Wine Talk

Snooth User: John Andrews

Yalumba Tasting - November 2010

Posted by John Andrews, Nov 28, 2010.


Thanks to Snooth and Yambula I was given the opportunity to try 3 separate Yamluba wines.  Yambula supplied 3 of their wines with the only one request, provide honest reviews of the wines on Snooth.  Those of you that know me this is something I can’t say no to.

First a little bit of Yalumba.  Yalumba is the oldest family owned winery in Australia.  They have been making wine since 1849.  That makes it older than any US winery (some US labels have been around that long but prohibition screwed things up).  And, it is in its 5th generation of family ownership.  Based in the Barossa Valley outside of Adelaide, Yalumba owns and sources grapes from across Australia.  As always, you can find a plethora of information on the internet.  For Yalumba, the best place to start is their own website:

The three wines that Yalumba provided were:

  • 2008 Patchwork Shiraz – 100% Shiraz – Matured for 6 months in new American hogsheads & octaves (10%), new French octaves, barriques & hogsheads (5%).   Balance in older hogsheads and barriques.  13.5% alcohol
  • 2008 The Scribbler – Cabernet/Shiraz blend – The Signature’s little brother and almost even parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.  Matured for 12 months in 18% new oak barrels. The oak origin is; 59% American, 35% French and 6% Hungarian.  14% alcohol
  • 2004 The Signature – Cabernet/Shiraz blend – Yalumba’s top wine in most years.  In special years, there will be a Reserve and in great years, the rare FDR1A  (Fine Dry Red 1A).  Matured for 22 months, 24% new American oak hogsheads, 14% new Hungarian oak hogsheads, 10% new French oak hogsheads & barriques; 15% 1 year old hogsheads – American (13%) & French (2%); 37% 2 year old American & French hogsheads.  14.5% alcohol

With exception of The Signature the wines are current releases.  Based on the information on the Yalumba website, the 2005 Signature is the current release.  My plan was to try these three wines with friends with food to see three things:

  • What they are like initially
  • What they taste like with food
  • How the evolve over time

At first, I didn’t think this was a far comparison but after looking at the website and seeing that all the wines were basically current releases, it made sense.   

Since we had a variety of wines here we needed to try them with a variety of foods.  They are all robust reds so the food had to be hearty too.  We had Beef Wellington, Roast Rack of Lamb & Baked Penne Pasta with two types of sausages as the mains.  The tasters were:

  • Adam & Erinn – a couple that has traveled the world tasting wines.  They may not be wine professionals but they know what they like and are not afraid to let you know
  • Patricia – our host who loves to cook and is the leader of an all female tasting group.  Patricia is what I call a super-taster.  She can pick out flavours that I miss.  She needs to harness this skill.
  • Jeff – assistant wine maker and most knowledgeable of the group when it comes to the details of wine making and the technical aspects of wine.  He can tell you what is wrong with a wine before he tells you what he likes about it.
  • Myself (John aka HondaJohn) – hobbiest in the wine industry, sometimes frequent contributor to the Snooth Forums and a guy that likes to think he knows what he is talking about when it comes to wine.

The order in which we tried the wines was:

  1. 2008 The Scribbler – Cabernet/Shiraz blend
  2. 2004 The Signature – Cabernet/Shiraz blend
  3. 2008 Patchwork Shiraz – 100% Shiraz

Each of the wines was opened 90 minutes before tasting and before the food was ready.  The goal was to try the wines before food, with food and after food.  This would give initial impressions, how it paired with food and see how it evolved over time.  Below are the impressions.

2008 The Scribbler:

John:  Overall this wine was very tight when first tasted.  There were notes of caramel, red fruit & spice in both the nose and taste.  Opened up with food, and made spice more prominent.  Definitely young wine and think it would be better in 2 years.

Erinn: Liked the wine but noted that the finish was very short.  Liked the balance felt it was too early (young) to drink.  It fell in the middle of the group for Erinn.

Adam:  Noted that the alcohol showed right away.  It is a full body wine but not showing much right away.  Like Erinn, this was Adam’s second rated wine. 

Jeff:  Ripe, full body wine but it needs more time as it was more one dimensional right now.  Out of this group of wines, Jeff felt this to be the least ready to drink and as such rated it third. 

Patricia:  Picked up the caramel and spice in the wine.  Patricia remarked that food definitely complements and changes the wine.  The lamb definitely brought out the spice in the wine.  Patricia felt this is the best everyday wine and that it paired well with all the foods served.

2004 The Signature:

John:   The cabernet in this wine definitely shows through.  Nice aged character beginning to show.  Showed spice, clove and dark fruit.  There was some initial heat and some nice tannin to the wine.

