Yalumba The Caley 2016: A future icon taking flight

Fine wine is usually so steeped in history that for a (relatively) younger drinker, it feels somewhat like you’re late to the party.

Wines considered among Australia’s elite have typically earnt their reputation over several decades, with a proven record of cellaring capability.

We hear second hand the stories about the origins of these wines, and those of us lucky enough to taste the earlier vintages do so without possibly knowing how they would have originally presented upon release.

But Yalumba’s The Caley Cabernet & Shiraz is a wine that enthusiasts currently in their prime can experience from the beginning of its journey, rather than vicariously, as Yalumba offers a vertical tasting of all five vintages at its cellar door for an accessible $100.

It still has to earn its place alongside Australia’s wine icons, but its early track record should give every confidence The Caley is a wine we will still be talking about in future decades.

Yalumba The Caley 2016

Yalumba winemaker Kevin Glastonbury presented the first five vintages of The Caley at a recent press event in Sydney, which highlighted the unique blending methodology for the wine.

He said the objective of The Caley was to craft a Great Australian Red that was driven by Coonawarra Cabernet, which would ideally comprise 70 to 80 per cent of the blend.

However, vintage characteristics have dictated that the composition has varied considerably over the first five years:

  • 2012: 52 per cent Coonawarra Cabernet, 27 per cent Barossa Cabernet, 21 per cent Barossa Shiraz
  • 2013: 55 per cent Coonawarra Cabernet, 45 per cent Barossa Shiraz
  • 2014: 82 per cent Coonawarra Cabernet, 18 per cent Barossa Shiraz
  • 2015: 74 per cent Coonawarra Cabernet, 26 per cent Barossa Shiraz
  • 2016: 71 per cent Coonawarra Cabernet, 29 per cent Barossa Shiraz

“The percentage of new oak will vary again [each year] because of the fruit power, concentration and structure of the wine,” Glastonbury said.

“We don’t want The Caley to be a bigger, riper style. We’re pursuing more refinement.”

He said 2016 was an “almost perfect” vintage, delivering pristine fruit with richness and a little more mid-palate concentration than that of 2012, which Yalumba considers the other standout vintage so far.

Yalumba The Caley 2016

Tasted in the company of its predecessors, there’s a lovely aromatic lift, plushness and evenness across the palate in the ’16. The ‘15 I tasted last year presented as the most robust, muscular Caley of the line-up; the ‘16 beautifully sleek and refined with soft, velvety tannins (RRP $365).

More:
Yalumba winemaker Louisa Rose on The Signature Cabernet Shiraz: S6E9
How Tasmania lured gun winemaker Samantha Connew: S10E2
Phil Sexton: Wine and beer entrepreneur – S9E3

Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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