Yangarra Estate’s winemaker Pete Fraser has been making this skinsy, ceramic-egg-raised Roussanne since 2013, and the latest iteration is one of the best, with layers of citrus, spice and orchard fruit, overlaid with chalky, savoury accents.
Fermented and aged in small ceramic eggs – half fermented as juice, the rest on skins for 193 days, with the final blend 60/40 respectively – this is a deep greenish gold in colour, with aromas of dried sage, hay, dried apple, orange pith, jasmine nectar, wax and spice, with a chalky almost volcanic mineral feel to it. The flavours are layered but they play down a fine, dry-toned and savoury line, with flexing texture pushing up against fine grip and placid but present acidity, a burr of gentle tannin leaving a lasting impression, beckoning for more, and for food.
Themes of this wine
Famously blended in the Northern Rhône with viognier and marsanne, roussanne also features in the white blends of the Southern Rhône. It has been present in Victorian vineyards since the 19th century, but has never been a major player. Here, it is typically blended with its Northern Rhône companions, though varietal bottlings are not unheard of. The flavours of Roussanne can tend to the herbal, but more sage-like than grassy.
While it couldn’t feel any more removed from city life, the McLaren Vale wine region is inside Adelaide’s metropolitan area. And although the township itself is only 40 minutes by car from central Adelaide and vineyards brush up against ever-encroaching housing, McLaren Vale remains unaffected by the urban sprawl. With deeply etched history, the Vale has a slow-paced sense of calm and an extraordinary wealth of untrammelled beauty. It is home to some of this country’s most beautifully pristine beaches, as well as some of the world’s most forward-thinking grape-growers and winemakers. And with over 80 cellar doors, it is an essential destination for wine lovers – and anyone else, for that matter.
Amphorae are some of the most ancient winemaking vessels, and the modern practice of using ovoid fermenters is a very similar idea, with the shape encouraging ferment vectors to swirl and tumble. While amphorae are typically made from clay, eggs come in a range of materials, from concrete to ceramic to steel.