Erinn:  Liked this one a lot. Big earth wine with a nice long finish. This was the wine that Erinn liked the most out of the group.  The age and the blend definitely made this the top choice.

Adam:    Announced this was his favourite early on.  Adam liked the nice long finish of the wine and liked how it paired with the food and, as with his wife, named this his top wine of the group. 

Jeff:  Liked that this was the most integrated of the wines.  All elements worked well together from flavours, to acid, to the tannin.  Noted that there were strong elements of clove, vanilla and spice.

Patricia:  Something about this wine did not work for Patricia.  She liked that it felt most integrated but, initially, didn’t work with the food.  Patricia did comment that it was the wine that seemed to evolve the most over the event.

2008 Patchwork:

John:   Tasted the youngest of all the wines.  Has bright fruit offset by some earthiness.  Finish was a bit short but was not over ripe flavours that some Aussie Shiraz have.  Didn’t as work as well with food for me as the other wines.

Adam:  Had one very interesting comment about this wine.  It tastes like a cabernet.  Probably because this wine has a lot of structure and is produced in a way to emphasize all the elements of the wine rather than just the fruit.

Erinn:   Like Adam, this was her least favourite of the group.  I can see that there similar interest in wines is one of the reasons why they are married!  Not that there was anything wrong with it.  When compared to The Scribbler or The Signature it was the least favourite. 

Jeff:  Felt that this wine was muted from the start.  It needed time to open up and he felt that this wine had more potential than the Scribbler.  He listed as his second wine out of the group.

Patricia:  Patricia found this one out of place with the other two.  Not there was anything wrong with it but it did not compare to the other two wines.  She did comment that after dinner the wine was significantly ‘better’ than when tasted initially.

What was agreed by all of the tasters is that these are all very good quality wines with no defects.  They each have a time and place.  Everyone agreed that they all improved over the course of the meal and after.  This lead all of us to comment that the wines would benefit from 2 or 3 years in the bottle.   When ranked, 4 out 5 people ranked The Signature #1 with the other ranking The Scribbler #1.  Patchwork & Scribbler were equally distributed second and third.  Last thing of note, the prices of the wine were not revealed or discussed until after everyone gave their rankings.


Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 28, 2010.


Nice well set out review.

Being a South Aussie, I know a lot of the Yalumba team.

The Scribbler has become one of their recent success stories and has really made its mark in that very competitive $15-20 bottle range.

Patchwork Shiraz is a relatively recent addition to their stable and is a good solid barossa shiraz in the $15-20 range.

If you get a chance you should try and arrange a riesling tasting as they take great pride in their single vineyard riesling blocks - Pewsey Vale and Heggies.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 29, 2010.

Good review, John. Look forward to more with this level of detail....

Reply by John Andrews, Nov 29, 2010.

@StephenHarvey ... Thanks for the info.  I'd love to try some of the Yalumba Rieslings.  They are a little tougher to find here but I will look out for them.  

@dmcker ... you know I love doing these.  It is just finding the time to get everything together. 

Reply by outthere, Nov 29, 2010.

OK, here's my take. Not as scientific. One taster (Me) over 2 days.

08 Scribbler - Pop N Pour - Ruby color, fruity Syrah forest floor nose. Light to medium on the palate with lots of spice, good acidity and building fruit. Not tatsting the Cab Sauv much but really liking the Shiraz. After a couple hours I get some bacon fat on the nose, the fruit backs down and the spice kicks in. On Day 2 I get a similar nose to yesterday. In the mouth the spice has backed down and the fruit is taking center stage with some meaty Cab finally showing up. Finishes medium with smooth semi-drying tannins. Liked it.

04 Signature - Deep garnet in the glass with brick edges. Nose showing cola, eucalyptus and mint. Interesting palate of tobacco and a vegetal (green bean) hint with menthol and barnyard notes. After some air, palate medium bodied with red a green bell pepper, more tobacco, spice and firm slightly grippy tannins. On Day 2 I'm still getting the green on the palate but it is finishing with a heavy dose of black olive from the cabernet which isn't my style. A much more complex wine than the Scribbler but the olive is throwing me off. Maybe it's just in a morphing stage. Maybe it's just me. Interesting.

