Once upon a time (that means back in February), we two Thirsty Kittens here at Thirsty Kitten World Headquarters (that means our house) were having take-out food from one of our favorite Thai restaurants and sipping a nice bottle of wine with it. On that night, the wine in question was the Gary Farrell Zinfandel and we wrote about it in our second ever blog post.
Last night was another of those cozy Friday evenings at home, and again we chose Thai food take-out. The chillier the weather gets here, the more we seem to seek out spicy foods. This time our wine choice was the 2007 Yabby Lake Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. Yes, that’s right, we said Australian Pinot Noir. We know that more people probably think of Australia for its Shiraz, but we’re delighted to report that we were very impressed with this Pinot. In fact, it inspires us to try more Australian Pinots when we have the chance.
We came upon this wine when our Captain of Wine Aquistions (that would be Kip) noted a great deal on the K & L Wines website. Located in San Francisco, K & L happens to be one of our favorite wine retailers, and not just because their name matches our first name initials. We’ve become very fond of shopping there on our intermittent trips to the Bay Area, appreciating their selection, prices and staff.
Never having heard of Yabby Lake, Kip was drawn to it because of the deal. K & L was offering it at a steep discount from the regular retail price ($22 as opposed to $45). Discounts like that get our attention but they do make us wonder if the wine is past its prime. A conversation with the K & L staff left Kip feeling assured that the Yabby Lake Pinot was still drinking beautifully. And we’re here to say they were right, at least in our humble opinion. With just 2,500 cases of this wine produced, and only 240 of those designated for the U.S. market, we were pretty proud of ourselves for scoring some of this Pinot. In fact, we officially cornered 1/240th of U.S. market allotment.
Yabby Lake calls itself “a dynamic Australian wine producer intent on crafting wines with a genuine sense of identity.” We appreciate wine makers who allow the uniqueness of their own terroir to express itself in the glass. It makes us feel we are getting acquainted with the place itself. And because the folks at Yabby Lake see themselves as stewards of the land, they also tend toward organic farming practices, which we appreciate, as well.
While Australian Pinots received some tough criticism early on, it seems that there are a number of winemakers who are now proving that Australia can produce beautiful Pinots. Yabby Lake’s winemaker Tom Carson is one of those people. He has spent considerable time learning the techniques of the Burgundy region of France and putting them into practice at home in Australia. The cool climate of the Mornington Peninsula, a low-lying coastal area southeast of Melbourne, offers just the kind of growing conditions Pinot Noir grapes like.
Australian wine writer James Halliday rated the Yabby Lake Pinot 96 points noting, “Bright clear crimson-red; a fragrant bouquet of gently spicy berries leads into a beautifully balanced and proportioned palate, the dark berry fruits in a silky web of tannins.” Wine Spectator gave it a 90 point rating saying the wine “lounges easily in the mouth” (we loved that description) and “offers cherry, mineral and pepper flavors that linger on the expressive finish.” We found the spicy fruit to be a great accompaniment to our Thai food, a big enough wine to stand up to the food, yet not an over-the-top “fruit-bomb” Pinot by any means. Very balanced, very elegant in our opinion.
Given that the Wine Spectator thinks we should drink this wine by the end of 2012, I guess we’ll need to get busy here at Thirsty Kitten World Headquarters if we want to be in compliance with their recommendation. What a delightful “problem” to have. So we raise our glasses this week to cozy Friday nights, great wine deals with “drink now” recommendations, and, of course, to all of you. Cheers!