ Shiraz 2013
Margaret River, Western Australia $18.00 14.0% alcohol
Spirited aromas of red berry fruit and piquant spice provide segue for a crunchy, tang-infused line of red currant, cranberry and passionfruit streaking across the palate decorated with sharp spice, savory herbs and underpinned by a firm tannin structure that’s easily ameliorated with a two-hour aeration/decant. You’ll also find dark, ripe fruit peeking through on the back palate. There’s 1% viognier here to give the aromas and flavours a lift. This is medium-plus bodied with a lingering, lip-smacking finish. Pour with gourmet sausage or pasta in tomato sauce. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Xanadu ‘Exmoor’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Margaret River, Western Australia $18.00 14.0% alcohol
The price-quality balance tips well in your favour—this has 10% malbec and 4% Petit Verdot and spent 14 months maturing in French oak barrique, 15% new. Minty chocolate and dark cherry aromas and flavours abound on the nose also coating the palate, infusing the lengthy finish and aftertaste adorned with toasty oak, vanilla and cassis. This dishes up deft balance, medium weight and generous mouthfeel along with sense of purpose and a boatload of charm. (Vic Harradine)

Yering Station

We tasted through wines with Chief Winemaker, Willy Lunn who we met briefly on a previous visit in 2010. Yering Station is steeped in history, this is Victoria’s oldest vineyard site with vines being planted here in 1838. Unfortunately, they were pulled in the early 1900s with vines not being replanted until 1988. Blessed with a variety of soils and sites—from the Yarra Valley floor to higher elevations—Yering Station has been identified by respected Langton’s as one of Australia’s emerging star wineries. A recent partnership with Champagne Devaux of France produced ‘Yarrabank’ a traditional method sparkling wine made at Yering Station.

Yering Station Chief Winemaker - Willy Lunn

With a quarter century of winery involvement and a degree in Applied Science (Oenology) from Adelaide University behind him, Chief Winemaker, Willy Lunn, is still as passionate as a first-day cellar hand, putting his personal stamp on the wine under his care. “Most of our grapes are chardonnay, shiraz and pinot noir and my goal is to allow all the fruit and the specific sites where it’s grown to make their statement. Everything that’s done here in the winery is in a supportive role—important and meticulously handled—but it’s what happened in the vineyard before and as we harvest that dictates the quality of the wine and we do everything in our power to get that right.” The reviews below bare out their incredible success in certainly getting it right.

****1/2 drink now
Yering Station ‘Little Yering’ Chardonnay 2015
Yarra Valley, Victoria $18.00 13.5% alcohol
This crowd-friendly, crowd-pleasing chardonnay rips from the glass with aromas of citrus, floral notes, minerality and ripe orchard fruit. It meanders across the palate, crisp, clean and refreshing with flinty/mineral notes interwoven with ripe pear and apple, nutty notes and baking spice. It finishes with replays and provides a crisp finish for the lengthy mouth-watering aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2016 Yering Station ‘Village’ chardonnay was 100% barrel fermented and spent eleven months in French oak barrel 228L and 300L, just 10% new.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Yering Station ‘Village’ Chardonnay 2016
Yarra Valley, Victoria $24.00 13.0% alcohol
This creamy smooth gem opens with lifted aromas of nutty notes, baking spice and lemon tart. It races over the palate with laser-like focus with racy lemon, tang-infused grapefruit and crunch passionfruit flavours. It’s medium weight with very generous mouthfeel and a lingering lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour alongside freshly shucked oysters, prawn ceviche or sushi. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2014 Yering Station ‘Village’ pinot noir was hand and machine picked from 2 low-yielding plots – 3 t/acre – of MV6 and 777 pinot noir clones aged 9 – 14 years.

****1/2 drink now
Yering Station ‘Little Yering’ Pinot Noir 2016
Yarra Valley, Victoria $18.00 13.0% alcohol
Savory herbs, piquant spice and red berry fruit aromas unleash a glorious wash of palate-bathing flavour—ripe, red berry fruit adorned with passionfruit, beetroot, spice and earthiness. It’s medium weight and nicely textured showcasing excellent tang and acidity, spice-infused flavours and a lengthy, dry, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Pour alongside grilled or pan-seared salmon or tuna. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Yering Station ‘Village’ pinot noir 2015 was all hand-picked from 11-16-year-old pinot vines – MV6 and 777 clones – fermented in open-top fermenters and spent eleven months maturing in French oak barrel 228L and 300L, just 10% new.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Yering Station ‘Village’ Pinot Noir 2015
Yarra Valley, Victoria $24.00 13.0% alcohol
This is a lovely Pinot from twist top to last drop. Grilled savory herbs and toasty notes mingle with earthy aromas preceding a rich and luscious flow of racy pie cherry, tangy red currant and sweet vanilla. This is complex and structured with a delectably long, dry, lip-smacking finish. Punching above the price, it offers good value. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 Yering Station pinot noir was machine and hand picked from very low-yielding – 2½ t/acre, 12-25 year-old vines of MV6 clone pinot noir before a 5-day cold soak and whole-berry fermentation in 5 tonne open fermenter. It then matured 11 months in 300L French oak barrel, 20% new.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Yering Station Pinot Noir 2015
Yarra Valley, Victoria $40.00 13.0% alcohol
Smoke, leather and earthy aromas interweave with red cherry and floral notes on the nose of this dazzling pinot—it’s a top drop now and will improve with another year or so in bottle. A full-bore gusher of ripe berry fruit—mouth-watering red and black bramble berry, oaky notes and mocha blanket the palate persisting through the lingering finish and aftertaste. There’s persistent purity of fruit, firm structure and a confident swagger to this. Aerate/decant three hours pouring with boeuf Bourguignon or coq au vin. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Yering Station ‘Little Yering’ Shiraz 2015
Yarra Valley, Victoria $18.00 13.8% alcohol
This is delicious shiraz hitting all the high notes in a drink-me-now style. Mint, spice and peppery notes interlace with dark berry fruit aromas on this medium-bodied, nicely textured red. It envelopes the palate with crunchy, lively fruit—red currant and pie cherry—adorned with ripe dark cherry, peppery spice and minty notes persisting through the lively, mouth-watering aftertaste. The price-quality ratio skews well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)