Monday, April 26, 2010

Wine Review: Two Yellow Tails for Tuesday!

Yellow Tail is Australia's largest exporter and the number one wine (by volume) imported into the United States. This winery just exploded in the last ten years in the US market. In 2001, 200,000 cases of Yellow Tail were sold in the US. By 2008, that number had reached 8-million. That is a lot of wine!

Given the volume of wine sold under this label, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to explode the content level here and give you all a Two-for-Tuesday! Here they go, the 2009 Shiraz and the auspicious 2008 Reserve Shiraz.

Yellow Tail's Shiraz is up first. This is the exporter's flagship and I would guess the number-one selling red wine in America. Why? Volume, price and marketing. The shiraz/syrah grape makes up 25% of the red harvest in Australia. The brand is able to sell it at a very accessible price of $6.99. Lastly, the non-pretentious, fun, eye-catching yellow label just jumps off the shelf. Not to mention the fact that this label is plastered all over billboards, delivery trucks, and media of all sizes.

But does it live up to all the hype? Well, yes... and no.

The nose gives up a cherry vanilla aroma right away, but holds back on the rest. Maybe I'm just not smelling good tonight because I'm getting more out of this in the sip. There is a strong, perhaps over-oaked quality to the taste. However, other notes do sing through. A bit of black-tea comes in - or maybe I'm just confusing that with the tannins - but I really get a slight tea flavor as well as some fruit. There is strawberry, a bit of blackberry... a pinch or two of prune juice. It has that somewhat oily quality like i just licked a prune. Very interesting. Still, this really is by far NOT the sweetest of the week here in our trip down under. In fact, this wine really has a very bitter mid palate.

There is a little bit of clove in the mix as well. The finish is moderate and departs with a somewhat unsettling green pepper aftertaste.

3 of 5 glasses

Next up, Yellow Tail's Reserve Shiraz...

The reserve, from 2008, rings in a a somewhat heftier $10.99. It has a super dark cherry red color, and exceeds the '09 Shiraz in depth of color and viscosity. This wine has got some legs for a budget bottle.

The nose is a bit like a chocolate cherry - the candy kind. Not fresh out of the box, mind you! Not that somewhat cardboard-like, mass-produced chocolate... okay - maybe the mass produced kind. Imagine someone just bit into a cheap chocolate cherry from a box they picked up at the drug store... then they held it under your nose... that's the smell. That, and a bit of blueberry... a touch of oak... a twist of cracked pepper.

The flavors are interesting. Chocolate comes through quickly, but the blueberry steals the show. There is also a good sampling of blackberry and other dark fruit coming through in the mid palate. This is all accompanied by a bit of vanilla. The tannins are smooth and rounded. It dissipates in a bit of a green apple finish.

I can't say this is more interesting than the '09 Shiraz - but it is certainly better in its execution. The flavors work together. The structure is more coherent. The flavors are less bitter. On the other hand, it's about $4 more... but at $11.99 it's still quite a nice price.

3.5 of 5 glasses

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