Yalumba Rare & Fine Dinner - The Downs Club - Aug 2017

#thewinesmithselfie with @barossasaint herself Jane Ferrari  

#thewinesmithselfie with @barossasaint herself Jane Ferrari  

Yalumba was the first wine dinner I ever went to. I have fond memories of the event hosted by Jane Ferrari. That was 10 years ago. Needless to say I was looking forward to tonight, especially seeing Jane would be hosting again. 

Jane's in depth knowledge of Yalumba's finest was plain to see. The great mix of wine info, comedy, poetry and story-telling made for an entertaining night for the 80 guests.


All the starters were great. The scallops, chorizo skewers and crumbed asparagus went particularly well with our first two wines.

I've discovered Vintage Jansz is so different to the everyday NV version. So much more power and depth. The 2011 is a Chardonnay dominant Pinot Noir blend. It's full of biscuit dough yeasty goodness with peach nuances and a very persistent mousse. 93 points

The Block 2 Old Bush Vine Grenache Rose was a new one for me. Pale salmon in colour & the wild ferment giving some funk the aroma. It's almost aged Riesling-like with a hint of kerosine.

The palate is fleshed out with subtle raspberry and strawberry and finishes long and dry. A really unique rose and one I'm glad I had opportunity to try. 91 points

Tonight's menu went a little something like this... 

Tonight's menu went a little something like this... 

The food from The Downs Club is always great. 

The salmon dish was amazing! So much so that I forgot to take a photo of it. 

The caramelised onion & garlic hummus was an interesting side but worked amazingly well with the Virgilius Viognier.

Virgilius holding a slight green hue these days

Virgilius holding a slight green hue these days

I've tried a number of vintages of Virgilius before. They always seem heavy laiden with fruit and one glass was enough for me.  The current vintage looks very sleek and elegant by comparison.

Even the colour is slightly different. The photo shows the wine has a slight green tinge to it. I've always found them to be a golden yellow.

The typical apricot aroma and flavour are leaner by comparison. It still carries the striking Virgilius length but it is lighter and shimmers as it's driven along by the acidity. Overall I would say the Virgilius has shed a few pounds and I like it's bright and fresh new direction. 94 points

Hiding under here was a glorious herbed flat mushroom 

Hiding under here was a glorious herbed flat mushroom 

Both Cabernet, Shiraz blends were a great match with our steak. I've got to say the steak was on of the most tender pieces of red meat I have had in a long time. Stunning really!

The 2013 Signature is a strong slightly stern wine. It had been double decanted and open for a number of hours to help coax it out of it's den. It seemed to be reluctantly complying  

The wine actually has a beautiful dark colour and smells great, but at this stage in it's life the fruit is tight. It is carrying heaps of oak at the moment too. It worked well with the food with the oak really tidying up the finish to leave the mouth feeling clean. I'm sure it will settle down with time & probably be long lived. This is one to lie down in the cellar for a 3-5 years yet. 93 points

The 2012 FDR1A by comparison was screaming at us to be drunk now. It's a darker berry red colour but !WOW! the aroma leaps out of the glass to grab you by the nose with effortless power. "This is core lift" explained Jane. 

The Steeple won the night for me. FDR1A a close 2nd!

The Steeple won the night for me. FDR1A a close 2nd!

There is buckets of dark berries, cassis and a touch of rosemary going on here. The same juicy fruits are on show in the mouth with a delicious silky mouthfeel. Fine dry tannins and impressive length on the back palate. I thought this was going to win the night for me. 95 points

There's no denying it! The 2012 vintage in South Australia produced some amazing wines. Although 2013 was good, it's a ompletely different beast.

"The 2012 vintage was the George Clooney of vintages. It's smooth, full of charm, class and opulence" says Jane.

"And 2013 was Wolverine by comparison. It's strong and assertive, but with a lot more hair!" 

I've always found Jane's analogies within reach and amusingly accurate. It's inspirational! This is exactly why she is so good at her job.

Out rolled the next two wines...


I have drunk Yalumba's Octavius Shiraz a number of times before too. Each year it looks high and handsome.

This year the colour is a beautiful crimson purple and a very elegant aroma of boysenberry and vanilla greets you. 

There's ample dark fruits to be found on the palate. Firm oak give it drive and acidity gives it lift. The stylistically-Yalumba finish is again long, and clean.

Although it is a good wine, it was purhaps a little underwhelming in this lineup. It almost looks a little too lean. After drinking the 2012 FDR1a I was expecting more depth. The 2013 Octavius may flesh out further with time, but for me right now it's 93 points.


The Steeple is a $70 cellar door only product which I've never sampled it before.

The colour has developed rust tinged edges and like the FDR1A it billows from the glass. Rich plum fruits and cinnamon spice topped by a slightly sweet caramel notes are all easily distinguishable in the core lift. (I'm going to use that term from now on Jane)

Opulent is the only way to describe the palate. All the dark fruit flavours are layered in there. Plums, mulberry, boysenberry, blueberry. It offers a full bodied palate with further layered flavours of molasses, leather, licorice bullets, clove and black pepper spice. The power of this wine is amazing, yet it well controlled by toasty oak and perfectly judged acidity. The back palate is silky smooth and rolls on for minutes. 

This is one exclusive and very special wine.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to sample it tonight. 96 points

A chilly night braved by 80 guests

A chilly night braved by 80 guests

Many many thanks must go to Paul and his team at The Downs Club. They did a stellar job as always. Thanks again to Jane, Jo & Judd from Yalumba.  I can see why this is one of your favourite gigs of the year!