08 PatchworkPop and Pour - Dark ruby, nose closed, palate spicy and fruity. After 30 minutes in the glass I felt like I was waiting for the bread dough to rise. Big yeasty bread dough aroma permeated the air. @ 1 hour it had some perfume on the nose, a big fruity palate with some residual yeast. Re-corked. Day 2 - Still smell the bread dough otherwise the nose is pretty reserved. Big juicy, fruity, jammy palate with a hint of dusty tannins on the medium finish. Day 3 - Still huge fruit with a mid-palate Syrah tartness showing through and a bit of spice. The tannins are there but still hiding out. Alcohol was hidden pretty much all 3 days. Overall this needs to rest and find itself. 3 days wasn't enough so give this one some time or some serious air. I'd like to revisit it in a couple years and see where it goes. Enjoyable bottle just need to be patient.

Reply by napagirl68, Nov 30, 2010.

GREAT review, HJ, and yours too, Outthere!  I will be tasting mine Friday, and will contribute to this thread.  Am excited to taste them, and curious to see what my california plate has to offer :-)

Reply by rolifingers, Nov 30, 2010.

Your Review:

Yalumba Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz 2008 $22.00Upon pouring I received very nice peppery notes (I had to keep sniffing).Ox blood red in color with a pinkish ring.This wine had nice tannins but not much acidity.It is medium bodied and I loved keeping it on my tongue for a while (I do this when I really like a wine).After decanting some of the wine for 1/2 an hour the nose was a little fainter but the structure remained.I saved some of the wine in bottle for the next day without syphoning the air or using any sort of gas, and the wine was even better than the previous day.The structure held up very well.I would definitely drink this again. Cheers!

Reply by rolifingers, Nov 30, 2010.

Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz Barbossa 2008 $18.00Upon pouring the wine it had a faint but pleasant nose.Purple in color and it's body was on the lighter side of medium (think Beaujolais).Not very tannic but had nice acidity.This would go good with fatty foods. After decanting some of the wine for 1/2 an hour the nose was very faint and seemed less acidic.After 4 hours in the bottle the nose was non excistantI would have this again but for $18.00 I think the wine should at least hold together till the next day without imploding.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Dec 1, 2010.


I will get hold of the 08 Patchwork and see if I get the same outcome and let you know


Reply by rolifingers, Dec 1, 2010.


Give it a go, see what you think.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Dec 1, 2010.

Thanks for all the great and detailed reviews.  Here are my tasting notes on the Patchwork and Signature.  I liked them both and my bottle of Patchwork seems to have faired better than Roli's did. 


Dark redish purple color with a nose of blueberries, pepper, spice and chocolate. The palate features red fruit and plum with some nice supporting tartness in the background. The finish includes semi-sweet chocolate, pepper and black cherry.

On day two there were noticeable notes of cinnamon read more... coming out on the nose and palate.    Signature:
Deep inky purple in color. The nose has lots of dark red fruit and peat with hints of pepper and leather that leads to a palate of clean dark berry, cracked pepper and some tart cedar tannins. With air notes of semi-sweet chocolate begin to show on the nose and palate

On day two more notes of pepper read more... start to come out.

This is a nice big, full bodied wine. The Cab and Shiraz really seem to blend and compliment each other.   

Reply by outthere, Dec 1, 2010.

Deep inky purple in color. The nose has lots of dark red fruit and peat with hints of pepper and leather that leads to a palate of clean dark berry, cracked pepper and some tart cedar tannins. With air notes of semi-sweet chocolate begin to show on the nose and palate

On day two more notes of pepper read more... start to come out.

This is a nice big, full bodied wine. The Cab and Shiraz really seem to blend and compliment each other.   


Mine was definitely off.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Dec 1, 2010.

It is scary to think how many potentially good wines we have dismissed due to a bad first bottle

Bloody corks!

On another note I have managed to get a bottle of 07 Antica Terra Pinot from Amity Hills in Oregon

Does anyone have ony notes on this wine

Reply by outthere, Dec 2, 2010.

You have a nice bottle of Willamette Pinot. It probably will be best in 2 more years but is really drinking well now. A bigger pinot on the nose but not on the palate, with cola, cherry, red and blue fruits balanced with medium acidity and an earthy finish.

Really changes with air. See what end of the spectrum appeals to you.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Dec 2, 2010.


I will probably give a try in a week or so

This weekend will be chaotic as my niece gets married in the Barossa.

Should be a great event,the reception is at one of Yalumbas properties overlooking one of their vineyards.

All the wine will be from Penfolds as my Brother in Law is good friends with one of their winemakers

Reply by Lucha Vino, Dec 3, 2010.

Stephen - Sounds like a great celebration!

Reply by StevenBabb, Dec 4, 2010.

great review john! i enjoyed your aproach to the task at hand... i brought my bottles to bin 38 to have a nice tasting with some coworkers.... no food though... i think that was a nice touch : )

Reply by napagirl68, Dec 4, 2010.

I wasn't sure where to add my review..  I thought I'd keep it in this thread.  Hopefully that's ok.

A big thank you to Yalumba and snooth for the wonderful opportunity to taste three wines from Australia's oldest family-owned winery.   Being one who normally drinks mostly California wine, I was pretty excited about tasting some Aussie wines that, in my web research, appeared to be pretty well-rated.

I had two others join me for this tasting, and have included their opinions in this review as well.  One of the tasters is half Australian, and adores wines from all over Australia. The other taster is a huge syrah lover, namely California syrahs.  None of us are wine professionals or in the wine industry, but we have tasted our fair share of wines over the years, for the sole purpose of pure pleasure.  I was very curious to see what we would think about these wines.

The three wines tasted were: 

Yalumba 2008 "Patchwork" Shiraz, Australia

Yalumba 2008 "The Scribbler", Cabernet/shiraz blend, Barossa, Australia

Yalumba 2004 "Signature", Cabernet/shiraz blend, Barossa, Australia

NOTE: All three wines were opened and decanted two hours before tasting.  They were all initially tasted without food, then tasted firstly, with aged cheddar and aged gouda; followed later by lamb sausage/roasted fennel pizza.

2008 Patchwork Shiraz (100% Shiraz)

The color on this shiraz is a deep, dark purple.  We did get some currant and spice on the nose, but all of us agreed that the predominate nose was alcohol- even tho decanted for 2hrs (alcohol stated at 14.5%). We proceeded to taste- my first impression was that this wine needed more time!  I tasted sharp tannins, currants, a bit of spice, and big acid.  The other tasters agreed.  The CA syrah-lover did not care for this wine right off the bat, and the Aussie friend and I thought it needed a few more years. We then tried it with the cheeses and then with the lamb sausage pizza. It actually wasn't a bad drinker with the lamb sausage.  I think the tannins/acid actually could make this a decent food wine, although I would still give this more time in the bottle to develop. Even with the saving grace of the food pairing, we all rated this wine last of the three.

2008 "The Scribbler" Cabernet/Shiraz (65% Cab, 35% Shiraz)

The color of this wine was a beautiful scarlet/purple. The nose presented with raspberries and a hint of allspice.  Upon first tasting, the two friends pronounced this an immediate winner (and hadn't tasted the Signature yet???). VERY smooth tannins, yet enough acidity to give balance. I believe this wine could drink now or sit a few years.  Rich flavors of black currant, blackberry, spice, and perhaps a bit of clove are what we picked up upon first tasting. We all agreed this would make a great sipping wine, and did not need food to complement it. I had a bit of leftover Italian truffle cheese from Trader Joe's, and offered that to taste with the wine.  The deep dark fruits of this wine complemented the earthy cheese nicely. It also drank nicely with the lamb pizza. However, we all rated it as a wine we would very much enjoy sipping sans food.  We all agreed we would be willing to purchase this wine.  Alcohol stated was 14%.

2004 "Signature" Cabernet/Shiraz (54% Cab, 46% Shiraz)

A similar color to the Scribbler- deep scarlet/purple. My two tasters and I all picked up dark berries on the nose.  I additionally picked up a hint of cedar on the nose, but the other two did not.  Upon first tasting, my predominate flavor was that of currants.  The aussie taster first tasted raspberry. Third taster agreed with us both! I think there was a consensus here of red berries.  The tannins were smooth, but still present to a greater degree, IMO, than the Scribbler. I think that lends the Signature to more easily pair with foods. Additional flavors that I tasted were allspice, black cardamom, and a hint of clove.  I REALLY liked this wine. It was more complex, IMO, and the flavors kept evolving. It paired well with both cheeses (cheddar and gouda), and was nice with the lamb pizza. Alcohol is stated at 14.5%. I am thinking of getting more of this wine for Christmas, and pairing it with braised beef and truffled polenta.  This was my favorite of the three, hands down.  The other two tasters placed this wine at number 2, and the Scribbler at number one. 

Overall, we were impressed with this selection of Yalumba.  After visiting their website, I would definitely try their other varietals as well. I also may try to get some of their Tawny port, since I am a fan of Aussie tawny ports!

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Dec 5, 2010.


Glad you enjoyed the Yalumba tasting.  They are a very good wine company and looking to make it six generations in the same family.

If you get a chance try their Rieslings [see the Riesling Post you started].  The Pewsey Vale and Heggies are very good.  They also do a Tasmanian Pinot called Dalrymple which is getting better

Their best Tawny Port was Galway Pipe but I think they sold all of their port business a couple of years ago. I will check and get back to you on the one

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